There’s a reason your VBS program has a game time: Fun things attract people, even if you make them listen to a lesson first. But sports and recreation ministry is much more than getting people to sit down for a devotional.
When you coach a team, you get to teach discipline from a biblical perspective. When you counsel a camper, you get to pray with them about their struggles. When you organize kayaking trips, you get to spend hours talking about God. Recreation lets people bond in a non-threatening way, which opens incredible doors for the Gospel!
This month, will you pray with us for sports and recreation ministries around the world?
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Pray for safety and health.
Some safety and health concerns are expected. If you coach a basketball team or lead campers on a riverside bike ride, you should probably make sure people have appropriate equipment, get proper rest and don’t goof off in a dangerous manner. But as summer weather picks up, missionaries in places like Taiwan are also praying against typhoons that could hit their camp.
Please pray for all of these concerns. Ask God to prevent injuries, even when people are careless. Ask Him to ward off sicknesses. And please pray that all bad weather will pass by recreational ministries without incident.
Pray for deep relationships to form.
A lot of bonding can happen during a week of camp or regular sports practices. When a young player came to football practice with tears in his eyes, his coach, a TEAM missionary, was there to listen to him. The Czech boy shared about his father’s drunken rampage from the night before, and the missionary got to point him to Jesus.
Ask God to help missionaries build deep relationships so their players and campers feel comfortable opening up to them. Pray that this trust will extend to family members, too.
Pray for logistics to run smoothly.
The reason kayaking is such a good ministry for sharing Christ is it creates blocks of time. So I have just hours to talk to people.” – Steve Dresselhaus, TEAM missionary
TEAM missionary Steve Dresselhaus recently had everything perfectly planned for a three-day, Christ-centered, kayaking trip. But he didn’t plan for rain! Sometimes weeks or months of planning can be thrown off by just one detail — bad weather, a lack of staff or visas that don’t come through.
Please ask God to guide missionaries as they plan, so they’ll schedule events at good times and be able to take care of every detail. And pray that when things don’t go as planned, God will still open doors of ministry. Steve didn’t get his full kayaking trip, but his group still spent time together and got to talk about God!
Pray for high morale among staff and participants.
Staying peppy during hot, busy days of summer can be hard as it is. But what if you feel like the devotionals you share are hitting a wall instead of penetrating hearts? What if you’re a homesick camper who just wants to hug his mom? What if you’ve lost so many games this season that you wonder if it’s worth playing?
One of the most common prayer requests among sports and recreation ministries is for morale. Please ask God to give missionaries and those they serve the stamina, patience, joy and wisdom they need to make it through the summer with high spirits. And pray that they will know how to encourage each other when times get tough.
Pray for spiritual growth.
Years ago, TEAM missionary Ron Heinsman asked his Taiwanese camp interns what they would do if a friend asked how to be saved. Several raised their hands, but they all had the same answer: “I’d take them to talk to my pastor.”
Since then, Ron has made a point of teaching his volunteers how to use their personal testimonies to share the Gospel. And now, they’re leading campers to Christ! “Often, these young co-workers are completely surprised that it happened,” Ron says. “They didn’t believe it would.”
Please pray that young believers will grow in their faith as they attend recreational outreaches. Pray that missionaries will see where these believers need guidance and will know how to give it effectively.
Pray for the right staff members for each team.
TEAM missionary AJ Westendorp is excited to see how God is working in his football players’ lives, but he doesn’t have time to disciple all of them and do the rest of his work. He prays God will provide a chaplain for this Guatemalan team so that each young man can come to know Christ.
Please ask God to send the right people to each ministry. Pray that short-term volunteers will bond quickly and understand their roles. Pray that long-term roles will be filled by people who are persistent and eager to build deep relationships.
Pray for people to be saved!
There’s no doubt that each missionary’s greatest hope is to see people come to know Jesus! Some missionaries have shared the Gospel with the same people many times, and they’re just waiting for a breakthrough. Others hope that after they’ve shared the Gospel with campers, they’ll get to share it with the kids’ parents.
Please pray for missionaries around the world as they share the Good News of Jesus. Pray that God’s Spirit will soften hearts and open eyes. Pray that this summer — and this year — many people will come to know Jesus as Lord!
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