"Tonight O. confessed with passion that Jesus is God's Son, Jesus is L0rd, Jesus is G0d, Jesus is his Savior. And then minutes later, he was sharing the same thing, with the same passion, with his friend A. We had an amazing evening of opening God's Word and A. heard a whole lot more truth, this time from the mouths of his local brothers.
Heaven rejoices. God is good. So many times tonight O. would exclaim that God or the Holy Spirit just opened his eyes to something and he finally understood.
p.s. God's been doing a lot these last few weeks and Satan's been working overtime to knock me out of action. I've been sick for almost 4 weeks now. But, EVERY TIME, when I need it, He lights the fire and gives me just enough strength for the encounter."
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
"This is really hard but also the coolest way I've ever walked with God..."
This is a honest and raw quote from one of our sports workers in North Africa. This sentiment could be echoed by virtually all the others across the world.
We're so thankful for their work.
How can we lift up you, your family, and your work over the next two months?
"The security situation in our city troubling at best. Several like minded people have been kicked out of the country and these are people with whom we share a lot of contacts..."
"A" spent 2+ years in country and has returned for a 3 to 4 year term with the city team. She is a former collegiate soccer player. During her first term, she practiced regularly with a local women's pro team. Her areas of focus will be (1) administration for the business, (2) developing ultimate frisbee, and (3) women's sport development. She is studying language full time and reports already having 10 "heart conversations." Praise God!
D and K presented at an international conference, doing did 3 athletic taping workshops and giving lectures on sports nutrition and basic sports medicine concepts. D was also able to meet with the Sports Science department at the local university about trying to provide some Ph.D. level staff.
Greetings dear friends! We have a major request to bring before you...We have been in the visa process for a while now. Every year we have to reapply for our residents visa, pay money, go to interviews and such just to live here legally. A and H received their visas 3 weeks ago but we are still waiting for M. Please ask the Father to provide M's visa so that we can continue live and serve here!!
We are excited to tell you that A was able to pass her language evaluation in February!! While this may not seem like a big deal to you, it is a huge praise for us. Our life has been language for the last 2 years and now we can spend more time out using it in our community! We are so thankful!
We just spent two weeks with A's parents and enjoyed that sweet and special time! So thankful that the Father allowed them to come and visit!
Two other major things on our minds and hearts that we want to share with you: 1. Lift us up as we desire to serve the refugees in our city. Many of them are from our people group and need to hear truth and they need basic things such as food and clothing. 2. Lift us up as we strive to trust the Father in a turbulent climate. The news, for Central Asia, is at times troubling and while we are not in immediate danger--we want to fully trust Him and not live in fear!
We are 8 weeks into our Basketball League! It's crazy how quickly time goes. We've had over 160 kids join between the ages of 5-16. They've each been placed on a team where they have a practice and game each week. Our goal for Basketball League is for the kids to take what they've learned from Basketball Fun & be able to apply it to game situations, while also growing in their understanding of the value of teamwork & accountability, not only in basketball, but all of life. Next weekend we will have our semi-finals followed by the finals at the end of the month. Please continue to ask for hearts to be soften & relationships to be built in order for families to come to know the truth through basketball.
"I am asking for you to be generally praying/interceding specifically in the following areas:
- A healthy, mobilized Church - there is a bride here, small but existent & like the bride everywhere, needs significant growth if this nation/people group is to be reached
- People of peace/moths - searchers, the hungry ones, them to us (His body) & us finding them
- Dreams - classic truth in the Muslim world is that a huge percentage who are drawn to Jesus are drawn thru dreams
- Miracles/Healing/Opportunities for 'power' encounters
- Team - spiritual/physical health, intentionality, opportunities, favor"
"We move to the Middle East in about a week. While we know that we face many challenges ahead, we also understand what a privilege it is to be sent to the unreached. Please pray that we as a family learn to respond to the many challenges ahead in a way that brings God glory. Please pray that many believers would learn about and pray for God's Kingdom to expand among the unreached..."
We are about midway through our Basketball Fun season (Fundamentals). It has been such a neat experience for us to see how Basketball functions and be as involved as we have been. The kids seem to love it! We usually have over 240 kids that come to one of our 11 practices each week! It has been really neat to see kids start to develop their basketball skills as well as their discipline and focus throughout the practices. These kids are also getting to hear a bit about the Good News as well, and they continue to come back for more!
Even though our language is still limited, we are asking that the Father uses our actions to love the locals here well. We hope to build a deep trust with them, and though it is hard to do with words right now; we are asking that our commitment to working hard for their children sets us apart in some way.
Tomorrow is a national holiday in this country. Many cousin families will be getting together to celebrate Eid al-Adha (The feast of sacrifice). The purpose of this holiday is to conclude the Pilgrimage to Mecca. It lasts 3 days and commemorates Abraham's willingness to obey G*d by sacrificing his son (though they believe it was Ishmael). Many cousin families celebrate this by sacrificing a cow or ram. They eat 1/3 and then donate the rest to the poor. One of our language teachers has invited us over for lunch with her family. We are excited to experience this with her and hopefully build a deeper relationship with her.
Also, the family we joined for the last holiday has invited us back to celebrate the holiday and the wife’s birthday this Friday. We are excited to be able to continue to build a relationship with this family. Will you be interceding for these two events? Our hearts shared desire is that both of these families will know truth and trust in it.
Well, I was just looking back at our newsletter from just a few months ago and was thinking about how good our Father is to us! In June we were looking for an apartment and now we are feeling more settled in the place that He provided! Praises!
Another big praise is that last week we met up with a local couple to hang out and chat….and realized this was the very first time that we had been able to spend time with a married couple around our age since we moved to this country! Before, we mainly met with singles separately so it was special to spend that time together and we ask the Father to grow that relationship!!
Three main things on our minds: 1. One of the most important religious holidays is coming up, Sept. 23-27, and it is the "sacrifice holiday." We hope that we have opportunities to share about the One who sacrificed all for us so that we can be at peace with the Father. We already have one invitation to dinner during the holiday so lift us up in that time! 2. Lift up our company. There are many changes coming due to lack of funds. It is very sad to know that 1/6 of people working now will no longer be supported by the company next year. 3. Language- Lift up M as he finishes classes this week and continues to work hard. Lift up A as she desires to find a local tutor to help with language.
M and A, Central Asia
"Hey all, just got back from a training and hit the ground running with back to back weddings and a really important team meeting as we look to the next year and some change of foci. I could use your prayer on a few things:
- with the conference and traveling I let my dedicated times with Abba fall to the wayside and i'm suffering spiritually for it.
- we're back at the rent contract problem again! Our building has transferred ownership and now we have no contract. I'm meeting with one of their representatives tomorrow and could use some favor
- still working to get the sports club off the ground but hiccups keep slowing things down. Please be praying for me to be able to get it kicked off and wisdom for how much time to give to it
- for our team as we move forward, that we would individually and corporately be able to discern in what ways to focus our efforts and best position ourselves to be used by the Father over the next year"
"Last summer we had a boy join our basketball club [where my husband coaches] who literally "loved" the sport. He, unlike most [boys in this country], had given up Football, aka Soccer, to play basketball and was so excited that our club was right around the corner from his house. He faithfully has come to basketball every week for the entire year and continues to excel at the sport. As he committed to our club, I got the opportunity to meet up with his mom over tea/coffee and chat on multiple occasions. Our friendship has grown so much over the last year and when we started our "church" gathering she kept showing interest in coming. She had grown up in a catholic environment, and after becoming a single mom of two she felt ostracized from the church. She didn't really have much knowledge of what Jesus had done for her or His love for her. In January, she and her two kids started coming to our gathering. She has consistently been there every month. In May, I gave her a copy of the Message Bible and a devotional book and she began spending time with God. We have had many conversations over the last few months, and I knew she was at a place where "transition" was compeling her to a decision. The day I had to tell her that we would be moving back to the States was one of the hardest things for me. She wept, I wept, but we knew that this friendship was not temporary but for a life time.
After I came to the States, I got a message that she had decided to give her heart and life to Jesus. She was so excited! She told me that she was so grateful for us leading her to this "new life" in Christ. I have been speaking with her regularly since then and am so looking forward to getting back to her city to hopefully share in her baptism! Continue to pray for her as she parents her precious children and begins this new journey with the Lord."
"My role is to oversee and coordinate work in the Middle East. ISIS has directly affected my work by making the security situations in that region such that we cannot engage in these countries at present. We have a unit preparing to move into a portion of that area, but their arrival has been delayed significantly, largely due to the work of ISIS.
At this point, the region (for a variety of reasons, not just ISIS) seems to be getting worse and worse, making engagement in these countries difficult to project. The situation has caused strategists to rethink how we engage these peoples with the Good News. They are now considering training programs for leaders at sites that are in near culture countries that are currently more stable. Remote training, engagement through media and social media, as well as engagement in PG populated areas outside of their home countries seem to be the most viable strategies under the current circumstances.
Extremism is still the small minority of this faith. The great majority of people that follow Islam are not violent, but peaceful for the most part. In fact, the extremism of ISIS in particular is causing them to ask questions about their own faith, cracking the door open for an openness to the Good News. Please pray that what the enemy has certainly planned for evil, that the Father would accomplish His good and perfect will."
"As I reflect back on the past 3 weeks of sports camps conducted in our country, I find myself repeating what we often say on our international sports work team, "We don't deserve any of this." But He has chosen us, given us strength, equipped us, considered us faithful, and appointed us to His service. Therefore, working in our strengths and striving to make the most of the gifts, passions and opportunities He has so graciously entrusted to us, we chase after darkness, engage the enemy, and fight the good fight of faith... for the purpose of making Him known, making His name great wherever He leads us."
"We organized a master training workshop for all the trainers from 7 partner organizations, 27 trained were trained from 8 different cities and they planned to do 6 trainings in different locations.
Please continue to mention this - as different partners train more coaches and develop strategies to people and communities, help disciple children and teenagers and to help correct the problem of fatherlessness.
We trained in country - there were some PE teachers from the school who highly appreciated the training and said, "I have been a PE teacher for the last many years but for the first time I learned how I can use the opportunity God has given me to transform the young lives." Our young trainers are very excited and passionate to train more coaches, PE teachers, and athletes to broaden the impact.
Please continue to mention us in your prayers and for the start of a discipleship movement in this region."
"Because of the growing threat caused by ISIS, I haven’t been able to return to my country and continue our work. We are currently not able to do any projects or run ongoing programs because of security issues; sports work is often low on the priority list when compared with keeping families safe, finding clean water, and other daily survival tasks. Our local partners must periodically change their routines and lifestyles because of security issues and threats. Many of our local partners, particularly young leaders we have been mentoring, have had to leave, migrating to other countries to find work and safety.
When these kinds of threats are higher, fears grow, and not many people go out unless it's necessary. But when things are a bit more stable for periods of time, people quickly resume life as “normal” (or as normal as it can be). As far as work and business overall, things continue, and people and companies just learn to adapt, adjust, or change things quickly as needed. In this country, it seems many are questioning their faith and beliefs, and most people we know are horrified and long for the violence to end. This facilitates great opportunities for the Truth to impact and change lives, and despite the distance, I have been able to continue these powerful conversations.
Pray for peace but maybe more than that, pray that God's people will rise up boldly to shine against such darkness -- that we will be seen as different, and that peace will be seen through those who follow Jesus."
"Over the next few months, small teams of workers will be serving in South East Asia with a prominent sports ministry. This ministry has been invited to provide teaching and mentoring on a variety of life issues, helping high level athletes improve as individuals and team players. These athletes are eager to perform well for their nation in upcoming regional competitions. The local culture is Buddhist, and there are very few national Believers. The hope is for the mentoring relationships developed during this project to provide opportunities for conversations about Life's Most Important Relationship.
Pray for the teams of workers to walk intimately with the Holy Spirit.
Pray for the translators who will be on location for the entire project.
Pray for health, wisdom, and guidance in developing relationships.
Pray for opportunities to connect with athletes during ‘down time.’
We praise God for this extended and open opportunity to get to know these athletes! And we covet your prayers in the next few months, that many seeds would be sown, watered, and harvested for the Kingdom!
"As 2014 comes to an end, we celebrate our great God for many small and big things. This is only 1 example of a small thing: At our sports leadership conference, our ministry team decided to go and make disciples in every city and every community. Every community has a simple sports station with gymnastic bars and pull up bars near a playground. We developed an approach with workouts on how to connect with people through physical exercises and invite them for 16 sessions of Bible reading. After we tried it for 1st time, we had 6 people who decided to join the discovery from Creation to Christ. It works!"
"A team of 3 sports ministry leaders entered an unknown village. They spent half a day looking for people prepared by God. Later they met an old lady, an unlikely person to talk to, who was cleaning the street. The team stopped to talk to her, anyway. To their great surprise, the woman said the night before she saw a vision. In the vision, Jesus came to her house. She bowed down before Him to hug His feet and cried: "Jesus, don't leave my house! Please stay because we need You!" Jesus replied that today He will come back to her house in the form of three people. Jesus did what He promised by sending a sports ministry team to this village."
Excerpts from a sports missions report in Central Asia.