Full Circle

Back when I was single and living in Edmonton I got involved in a sports outreach run by an evangelist named Pete Wright. I was looking for opportunities to meet people from outside the church and to learn how to share my faith. Pete Wright organised a community soccer league in the summers and was looking for people to help. 

I remember going to the first meeting for the volunteers and I told Pete I would like to help, but I didn’t feel ready to be one the team captains, who had the responsibility of giving a short gospel presentation at half time. But there weren’t enough team captains…

So, there I was, sitting on the sidelines of the soccer field doing something I had never done before: talk about Jesus to people who were not Christians. I’m sure I did a fairly terrible job of it, but I was doing it and at the very least it was changing me. I was being confronted with the reality of what it meant to be a Christian witness, even during the intensity and emotions of a soccer match. And every weekday morning, as I cleaned cow manure from rows of freestalls on my family’s farm, I was mulling over the best way to talk about Jesus to my team. 

I knew that whatever I had to say to them, I had to be fully convinced of myself. I didn’t want to spout off Christian cliches or assert things I didn’t know to be true, and that led me to truly read and study the Bible as I had never done before. That process – of reading, studying, meditating, and explaining the Bible to non-Christian youth – changed my life. In many ways, it set me on the path to becoming involved in mission work and working as a missionary in Mexico. 

And now, I find myself once again doing what I did during those few summers in the outreach soccer league. At the beginning of January we started a sports night as one of the outreaches of our ministry in Santa Barbara. We’ve started with soccer the first couple weeks and at half time, we offer snacks and then I grab my Bible and stand on the sideline of the sports court and talk to the kids about Jesus. Except now I do it in Spanish, which feels a bit like starting all over again. But it feels familiar. And I feel grateful. 

I thank God for the way he prepares us for what lies ahead and I smile when I think about how he used my experience on the soccer pitches in Edmonton to prepare me for the concrete courts of Santa Barbara.

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