“Let me tell you about my journey (really God’s) halfway across the world. He brought together a group of basketball players from around the country and took us to the Philippines. We knew we would be playing against university and professional teams and doing mission work, but we all discovered our plans pale in comparison to the plans God has for us.
“From the start, we discovered a brotherhood no one could have anticipated, clicking as if we had known each other for years. We were able to go so much further than surface level conversation and shared life together as men. We discovered what it means to be a man of God’s kingdom through His Word and the experiences He took us on. God grew each of us closer to Him and to the life He has for us.
“Sharing the love of Jesus in Manila in a prison, an orphanage, a school and a hospital opened our eyes to what life is really about. Many of us discovered our “why”-our foundational rock on which we will build for the rest of our lives. We discovered we can use our gifts and passions to bring glory to God. Using our play as our worship and our worship as our play, we can use basketball or whatever we do to be a spotlight for Jesus.
“Although our team found success in our games, we were playing for something bigger than the scoreboard. It was so cool to fellowship with the teams after our games and share laughs, God’s love and the gospel story. It was counter-cultural in the realm of sport. It’s amazing that each one of us went on the same trip, did the same activities, and yet God worked in different ways in everyone. He marked us in ways that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
“Personally, I came back with a renewed sense of purpose. God spoke to me and opened up my eyes to see where He is leading. I’m sure all my brothers have stories and experiences that would never have happened if they hadn’t taken this flight of faith to the Philippines.
“I’m so thankful for all the amazing things God did in us and through us on this trip. I encourage you to say “yes” to any sort of mission journey that God presents you with-there is truly nothing like it! But I also want to encourage you that you don’t have to travel across the world to make a difference. Wherever you are and whatever you do, you can bring honor and glory to the Lord and together, He will use us to change the world!” ~Will
Your support enables students like Will to experience God in new ways.
Please review our prayer page and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord. Click the following: Oct 2015 to print a hard copy newsletter.
It’s Wednesday (day 10) for the Athletes in Action Ugandan Women’s basketball project. The team started the day visiting the Peace for Children Africa’s drop-in center. (Photos: Peace for Children)
Joel and Katie started talking with Isman, a fourteen-year-old boy. As a part of any conversation, staff always ask what they can pray for someone. They learned Isman had been living on the streets since he was seven and had been visiting the drop-in-center for over six months. Isman was waiting for a sponsor who will help pay for his school expenses. Their conversation ranged from football to the Bible. Isman did not understand that Jesus had died for him. “Joel explained how Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin because He loves us, and asked Isman if he had ever prayed to thank Jesus for dying for him. Isman said, ‘No, but I would like to do that sometime.’ Joel asked him when he was thinking he might do that, and Isman basically said he’d do that any day now. Naturally Joel suggested, ‘What about right now?'” Read the rest of the story here.
That afternoon their game was played at a Muslim high school for girls. The opportunity illustrated the power of sports to cross spiritual and cultural barriers so the gospel can be shared. After the game, all the AIA players gave gifts to the girls from the school and talked about their faith in Christ.
These two stories are just a snippet of what God accomplished on this trip. Pray for Isman and the growth of so many others.
“The impression left by our players is so positive that it makes people wonder how they do it. They are doing such a good job of living out their faith in word and action.” Coach G.
It was evident that God was at work from the very beginning with the Brazilian Basketball Project. Their focus on playing for an Audience of One clearly brought the team together for His purposes. Even before leaving for Brazil, the team played a game in a maximum security prison where they engaged inmates on a personal level. Andrew shared his testimony, and the inmates responded with a standing ovation.
God used this focus on serving Him and each other throughout the project, constantly drawing people to them to find out why the team was so different. The response during the clinics? “The kids loved it. They just love to be close to our guys and they (the AIA team) do such a great job of demonstrating what a Godly man is supposed to look like.” This made the athletes’ testimonies more effective with everyone attending. Brazilian players and coaches made decisions to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior during the tour. The Holy Spirit led the way using relationships and conversations at games, practices, or during after-game activities to open hearts to a relationship with Jesus Christ. One Brazilian player/coach attended every game the team played for over a week and then accepted Christ. (Photo Source: http://atletasaea.blogspot.com.br/)
Please review our prayer page and support needs links and lift up our ministry to the Lord. Click the following: July 2012 to print a hard copy newsletter.
An important area of focus for projects like the one in East Africa is to assemble a team who can continue building the ministry after the project. To that end, AIA put on a basketball coaches’ clinic in Rwanda.
As the clinic began, two coaches were asked to demonstrate passing techniques. Coach Evelyn had a funny expression on her face during the demonstration. Later our staff asked her why. Evelyn shared that her family was killed by Hutus during the genocide of 1994, leaving her and her baby for dead. When coach Evelyn walked into the gym, she saw one of men who killed her family 18 years before. Incredibly, through God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, Evelyn was able to forgive him. Then, God allowed the impossible to be done. She was asked to demonstrate passing drills with this man who had killed her family! At that moment, God completed a reconciliation between Coach Evelyn and this man. Coach Evelyn later said, “In that moment I realized God had removed my bitterness and I had completely forgiven this man and the others.”
God is reconciling Rwandans one relationship at a time through sports. What a privilege it is to be a part of reconciling people around the world to one another and our Lord Jesus Christ.
On September 28th and 29th the AIA US Global Team met to come before the Lord and trust Him to reveal our role in fulfilling His Great Commission next year. These two days were the genesis of what the Lord will accomplish in 2012 through our ministry. Our team’s major goals in fielding projects around the world are to:
- pioneer in countries where little or no ministry exists
- aid international staff with established ministries
One example from last year’s planning was the East Africa project in Kenya and Rwanda. By God’s grace, 1,200 people were exposed to the Gospel, 80 people committed their lives to Christ and 33 AIA volunteers committed to disciple others with help from AIA staff.
As AIA staff, we will help with project planning, development, and fulfillment; however, God works primarily through our volunteers, who become the face of Jesus Christ in this life-changing ministry. Your partnership with us will help to provide these volunteers with unprecedented opportunities to be ambassadors for Christ. We, together with you, will help facilitate this ministry. Thank you for being partners with us in sharing the gospel around the world!
Please pray for:
- the Lord’s lead in developing our 2012 projects
- our volunteers as the Lord prepares them
- project resources
- AIA staff as they develop each project
- Rick and Karen to complete our support team (our status)