Building Bonds Through Hard Work—and Fun

SIM USASIM Global August 2016

SPORTS FRIENDS has found a unique way to share the love of Jesus

Young people everywhere love sports. The ministry of Sports Friends taps into that common interest to share the love of Jesus Christ while building relationships that last.

Working with local church leaders, Sports Friends develops Christ-centered sports programs in countries around the world. Children come to play—and hear the gospel at the same time.

Michelle Palacio works with the Sports Friends support services team and travels to participate in sports camps. She especially appreciates the ministry’s spiritual emphasis. “Discipleship and the gospel are first and foremost,” she says. The ministry also considers each child’s interests and personality, encouraging them to find God’s unique calling in their lives.

God used Sports Friends to work in the heart of David, an Ethiopian who came to the ministry as a young boy. He returned home with a passion to bring the gospel to his people—and fight the witchcraft infecting his village. He stood strong for Jesus, despite his youth. “We have these ideas that we need to be older and experienced to take a stand for the gospel,” Michelle says. But she watched David develop into a leader and evangelist while still in his teens. He’s now a Sports Friends coach.

Sports Friends offers believers lots of opportunities to share the gospel through giving. One American donor gave a dozen soccer balls for the ministry in Niger. The kids were incredulous. “Do you mean there are people in America who know about Nigerien kids?” they asked. “Why would someone there want to send us a soccer ball?”

The coach told them, “The person who sent you this soccer ball is a Christian. He sent it to you because he loves you, even though he’s never met you.”

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This is a picture of how God loves each of us. That’s what Sports Friends is all about.