Spring 2017 Sports Ministry Update
Quite a bit has transpired since our last update. We have almost completed our first of two seasons and we ended up having to buy uniforms here in Nicaragua as we have still not been able to get our uniforms out of customs. The uniforms that were made here turned out great and it is something we will be looking to do in country for the coming years. Practices and gamedays have been going well and the kids for the most part have been doing a good job at memorizing their weekly Bible verses. They have learned different daily life applicable lessons like: obey their parents from Colossians 3:12, treat others they want to be treated from Luke 6:32, that God loves them so much that He sent His son to die for them from John 3:16, and many others. We are also excited to see many of the same faces from last year still playing. This year we had a 77% retention ratio for our kids. This means that of eligible kids, those who could still be playing in our league that played last year, 77% of them are still playing. We did have to drop one community of three teams while gaining another community of three teams. This is something we hope to continue to see while aiming for a higher percentage as we try to live by Proverbs 22:6 that tells us to direct our children onto the right path so that when they are older they will not leave it.
I may have or may haven’t mentioned it before but one of the things that impacted me the most during my first trip here was something that happened during youth group one night. The person leading that night had asked the twenty or so kids in the room what their dreams were or what they wanted to do when they grew up. When the question was asked, silence fell upon the room and was accompanied by blank stares. The question was rephrased and was followed by other questions to try and spark something, but it was again met with nothing. The sad reality is, what can these kids really dream to be? What examples do they have around them to make them believe something greater is attainable? That silence and the look on those kids’ faces has always stuck with me. Especially when I grew up in a culture where if a 5-year-old kid says he wants to be a dinosaur by golly he can be a dinosaur. If you want to be president even better because anything is possible if you believe. Two instances have happened over the past few weeks which reflects the beauty of sports and what we are doing here. One day after practice some of my kids stayed back to throw around to each other, which is something they almost always do. One kid was pitching to one of his teammates who was catching. The kid on the pitching mound began to say, “There’s two outs and two strikes. He pitches…” as the catcher caught the ball he screamed, “Strike three! Strikeout!” The two yelled as if they had won the championship. In that moment, all I could do was smile as I thought back to countless times as a kid in my backyard when I was Luke Maye nailing that last second shot to help UNC advance to the final four or win the national championship or beat Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium to silence the Cameron Crazies. There is something nostalgic about those types of moments when one is in his own world and for at least that moment, he is on top of the sports world. Nothing should be able to deprive young kids of their ability to dream, hope and imagine.
The other instance occurred during one of our gamedays. I was talking with one of our coaches when his son, who plays on his team, walked up. The father began telling me how the other night they were watching the Boston Red Sox and his son, who is 11, looked at him and said, “I am going to play for them when I am older. I am going to be on TV.” As his dad was telling me this, the son had a big ole smile on his face but the look in his eyes let me know that he wasn’t joking. He genuinely believed he would one day be playing for the Red Sox in Fenway Park. That type of belief, that type of hope, that type of dreaming is something I rarely see here. My goal and desire is to help cultivate a young generation of men who will dare to dream big and who are willing to put forth the work to achieve those dreams; young men who are taught that caring for and loving their neighbor is not a sign of weakness but fortitude; a generation who hold each other accountable on the field, in the classroom, and on their streets; and ultimately young men who realize that there is no greater sign of masculinity than to be humble and fearful before their God. It is not an easy task and it will take a commitment of relentless pursuit of pouring into these kids and of course time. That is why it has been encouraging to see such a high retention percentage of kids after our first year as we strive to make that kind of investment into their lives. So thank you for your support and prayers. We ask for continued prayers of softening of hearts and for more Nicaraguan help. Thanks and God bless!