Sports Outreach


Go, team! Whether by participating, coaching, or supporting a loved one involved, people in any part of the world can find community through sports. Several WGM missionaries are using sports as a form of outreach to connect with the communities around them. An extended interaction through sports outreach allows missionaries and church members to make friends and present the gospel to those friends. Here are a few examples of how sports are being used as a tool for evangelism.

Albania

A ministry center in a small Albanian village provides opportunities for fellowship and evangelism. Run by Nathan and Cydil Waggoner, the center provides recreational activities for the children of the village, whose schools do not provide organized sports. While kids do not have to attend church programs in order to participate in recreational activities, the leaders schedule recreational activities around church-based events, so many kids voluntarily stay around to participate in kids’ clubs, church, and other programs.

One of the ministry center’s regular attendees is a tall boy from a different region of Albania. At the ministry center, he finds a place of belonging. He shows up first for recreational activities and leaves last. While he shoots hoops, he practices his English and asks the leaders questions about the Bible, which he is reading through. He is the only male Christian at his school, so his time at the center helps strengthen his faith.

The Waggoners are planning to expand opportunities for sports outreach by building an indoor soccer field next to the ministry center. This field will provide not only recreational opportunities but will also target Albania’s lack of jobs by providing positions for a manager, a night guard, a groundskeeper, snack shop workers, and others. In Albania, many fathers work long stints in other countries in order to provide for their families, but these opportunities will help form stability in the community around the ministry center. Local jobs will also support evangelistic efforts—many new disciples end up leaving for other countries, making it difficult to grow local bodies of disciples. The new soccer field will allow some Christians to stay and minister to their community in Albania. 

Peru

In Peru, David and Cathlene Strong integrate sports into their ministry in ways that allow for introductions to the church and the gospel. While no permanent sports ministries have been established, men’s and women’s basketball teams have gone to Peru in order to minister through their sport. At each of these sports ministry events, the Strongs and the teams look to share the gospel. In addition, David started a Friday night Ping-Pong™ club at the Strongs’ church in Cusco. He says it provides the youth with a more wholesome alternative to other Friday night activities. For some, like one Peruvian young man named Matt, the club has provided a connection for him to become involved in church and youth meetings. 

“They may hear the Word on the soccer field or whatever field first before they ever come to church,” David shared.

Texas/Mexico Border Ministries

On the Texas/Mexico border, Gerson and Betsy Tejeda minister through the Soccer Lions Academy, a program that provides soccer practice, training, and competition for kids ages 4 through 12. Coaches pray with and present biblical devotions to the kids at practice. During end-of-season awards ceremonies, the families of the children get to hear the gospel as well. The adoptive father of one boy credits Soccer Lions Academy—where the boy progressed from a ball boy to a coach—with surrounding his son with godly influences. The young man says that the ministry has given him a vision for his life: a way to make a difference in the lives of young children.  

Sports also provide an opportunity for friendship evangelism. A local church uses the Academy’s soccer field, inviting non-Christian youth to play with church members. Missionaries and church members host quarterly day tournaments for volleyball, basketball, and indoor soccer as well as basketball open gyms. Another local church has taken a large part in the open gyms since the ministry moved into the air-conditioned facility. This has provided the youth participating in basketball with connection to a youth group, which many of them attend. 

Partner with Sports Outreach

GoGO: Short- and long-term ministry opportunities are available for sports outreach in these locations. Visit www.wgm.org/go for more information.

GiveGIVE: Help purchase equipment and provide other needs on the Texas/Mexico border.

Pray

PRAY: Pray that these sports outreach programs will draw in more members of the community who will then turn and make disciples of others. Pray also for wisdom and provision for the missionaries leading sports outreach ministries.