Although sports, like any good gift from God, can be turned into an idol–a reality for many in our culture–it’s also true that sports can be used for the glory of God. Not only can sports be used as a tool in our own discipleship, but also we can use sports as a vehicle to reach others with the gospel. Below you’ll read two testimonies from ministries who are using the gospel to proclaim Christ.
Kelvin joined Vapor last year as a twenty-five-year-old volunteer coach. He has been attending a weekly coach’s meeting since he joined Vapor. At first he was not enjoying the training, though after being with us for some months, he had gained an interest with the training and he wanted to be a Christian. Two months later he was a part of the “workers in the wall” project (a repair project to our facility in which we use locals). While the construction was ongoing, every morning he was attending our morning devotions. Not only was he present, but also he was very much interested in the Word of God.
One morning I asked Kelvin to stay behind while the others left. I told him that I had noted that he was gaining an interest in the Word. He shared his story with me of his life before joining Vapor and how he had initially responded postiviely to the message of the gospel. However, he his faith did not endure and he found himself going back to his old ways. He confessed to me that by being part of Vapor he had learned a lot about Jesus and he was willing to follow and obey Christ. I prayed with him and assured him that the Christ’s salvation is permanent and that no one can snatch it away. I am meeting with Kelvin regularly to check his progress and to make sure he is growing in Christ day by day. Glory be to Almighty God for his wonderful work through Vapor.
Kelvin’s story is told by Gibson, who is on staff with Vapor at the Gichagi center in Kenya. Vapor exists to glorify Christ by advancing the gospel and serving the poor. One of the ways Vapor strives to do this is through discipleship-sports leagues. At Vapor’s five existing centers soccer is used as a vehicle to share the gospel.
Coming from a background of being adopted, living in a home touched by the stain of alcoholism, I always looked for a “way out.” But what I found in the form of a round, orange ball was far more than I ever imagined! This ball could, on the one hand, produce immense happiness, yet at the same time it could produce great distress and anger. The important question is . . .
How in the world could a basketball be used to bring our heavenly Father glory?
After long self-indulgence in the sport of basketball I found myself unfulfilled, to say the least. I thought that there must be more to this game. Through this painful personal revelation and this somewhat intriguing sense of what ought to be, I began to seek the Father for His intention for basketball as a part of my life. His answer was astounding: I sensed His leading to use basketball as a tool to proclaim the gospel in His name and for His glory.
I, a young man who so desperately needed a divine purpose and vision, found God’s vision and His practical purpose for my life in the form of this tool called basketball.
Through the stirring of Christ’s Great Commission in me (Matthew 28:18-20), I learned that I could use this tool, basketball, to do Christ’s work both nationally and internationally. I saw that people in desperate need, people who probably would never step foot in the doors of a church facility, could now be introduced to the love of Jesus in the context of a basketball clinic or game. They would come in contact with members of Christ’s church and have the opportunity to join His fellowship!
I have personally served nationally and internationally in sports ministries. I have seen thousands of people flock to this round orange ball for what they thought was simply going to be an opportunity to learn to play a sport, but they left with a life-changing encounter with Jesus!
I truly believe that the Father is using and will continue to use the tool of sports to unending lengths, Through the ministry of sports, the Holy Spirit led me to start my own ministry, a ministry that is designed and determined to play a part in making disciples for the glory of Christ. I pray that others would look at what Jesus deposited in them as a tool for His Glory, and as they discover it, that they would allow Him to put His super on their natural.
Romeo Penn is a former professional basketball player who, along with his wife, Dawnielle, founded PennPoint Sports Ministries. This ministry is an instrument to develop L.I.F.E. leaders through sports and fitness within local communities.