Story from guest author: M.L. Woodruff, Sports Outreach Minister at Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Sports Ministry mobilizes people into ministry – particularly men.
This mobilization into ministry is one of the reasons we encourage Local Churches to get involved in Sports Ministry. M.L. Woodruff recently shared the following story to vividly illustrate this point:
Marc Mader had been a member of Istrouma Baptist Church for over 13 years. Marc would consider himself a committed Christian who loved God, practiced the Christian disciplines, gave willingly to the church and other God-centered ministries, however, Marc had never attended a small group with his wife or other men.
This past summer, our Istrouma Sports Ministry partnered with our missions team to offer a mission trip to Brooklyn, New York. Our sports offerings included baseball, basketball, football and soccer. Marc, a lover of baseball and the Yankees, was the first to sign up.
After Marc’s sign up, our mission director contacted me and asked if I knew Marc. She gave me the background on his love for baseball. I contacted Marc and he told me his story and how he was connected to Istrouma and his love for baseball. In the conversation I found out that I had taught Marc’s son while I was teaching and coaching in an earlier time of my life.
Marc had a wonderful time in Brooklyn and helped me coach a baseball clinic. I noticed that he engaged well with kids and he had the unusual ability to coach the child’s heart. I am not sure if he or the child was enjoying these moments the greatest. I noticed his giftedness and asked if he would consider helping coach in our Istrouma Sports league. He immediately said, “I will do whatever you need me to do.”
The Brooklyn trip ended and God used our team to lead over 10 participants to Christ. God had used Marc in a mighty way on our team. I had built a solid relationship with Marc and could see God using him amazing ways.
“Whatever you need me to do”
Fast forward a couple of months, for our Istrouma Sports Football league, we were looking for football coaches to fill spots. I thought of Marc and contacted him about being an assistant. Instantaneously, he said, “I will do whatever you need me to do.” Marc became an assistant coach for the Raiders. I again noticed what a wonderful job he did. Midway through the season, we had a head coach who had to move out of state creating a coaching vacancy. Once again, we thought of Marc. We made the phone call and could you believe that Marc once again said he “would do whatever we need him to do.”
Marc quickly built relationships with his new team. He gained their trust and was given the task of presenting the Gospel and asking kids if they were ready to receive Christ. On that evening of practice, three of his players received Christ.
So Marc, a 13 year pew sitter, took an opportunity to go on a mission trip which led him to discover God’s gifts and abilities inside of him. That would lead him to be an assistant coach and then to a head coach which in turn, God used him to lead 3 players to Christ.
Sports Ministry mobilizes people into ministry – particularly men. Jesus told us, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37,38) Sports Ministry can and often is one of the Lord’s answers to those prayers.