Friday, October 17, 2014

Prayer in the Life of a Sportsperson

Occasionally I am privileged to speak at a local church. Sometimes I even get to speak about matters of faith and sport. One such occasion was this past Sunday at my home church, Lakeland Baptist Church, in Carbondale, Illinois (USA). I spoke about Prayer in a sportsperson’s life. The talk included many aspects of a sportsperson’s life and how prayer may be helpful in it.

This is a link to the site where I have been posting prayers for people in sport to use. http://prayerinsport.blogspot.com/  


As Jesus gave His disciples a model for prayer, we must also provide some models to assist them as they learn to pray and to thereby welcome the Lord Jesus into each day’s training, conditioning, and competition. I hope the prayers are of some benefit to you and those you serve.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity

In light of the dramatic increase in academic research activity and practical initiatives on the topic of sports and Christianity over the last decade, the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at York St John University (YSJU), York, UK are hosting an Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity (IGCSC), 24-28th August, 2016. The Bible Society and YSJU are collaborating in the development and delivery of this global event.

Keynote Speakers include Professors Stanley Hauerwas, Shirl Hoffman, Michael Novak, Bishop James Jones and Anne-Wafula Strike MBE.

York St John University campus is at the heart of the beautiful and historic city of York (see http://www.visityork.org/).

A part of the congress is a sport-themed service in York Minster, one of Europe’s finest cathedrals  (see http://www.yorkminster.org/home.html).

The attached Pdf. Brochure and website provide further information on the congress: http://www.yorksj.ac.uk/health--life-sciences/faculty-of-hls/faculty-events/igcsc.aspx  


If you are interested in receiving further information about this event, email the congress convener, Dr Nick J. Watson (igcsc2016@yorksj.ac.uk), who will add you to an email-contact list.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Student-athlete Testimony

On occasion, I am privileged to hear one of the student-athletes in whom I invest my life express his or her faith in a unique way. One such instance occurred a couple of weeks ago as we held a Fellowship of Christian Athletes large group meeting on campus at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. This was the first one we have even tried to do in the twenty years of our service with the university’s student-athletes and coaches.

The notes below are from the talk prepared by a senior swimmer from Wisconsin who has been attending weekly FCA meetings in my home since she was a freshman. It has been a joy to watch her develop in every facet of her life. I trust you’ll sense some of that development and the process of it in the notes. I am very proud of Holly and her heart-felt, candid talk with her teammates and other peers.

My Faith in Sport
·        Holly Johnson - Senior, Major-Science
·        Thank Roger and my FCA members for this opportunity to speak none the less at the premier large group meeting, very much along the theme of this as a night of firsts, this is also my first time speaking about my faith in sport. It really makes you think about what you believe when you will be sharing these thoughts with an audience of young adults.
·        Before I dive into the thick of it, I’d like to take a few moments to highlight my favorite things about FCA.
o   Number one is the relaxing environment- I look forward to being able to sit among people I am comfortable and discuss ideas that aren’t brought up in my chemistry class, without having to worry about whether or not there is a solutions manual online.
o   The people- Roger is the man, Sharon is a domestic diva (there is food, and I’m not sure if it is my age or my sport, but I have no shame in eating more servings than the football players, and I have connected with athletes that I wouldn’t have otherwise even thought to say hi to in passing.
o   The conversation- outlooks on things I couldn’t understand on my own, people sharing their individual wisdom to provoke thinking of the entire group.
o   The understanding. As college athletes our lives are demanding, and even though it may seems like an easy commitment especially when there are delicious desserts involved 1 hour a week is one less hour you can spend on studying or Netflix if we are being realistic. So there have been many times over my three years so far that I have missed a Tuesday or maybe a couple in a row, but what I truly love about this group is that they understand, no questions asked and welcome you back with open arms and sometimes peach cobbler.
·        Now, I’d like to discuss my faith and how it has helped shape my athletic career.
o   For the majority of my life thus far I believed what I was told and sat in religion class, thinking its only purpose was to make us suffer in the best way they could imitate Jesus having to cross the desert with people that doubted him so many years ago.
o   But at some point in the previous few years, it finally clicked. I decided that I didn’t have to believe the same exact things that were written in some book of catholic rules for how to kneel on a tiny bench thing and not look uncomfortable, but instead that I could take all the knowledge I had gathered from different people, events, and the Bible to decide what it all meant to me. After figuring this out, the rest seemed so simple.   From my interpretation, everything came down to the idea that there is something out there bigger than myself. I like to refer to that something as a someone and call him/or her God. I owe these realizations not only to FCA, but to swimming.
o   As I stand behind the blocks before a race there are many things running through my head. For example, dang these straps are really tight, boy is that last 25 going to a hurt, I wonder what new flavors they have at Chill, why did I pick a sport that has me half naked waiting to flail until my muscles give out in a freezing pool of shame and chemicals, you get the idea. But before my best races, there is always one thing on my mind. This happened for the first time my sophomore year at our midseason invite, I was standing behind the blocks blasting Spanish music to liven the mood when I started contemplating how lucky I was. I was truly happy, I felt loved and secure, and I knew I was about to have a great race, and I did. I decided, this overwhelming feeling of contentment was a product of my faith. Now, as I compete for my final season, my faith is greater than ever. I am so overcome with thankfulness for the opportunity to swim at this level surrounded by people that have a common goal. I owe everything I have to the great mastermind behind constructing this horrible but wonderful world we live in. After attributing my success in and out of the pool and my newfound mental toughness as an athlete, to my faith,  I began to use this to help myself become a better friend and team mate.
o   As an individual sport, swimming can be cut throat. It is easy to blame your failures on your coaches, but ultimately the pressure is always on yourself. In the same competitive way, teammates can lose site of the camaraderie aspect and lean toward selfish tendencies. As an athlete that now relies on her beliefs and upstairs onlooker to get her though the day, it becomes easier to put things in perspective. Just taking a few moments to reflect on a situation whether good or bad, is a type of patience that counts on faith. When I think about how much I love my team mates, even though I know one of them just skipped half of warm up, or beat me in a race, or took my spot on a relay that is because of my faith. It taught me that the love I have experienced for my team and for the sport is the most real emotion a person can have. And that feeling is why we all show up for “20” hours of practice a week and feel blessed because of it. When you try to really capture how lucky we all are to be playing a sport at a division 1 university, decked out in free clothes, surrounded by people that want us to achieve our absolute best, it is impossible to deny that there is something else out there that really knows what’s up. In the big scheme of things my reliance on something that is more than I could ever be, keeps me humble and reassured. When you think about how many seconds or tenths of a second separate world class athletes from someone like myself, it’s almost laughable. That hilarity captures everything that seems unexplainable, and defines it in one word. Faith. Have I had doubts? Of course! Do I pray all the time and ask questions? Absolutely. But no matter what, my core beliefs never waiver.

o   My hope is that by sharing my thoughts today, you can walk away with a sense of confidence that this life we are living is about experiencing as much as we can before what comes next. In this way no experience is bad or good, but rather exactly what we needed to become who we are. As soon as you are confident in your beliefs, even the most major issues become trivial and swimming an event as terrifying as the 200 fly becomes a piece of cake.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Thanks for your prayers!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for our work in Indianapolis last week. We were privileged to gather a great team of men and women from India, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Australia, and from the USA they came in from Missouri, Michigan, North Carolina, Indiana, and Illinois. We worked long hours and experienced a tremendous amount of unity as we collaborated on a basic, introductory training course for sports chaplains that will be delivered in six one hour sessions. I am forever indebted to this excellent set of men and women for their excellent contributions and their loving partnership.

We received tremendous contributions from these organizations as well:
Traders Point Christian Church – Indianapolis, IN – our hosts
Sports Chaplaincy Australia
Sports Chaplains Network - USA
Sports Chaplaincy New Zealand
Sport for Life – Sweden
Sports Chaplaincy United Kingdom
RBC Ministries and www.sport.org – USA
The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
Fellowship of Christian Athletes

The training will be comprised of a pdf to download which has the strong content of the training, an approximately five minute video to watch that will illustrate the main points of the session, and on screen instructions for the trainee. We worked hard to keep the language very basic as we believe most of our trainees will be second language English speakers. We also aim to keep the documents brief and the video short in duration, being mindful that not everyone on the planet has high speed Internet. We aimed to be user friendly for our friends who are working at old school, dial up Internet speeds.

As we outlined last week, the training consists of these primary categories to be delivered in one hour sessions:
1.   Introduction / Profile of Sportspeople
2.   A Biblical Foundation for Sport Chaplain Ministry
3.   Profile of a Sport Chaplain / Code of Conduct for Sport Chaplains
4.   A Sport Chaplain’s Relationships
5.   Serving as a Sport Chaplain in Critical Incidents and Crises
6.   A Sport Chaplain’s Strategies, Methods, Resources, and a Process for Beginning

A little bit of final editing will be done over the next few weeks to gain continuity of format, page design, etc. and to check spelling, grammar, and other items of detail. We aim to do this with excellence.


I will be presenting the content of our work during the InSport meetings of our Sports Ministry network during meetings in Orlando, FL in November. Once it is finalized, approved, and then loaded onto the website, I will be sure to inform you of the address. We would then be thrilled to have you include it in your training, to link to it from your web site, and to use it in other ways that benefit the growth of this sort of ministry around the world. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Please join us in Prayer

Please join me in prayer for the very important meetings that will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA next week. From Monday through Friday, a number of men and women from all around the world will be gathered at Traders Point Christian Church to gather, assemble, simplify, and prepare a set of training materials that will set a global standard for the most basic training for people to serve as Sport Chaplains.

This training material will be hosted on-line with a set of instructions (on pdf) to read, some on screen information to lead the process, and a video for each section which informs, inspires, and illustrates the written material.

A general outline for the materials is below. Please pray that we may present something that is worthy of Christ Jesus, is respectful of a wide spectrum of sport and cultural distinctions, and is easily understood from anywhere on the planet. Thanks.

Six one hour sessions of training material in these categories:
1.   Introduction / Profile of Sportspeople
2.   A Biblical Foundation for Sport Chaplain Ministry
3.   Profile of a Sport Chaplain / Code of Conduct for Sport Chaplains
4.   A Sport Chaplain’s Relationships, Attitudes, and Presence
5.   Serving as a Sport Chaplain in Critical Incidents and Crises

6.   A Sport Chaplain’s Strategies, Methods, Resources, and a Process for Beginning 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ministry in European Athletics (Track and Field)

Stuart Weir of Verité Sport in the United Kingdom has a unique way of serving sportspeople as a chaplain. He works in the twin roles of sports journalist and sports chaplain in the world of athletics (track and field for us Yanks). Last week Stuart sent me a note that I thought had insight worth sharing with you. I hope it is of value to you and to those you serve.

Roger

The longer I do this ministry in Track and Field - with no official role of status but with:
1. Opportunity to lead 8 Bible Studies at events this year;
2. Literally 100s of conversations
3. Unofficial recognition and encouragement by British Athletics...

The more I recognize the importance of knowing when to be there and when to leave.  Much of my work involves sitting in hotel receptions (lobbies).  Knowing when to leave, when I have stopped ministering and have become a pain - ie athletes feel they have to talk to me to entertain me, is very important.

Just a thought

Stuart

J Stuart Weir
19 The Glebe
Cumnor
Oxford
OX2 9QA

+44 1865 864265
Mob +44 7710 800539


Friday, September 5, 2014

More Prayer in Sport

It’s been a month since I first wrote about the lack of models for prayer that we have offered the people of sport. Rather than just bemoan this fact, I have begun to write some such prayers about various matters, situations, and issues in sport which I have prayed and believe we need to present models for prayer. Please send along your comments, suggestions, and editing remarks. A few new prayers are below for your review or even to pass along to those you serve.

Prayer for off-season training:
Father,
The season seems like it is so distant that my flesh tempts me with idle thoughts of leisure.
My heart longs to compete and my body needs to train.
Please fuel my entire being with energy, passion, and strength for this session of training.
Fill my mind with visions of victory, my soul with the rhythm of powerful movement, and my heart with worshipful, exhilarating expression of Your worth.
I pray in Jesus' strong name,
Amen.

Prayer for an injured teammate:
Father,
My teammate is injured and I confess my shock, fear, and utter helplessness.
Please minimize his pain, heal his body, and restore him to compete again.
Please be very near to him in these moments of alienation and fear.
I commit my teammate; body, mind, and spirit, to Your lovingkindness.
Amen.

Half-time prayer:
Father,
Half of this day's competition in (sport) is complete.
Thank you for carrying my teammates and me through it.
I confess the sin that was revealed in it and I seek to do better in the next half.
Please enable my coaches and teammates to adjust well, to be refreshed, and to experience another half of (sport) in Your honor, surrounded
by Your presence.
Amen.

Prayer during time outs:
Father,
As competition has paused, my heart will rest, my mind will refresh, and my spirit will be renewed.
I return to compete powerfully, to serve selflessly, and to lead fearlessly.
Amen.

Post-game prayer:
Father,
Thank you for today's competition.
Thank you for energizing my effort, renewing my mind, inhabiting my spirit, and receiving my effort as an act of worship.
I confess the sin You revealed as I competed.
I release the results, my performance, and tonight's rest and recovery to Your gracious care.
Amen.

Prayer for renewed strength:
Almighty Father,
My legs feel rubbery and my back is sore.
My arms hang down and my shoulders slump.
Please infuse me with Your strength.
Please restore power to my body, mind, and spirit.
You are the strength of my life and my portion forever.
I commit all that I am and all that I have to You.
In Jesus' strong name I pray,
Amen.

Prayer for approaching a stressful moment:
Wise and Gracious Father,
Thank you for the way that (sport) tests all that I am.
These next hours will stress all that I profess to believe and to practice.
Please renew my heart to strongly serve You and Your purposes at every moment.
I commit this day, its competition, its stress, and its results to You.
I rest in Your peace and stride ahead in Your confidence.
Amen.

Prayer to process a poor play or a disappointing performance:
Father,
I am not pleased with my most recent performance in (sport).
I confess the sin and weakness that was exposed by my reaction to failure.
I affirm the security of heart the and peace of mind afforded by Your love, grace, and mercy.
I am presently and eternally reminded that my identity is found in relationship with You.
I commit myself to continuing development as a competitor and as a follower of Christ.
In Jesus' strong name I pray.
Amen.

Prayer after a satisfying performance:
Father in Heaven,
Thank You for this most satisfying experience in (sport).
I know I was surrounded Your presence throughout the contest
I am pleased with the results, but find more satisfaction in the whole process.
I sense Your hand in the preparation and in the competition..
Thank You for my rich and fulfilling life in (sport).
Amen.

Prayer after a bitter defeat:
Father,
Losing like this is painful and leaves a bitter taste in our mouths.
Failures like this threaten to rob us of the joy and satisfaction we love about (sport).
Please restore my heart, my body, and my mind.
Help us learn from this defeat and return to compete again.
Please return to us the passion for and fulfillment of our lives in (sport).
Amen.

Prayer for one's coaches:
Father,
Thank you for providing wise, skilled, and inspirational coaches for our team.
I respect their authority, trust their judgment, and affirm their leadership.
May they coach strongly, lead compassionately, and compete courageously.
May my teammates and I exemplify loyalty, passion, and teamwork as we follow our coaches.
I pray in Jesus' strong name.

Amen.