96754 Sports Friends Malawi

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Vision of the project: To mobilize, train and equip Malawian churches and church planters to use the powerful platform of sports as a tool for effective church planting, evangelism and discipleship. To see youth and members of their family grow in their relationship with God through relationships built on the sports field/court.Project background

Meet Mohammed

Training in Sept 2016 reaching out in an area near to Mohammed

Mohammed was born in a remote village in eastern Malawi.For decades, his family has been full of individuals who have been born, lived their entire lives and then died as Muslims.A normal person in his community is a strong follower of Islam and resists the Gospel of Jesus Christ.These are precious people made in the image of God and that is the way that one of our trained sports ministry coaches in the area views them.

Just a few months ago, one of our coaches, Kumbu was trained to be a sports ministry coach who specifically reaches out to Muslims.   He left the Sports Friends training full of the joy of the Lord and zeal for reaching the lost with the Gospel through the platform of sports.  Coach Kumbu quickly had a crowd as his church helped him buy a ball to start his team with.   His team was full of young Muslim boys who were deeply excited and interested to become part of this new soccer team in their village.  The ball was rolling and the ground and the Lord was moving in hearts.

One thing that we always try to encourage our new coaches to do is to get to know the families of the kids who are on their teams.  Coach Kumbu took this to heart and got to know each and every family of his players. Even though he was a Christian among many Muslims, coach Kumbu earned the respect of his village. For the first time, he had a voice in his community.  Little did he know that God was about to speak powerfully through him.

Once he had the relationships and respect of his players, their families and the community, Coach Kumbu carefully began to gently introduce people to Christ.  He would teach his team the Sports Friends character studies that are specifically geared towards communities that are resistant to the preaching of God’s Word.   The Lord magnificently used these studies during soccer practice to awaken a hunger in the kids of Kumbu’s team for biblical truth.  Mohammed really leaned in to hear what this man named Jesus is all about.  As as he leaned in to listen closely, something profound happened inside of Him.  The Lord, by His great mercy and love, “took the blinders off” of Mohammed and it was like someone switched the lights on for this boy for the first time as he saw the glory of God in the Gospel and specifically in the person of Jesus Christ.   He got it! And his life changed forever.  From that moment, Mohammed was not the same, and his actions quickly followed.  He began to desire new things that lined up with God’s Word and think new thoughts because of the Holy Spirit residing inside of him.  He was a changed person. 

It didn’t take long for Mohammed’s parents to begin noticing significant positive behavioral changes in their boy and they went straight to Coach Kumbu. They asked the coach why.  Why is our boy different?  Why is he not fighting often with others now/ Why does he want to help more around the house?  Why?   And Coach didn’t have the answer to the Why questions because he knew it wasn’t about behavioral change or some new discipline that their boy picked up from coach. Coach pointed them to the one word question they should be asking a different question:  Who?   And by God’s incredible saving grace, when Mohammed’s parents asked the “Who” question, Coach Kumbu pointed them straight to Jesus and today the whole family is redeemed by the blood of the risen Lamb.  Mohammed and his whole family have come to faith in Christ, have been baptized into the local church and are growing in discipleship.  Glory be to Christ for his salvific work in the heart of lost people!  They are His now.

*for security reasons, the names “Mohammed” & “Kumbu” are not real names.

Prayer requests

Praise God for the way he has worked through our ministry trainings and camps over the past few months. We have never had such a busy season with churches asking us to train so many new people, but God has been near and really blessed our efforts.

Praise the Lord for His provision so that we can hire a lady (Chisomo) as part-time Sports Friends staff to help boost the netball ministry.

Pray for the hundreds of local church sports ministry leaders who now have a solid foundation in the ministry and are using this to reach many souls for Christ.

Please pray for wisdom for us as there are many churches now that are asking us to partner with.  We need to know where God is leading.  So many options but we want His plan.

Praise the Lord for three partnerships we have with two Malawian church denominations and one pastors fraternal.

Pray for the Africa Evangelical Church and their national sports ministry coordinator, Peter Ntopa.  Also, please pray for the other denominational sports ministry coordinator for the Evangelical Baptist Church of Malawi, Peterson Kaipa.

Praise the Lord that He has clearly opened up the door to minister in the eastern region of Malawi!  We have already trained over 195 sports ministry leaders in this region and God is moving in the darkness of this area.

Praise God for our first official short-term missionary, Daniel Chang who has been an immense blessing to the ministry here.

Pray for the nation of Malawi as a whole as this has been a terribly difficult time of struggle because of the drought that has ravaged many areas.

Pray for Sports Friends Staff as we continue to need more help at the national leadership level.

Priase God for several families who have recently come to the Lord through this ministry.  This is why we do what we do!  Redemption!

Coach praying for his player at a recent Sports Friends Malawi camp

Progress

The Lord continues to use this work magnificently in the lives of many young Malawians. Over 6,100 youth are being coached and loved by their trained sports ministry coach and many are surrendering their lives to Christ because of the joy and love they see from their coach and the church he/she is connected to. There are 409 trained sports ministry leaders making a difference in Malawi for the fame of Christ. Both male and female coaches have been trained and are shaking this nation with the Gospel.  The ministry is simple, church-based, and sustainable for development and growth.

April 2016 was an amazing time as we hosted the Sports Friends regional director.  He was able to go with us to areas of Malaw where people are living and dying without the gospel to cast vision to church planters and pastors there.  God used this time to confirm the need to pour into these few churches who are living among many people of a different faith that is resistant to the Gospel.  Our regional director’s words were so powerful to us, “The time is now!  These people are ready to be trained now.  We must train them and allow God to sweep across this area of Malawi in power!” 

In the month of May, we hosted a short term missionary, Kelsey, who is a top women’s goalkeepers in the USA.  She facilitated and led our first ever goalies camp and coaches training specifically for goalkeeping.  This was a wonderful time where the coaches came with their goalies and were able to take their relationship deepen their relationship with players.  

In June we held a Basic Training for key church leaders in the area we traveled to in April. It was a productive time of vision and strategic ministry planning. At the end of the month we hosted our second Training of Trainers with eight new trainers from each denomination we work with.  This proved to be a fruitful time with these new church leaders.  Now they can conduct Basic Trainings in their own denominations. This is a huge development for Sports Friends Malawi!

July was a camp focused month with support from several short-term missionaries from around the world. July 17-20 we held a soccer camp for 6 teams from the central region of Malawi. There was over 120 boys at the camp and 12 boys gave their lives fully to the Lord. Many others took new steps with God.  July 20-22 we had a netball camp with 6 girls teams from the capital city of Malawi.  This also was a wonderful time watching God move.  By the end of the month our team was exhausted and even a bit sick from overexerting ourselves.

School was out the month of August making this a key time of training.  The first week of August we helped run sports ministry program at the Africa Evangelical Church annual youth camp. August 17-21, we had simultaneous trainings going on with a Basic Training in the eastern region and another discipleship coaches training in Blantyre. 

In September we had a Basic Training in Mangochi training 20 more sports ministry leaders on how they can use sports to share the Gospel with Muslims. We look forward to seeing the fruit of our labors in this land of hard soil.   Also, we had a chance to renew our church partnerships and have a time of planning and prayer as we planned for 2017 ministry.  Praise be to the Lord for all the amazing things that He has done in the past 6 months!  So many new people trained and sent out into ministry to proclaim the greatness of Jesus Christ in Malawi.   

Project background

Sports Friends began ministering in Malawi in 2012 with the desired objective of launching a nationwide movement of churches using the platform of sports for intentional evangelism, discipleship and church planting purposes. Four years later, sports ministry is a growing movement among the evangelical churches and church planters of Malawi, which God is using to expand His Kingdom. Well over 200 youth have come to faith in Christ; and hundreds of young people are being discipled to become more mature followers of Christ.  Sport is a magnet that attracts young people and creates an environment for relationship building, which leads to opportunities to share the love and Word of God. The relationships built with young people through sport, can also extend into opportunities to reach the family and wider community. Sports Friends' vision and focus is developing ongoing and sustainable sports ministry programs in Malawi that are fully managed and funded by the local national church. Sports Friends strategy is to 1) share vision, 2) train local church sports ministry leaders, 3.) provide ongoing support, mentoring and training to these leaders, and 4.) develop leadership capacity for Sports Ministry within the national & regional church structures and denominations.

 


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