The crack of the bat, the roaring cheer of the crowd, the sharp whistle of the ref – the sounds of sports. Can you hear them, too?
Something magical happens when you play sports – when you’re part of a team. It doesn’t matter if you sat on the bench or were the star quarterback, the bonds forged as you strive for a common goal are unbreakable. Even a simple pick-up game can initiate eternal friendships (believe me, I’ve seen it). Sports have the ability to cross economic status, race, culture and language barriers. When you step onto the soccer field, basketball court, or any other area, it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white, English or Spanish, Christian or pagan. You instantly bond with your teammates – uniting as one to play the game.
How do I know this? Because this is the experience I had with sports as I’ve traveled to foreign countries.
I have had the privilege of going on mission trips to the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Georgia and Togo. In each of these travels, language and culture were barriers to relationships, but games were always an entry point. We couldn’t chat about our families or school, but we could play a game!
I remember playing baseball with barefoot orphans in the Dominican Republic. These children started as strangers, but through loud cheering, hard running and fun innings, we soon became friends. Excitement is a universal language. I remember playing indoor soccer in a makeshift gym in the Republic of Georgia and fiercely competing for the ball to prove myself to eighth grade Georgians who were rebuilding their lives after a civil war. I remember squatting in the dirt to play marbles with two young boys in Togo who loved to laugh at my misunderstandings of the game.
All of these memories share the joy of sports.
In each case, sports allowed us to communicate through a shared knowledge of the game or a desire to join the fun. But it didn’t stop there! After playing together each of the these groups of people were open to building relationships, and were willing to learn about God. I’d met them where they were, come alongside for a game, and earned their respect and trust. This resulted in an opportunity to bond further – through the sharing of the gospel of Christ. The joy of sports allowed me to share the joy of God with others. This is the true power of sports.
If you’d like to partner with Sharing Love Through Sports to continue building sporting programs in underprivileged areas locally and globally, contact us to learn more.