June 8, 2015
It may just seem like fun and games but sports play a major role in the fabric of cultures around the world. Historically, sporting events have commanded the largest television audiences. Meanwhile, competitions like the World Cup and the Olympic Games bring a friendly element to foreign relations. Athletic games are an international language that builds community and breaks down barriers.
Even in the most remote areas of the world, children follow the successes and failures of their favorite teams. With such a unifying grip on society, it only makes sense that sports would also play a special role in spreading the Gospel.
e3 SportReach harnesses this powerful influence to break down barriers in some of the spiritually darkest parts of the world. The strategy is simple: engage the local community in the games they enjoy and intentionally build relationships along the way. Even in communities with a history of persecution towards Christians, people come out of the woodwork to join in.
“We build on that common passion to build a level of trust and use that to share our stories.” remarks Chad Tabor, SportReach Strategy Director.
When the soccer or volleyballs come out, so does the community. Regardless of the game, the expedition teams jump in and get involved. Rather than bringing in western games, they embrace what the people already enjoy.
They don’t bring much gear either, with one exception – the eBall. The tournament-quality soccer ball is a powerful tool that can be used to communicate the Gospel through its color patterns.
“It’s well made and eye-catching,” Chad commented. “People are enamoured with it. They’re used to playing with something much more rudimentary.”
After a few hours of play, the team will often call for a break and begin showing the eBall to everyone around.
“Did you know this ball tells a story?”
As he progresses through the colors, they explain what each one means and how it relates to the Gospel. Men and boys who were once resistant to the story of Jesus become open to the message.
It’s never just about the sports for the sake of sports. At the end of the day, it always comes back to building and expanding the church. It’s about using the influence and passion that surrounds international sports to break down barriers and introduce people to Christ.