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.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Journal Excerpt - 2012 Football Preseason

Below is an excerpt from my 2012 journal with Saluki Football. It details much of my activity and interaction with the coaches and players during the weeks leading up to the opening day. I hope it is of interest to you and maybe spurs you to creative innovation of ministry strategies.

2012 Saluki Football Journal
Roger Lipe – Team Chaplain

Friday August 3 – This evening I was privileged to speak with the incoming freshmen and other newcomers of Saluki Football.  I met them in the locker room after I had hustled back from Kokopelli Golf Club where I had run an FCA Golf Scramble all day.  I was introduced by Coach Lennon and after he finished his remarks he left me with the players.  There seemed to be over 20 of them gathered in a large circle at the center of the room.  I asked them to tell me where they grew up and this gave me an early look at how they would communicate.  I simply shared my 18 years with the program, what my responsibilities, goals and values were and the fact that I am here to serve them.  I distributed a piece of paper with my contact information on it.  It is below.

Saturday August 4 – The veterans reported today and the day was full of check in procedures and such.  I came in for the opening team meeting, dinner and then we began a new item for the pre-fall.  I interviewed Coach Schweigert at the conclusion of dinner with a few questions aimed at helping the players know their coaches more deeply than just their names and the positions they coach.  We will aim to interview two coaches each evening and to add in a person from the support staff as well.

Interview Questions for Saluki Football Coaches:
Various Nights – Interviewed by Roger Lipe or Coach Lennon

1.  Please tell us your name, title and the position you coach.
2.  Please tell us a little bit about your home town.
3.  When and where did you attend college?
4.  Share one highlight from either your college football playing career or coaching career.
5.  What are some of the qualities possessed by the best players you have coached?
6.  Why did you choose coaching football as a career?

          As we finished dinner, the interview and then Coach Lennon’s final remarks, the players and I went to the locker room for the first of five Team Building sessions.  Our theme this evening was “Family” and the questions I used for discussion and introduction of the seniors are below.  The players engaged well as I had them grouped by position group.

The Team - Family – Group Discussions
·        Tell us a little about the family in which you have grown up.
·        Who were the people in your family for whom you have greatest respect?  Why?
·        Are there people to whom you’re not blood related, who are like family to you?  Tell us about them.

Saluki Football Seniors –
·        Tell us your name, your home town, your high school’s team mascot, the position you play, and your uniform number.
·        What are some goals you have for the Saluki Football Family this season?
·        In your years as a Saluki Football player, who are some of the people who have become like family to you?
·        What are some of the factors that turn teammates into brothers?

Sunday August 5 – I was up at 4:30 this morning and out to the stadium a little after 5:00 for this morning’s chapel at 6:00.  The turf was wet and the air was heavy after the strong rain and storms overnight.  My chapel talk was about “Sacrifice and Commitment” and my text was Luke 9:57-62.  I challenged the players with the idea that being a follower of Christ and a college football player is neither comfortable nor convenient and it’s very exclusive.  After the chapel talk, they stretched, did some review and then went to meetings prior to the 8:15 practice.  I stayed through practice and joined the team for brunch.  During that time I was stopped by two players who asked me to pray for family members.  QB Matt Vincent’s uncle from Jamaica has been diagnosed with a cancerous lump in his chest.  He is in Florida with family presently.  Then at dinner, FB Rik Hicks asked me to pray with him for his grandmother who is set to have heart bypass surgery on Tuesday in Carbondale.  We prayed together in the concession stand and I made plans to see the family in the hospital tomorrow.

          Later in the afternoon I joined the team for dinner and then interviewed Coaches DeBoer and Stepps as well as Head Athletic Trainer Lee Land.  The questions we’ll use to interview support staff personnel are below.

Interview Questions for Saluki Football Support Staff:
Various Nights – Interviewed by Roger Lipe or Coach Lennon

Please share this information with our Saluki Football Family:
·        Your name, your job title and your number of years at SIU.
·        Your responsibilities as related to Saluki Football.
·        A story about one of your best days with Saluki Football.
·        A story about one of your most challenging days with Saluki Football.
·        Why is this role important to you?
·        Two or three key values for how you do your job.

Monday August 6 – I was at practice for a while today and then went about the rest of my day.  At dinner I checked in with Matt Vincent about his uncle and with Rik about his grandmother.  As dinner was winding down, I interviewed Coaches Hedberg and Schmidt as well as Asst. A.D. Mark Scally.  After dinner I went to Memorial Hospital in Carbondale and took a copy of “Soul Food Heart Fuel” to the Hicks family.  I spent some time with them and could see the relief on their faces.  The surgery had gone very well and they expect grandma to be up and walking tomorrow.

Tuesday August 7 – Today’s 8:15 am practice was full of anticipation as they finally got to put on shoulder pads.  The drills had another gear and the whole atmosphere was charged with more intensity.  I had a team event at which I was the featured speaker for Mt. Vernon High School Football this evening so I missed dinner and Coach Lennon handled the interviews with Coaches Crutchley and Flyger and with Miss Sharon.

Wednesday August 8 – Today’s practice was another one in shells and it seemed to be okay as I was there for the first half hour.  I left and picked up Pastor Troy Benitone at his church.  We visited coaches at Carterville, Johnston City and Herrin High Schools for their first practices of the season.  They and Marion will be at an event we will do together on next Tuesday.
          I was back in the locker room at 3:00 for a half hour team building session.  Today’s theme was “Thankfulness” and we had a good discussion about that and then introduced the juniors to the team.  I had them grouped by uniform numbers today.  We finished right on time and released them to their meetings.  I went upstairs and spoke with Coach Lennon for a minute as I was struck by a couple of glaring omissions among the answers I heard to the question, “For whom or what are you thankful?”  I did not hear a single mention of either a father or a high school coach.  I found that terribly disappointing and maybe indicative of how entitled this generation of young men are.
          After a dinner of Salisbury steak from Mary Lou’s we interviewed Coaches Myer and Jackson as well as Mike Reis, the voice of the Salukis for 34 years.  Mike had some very strong words for the players and I hope they were received and will be remembered.

Thursday August 9 - Today marked the first day of full pads practice and I was at practice for a good while before going on with my day’s work.  I met the team at the Arena for dinner and interviewed graduate assistants Cory Wagner and Zac Rudolph as well as Equipment Manager Adam Borts.  I had another talk with Rik Hicks as his grandmother had further surgery to repair some internal bleeding.

Friday August 10 – This was the first day of double sessions and the 8:15 am practice was in full pads.  I was there for a good while, still working to memorize names and speaking with players and coaches.  I had work to do midday so I left pretty early and returned to campus to catch the last 45 minutes of the afternoon practice which was in shells.  I was at the team dinner, but we did no interviews.

Saturday August 11 – This morning at 8:15 we had the first scrimmage of the pre-fall in Saluki Stadium.  We had officials and a spirited scrimmage.  Prior to the start Coach Lennon informed me of Antonio Banks’ departure and the conversation he had with him and his parents.  It seems he could not handle being fourth on the depth chart and was not willing to put in the work to climb higher.  Coach Lennon handled it very well by calling the parents and by not buying Antonio’s first story as to why he was leaving.
          The scrimmage seemed to go well as some players made big plays on both sides of the ball.  Some of the young players may be ready to make an impact.  After the scrimmage I returned home and made final preparations for Team Building this afternoon.
          At 1:30 in the locker room we had Team Building session number 3.  Our theme was “Team First.”  I handed out copies of a chart I have had for a while of Maslow’s developmental model which details the progression from “unconscious incompetence” to “conscious incompetence” to “conscious competence” to finally, “unconscious competence.”  The point was that for our team to be at its best, each individual player must be committed to continual development and to a team first mentality that seeks the team’s best over his own.  After my talk we broke into groups, interviewed the sophomores and then introduced them to the team.  We finished with two minutes to spare and I challenged them at the end to be team first players.
          After that was concluded, Sharon and I made a run to Sam’s to buy items for breakfasts and more.  We returned and then met the people from Martin’s Catering at the Arena for dinner.  At the end of the dinner I interviewed Coach Clete McLeod, Marty Rodgers and Sean Plumlee.  After some cleaning up, Sharon and I returned home.

Sunday August 12 – I was up at 5:00 today to finalize my chapel talk which I delivered at 6:00 am.  It was a follow up to yesterday’s “Team First” theme and came from Psalm 90 and verses 1 and 12-17.   I emphasized that this psalm was the prayer of Moses, one of the greatest leaders in history, but his language was entirely about us and we, not me and I.
          After chapel, the stretch and walk through, I joined the players and coaches at breakfast.  Sharon and I did some clean up as we finished and then returned home.  I attended church and then went to Rent One Park for pre-game chapels with the Miners and the Gateway Grizzlies and prayer with the umpires.  I watched a couple of innings of the game and then returned home.

Monday August 13 – Today was an off day for the team, but it included a bowling tournament at the SIU Student Center at 3:00 and Team Building in the locker room at 5:00.  Today’s topic was “Loyalty.”  My discussion questions invited them to think about a dictionary definition of the word, personal experiences with loyalty being shown them and how they demonstrate it with others.  I also asked them about situations which test their loyalty.
          I challenged them strongly and said that our team, last year, failed the loyalty test.  We had entirely too much second guessing about play calling, who was and who wasn’t on the field and other matters.  I told them that although the coaches can’t hear such comments because of their wearing headphones and being focused on the game, I can hear it all.  Last year I bit my tongue for the most part, but this year I will not.  When I hear that kind of talk on the sideline or on the bus, I will call the person out and stop it.  We are a lesser team when this happens and we must be more loyal to coaches and teammates.
          We then introduced all the redshirt freshmen and then turned them loose to meet with Coach Lennon for his Head Coach’s Review meeting.
          At the close of a wonderful dinner by the Barbecue Heroes, we interviewed Kristina Therriault, Tom Weber and A.D. Mario Moccia.  After dinner I drove to the Lake of Egypt to start my annual study retreat.

Wednesday August 15 – I went to the afternoon practice after I wrapped up my annual study retreat and spoke with Coach Lennon and several players.  I attended the team dinner and spoke with several players and coaches during that time.  No interviews this evening as we had two practices today.

Thursday August 16 – I was at the morning practice and continued to work on memorizing names and numbers.  I spoke with Coach Lennon about who we should invite to dinner this evening for our support staff interviews.  I sent Sharon a text message and she started making contacts.  We wound up having Dan Rohrer and Andy Pettite for the interviews after a dinner by Mary Lou’s Restaurant.  It was a little more difficult to interview these two as the p.a. did not work.

Friday August 17 – I attended this afternoon’s practice in total and enjoyed some good conversations with coaches and players as practice was about to begin.  They’re ready to be done with camp and to play for real.  Tomorrow’s scrimmage may give us some insight as to how ready we really are.  After practice, we had dinner by the Barbecue Heroes in the stadium club.  During dinner I had a very good conversation with Tanner Crum, Jordan Bowlby and Matthew Griffith.

Saturday August 18 – This morning’s scrimmage went well and after it was over I went home for the afternoon.  At 5:00 I took some final breakfast items to the Arena and prepared for Team Building.  I met my friend Mike Jessup at the locker room and then went back to the Arena for the final moments of dinner and interviewed Brad Taylor.  In Team Building Mike Jessup spoke about sacrifice and commitment in a very strong way and then broke 12 inches of concrete blocks with his forearm.  The players loved it and then we interviewed and introduced the true freshmen to their teammates.  The Freshman Talent Show followed.

Sunday August 19 – I awoke at 3:30 this morning and then got up at 4:00 and started drinking coffee while I finalized thoughts for my chapel talk.  I was at the stadium at 5:15 and walked the field while praying for the team, coaches and individual players as well as some friends around the country.
          My chapel talk was taken from Ephesians chapter 4 and verses 1-7.  I talked about team unity, stressing three ideas: living a life worthy of being a Saluki Football player, this is about the team and not about you individually and finally I emphasized that each individual is uniquely gifted and that we need each one’s best every day in order to have the best team possible.  I wrapped up by saying that these values could allow us to achieve as highly as we can dream.
          At 5:00 this afternoon I came to the Arena with the repaired sound system and prepared for the after dinner introductions of the coaches’ spouses.  I was a little early so I sat in on the head coach’s review meeting wherein Coach Lennon wrapped up pre-fall camp with his comments.  He seemed pleased, but cautious that we still have a ways to go to be fully prepared for the August 30 opener.  He mentioned our team GPA for the summer being over 3.0 and dismissed the players to dinner by their summer academic achievements.
          Dinner was catered in by Great Boars of Fire and this evening we were joined by the coaches’ wives and children.  Each coach introduced his family at the end of dinner.  The one painful and awkward situation was the situation with Coach Meyer and his wife.  He and I had been talking about the seeming collapse of their marriage since March and Brandi said today that she would file for divorce.  Phil has done pretty much all he can to restore and recover the situation, but she was unrelenting.  The next months will surely be hard for all concerned.

Wednesday August 22 – There was no practice on Monday as it was the first day of classes and that was followed by the worst practice of the pre-fall on Tuesday.  I was there for a few minutes that day and again on Wednesday afternoon.  I had a good talk with Coach Lennon today as I watched maybe a half hour of practice from 4:00.  We discussed our players’ lack of maturity and the expectations of the team, both internal and external.  It’s good that we have another week to prepare for game 1.

Thursday August 23 – We are now 7 days out from our season opener at Eastern Illinois University.  I was at practice briefly and then went home to prepare for the SIU FCA meeting we would host at 7:00 p.m.

Monday August 27 – After a long work day and almost 300 miles on the road, I went by practice for a few minutes and then Sharon and I met with dozens of others at Buffalo Wild Wings for the Lennon Live radio show.


Tuesday August 28 – After another long day of meetings and miles I went to practice prior to its 6:30 p.m. start.   I had good talks with Coach Lennon, Coach McCleod, a few players and then made my way home.  I am excited to make the trip tomorrow and to play on Thursday.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Changing Strategies - 20 Years In

The last four years of developing some key volunteers to help me serve area coaches and their FCA Campus Ministries, have now allowed me to refocus my attention for the next ten years of my ministry here. Please walk along with me through the thoughts which have resulted in the redesign of how I serve coaches and athletes in my 23 county area of Illinois.

1)   By developing the FCA Campus Ministry Volunteers, I have cut the personal list of counties I serve to 2 and ½. When I started twenty years ago, I was traveling through 28 counties. This is better. Each of the volunteers serve 4 to 7 counties of schools and their FCA huddles. That is a manageable amount of travel and time for them as they are each retired coaches.
2)   I am now able to focus more strongly on the campus at Southern Illinois University. School has been in session for less than a week, but here’s what is happening already:
a.   A new weekly Coaches meeting with university coaches. We will meet in one of the staff’s conference room, we’ll use FCA’s new book, “3D Coaching,” as a platform for our discussions on coaching. The coaches are inviting their colleagues for these 30-45 minute discussions.
b.   The new semester’s FCA meetings began at my home Tuesday evening. We had student-athletes from Volleyball, Football, Swimming, and Softball teams present. This group discussed all the logistics of how they would like to encourage and serve each other and their teammates through the coming semester.
c.   The SIU student-athletes agreed to do a monthly, large group meeting in the football team’s auditorium. They will soon design, plan, promote, and execute these events. Ideally, they’ll be 100% student-athlete led.
d.   Saluki FCA also had a number who were also interested in a more intensive Bible study. We are now deciding the when, where, how often, and subject matter for these studies that will require more reading and preparation.
e.   In addition to all that, I am polling the Salukis to check their interest in my setting aside one day per week for 1 on 1, personal mentoring meetings with them and their teammates. There seems to be good interest and I’m brainstorming which day and a good location for such meetings.
3)   Transformational Coaches is a group of area high school coaches and others in either my or their networks. This group grew out of two conversations with a couple of area coaches who were college baseball teammates and are now head coaches in their respective schools. We met the first time on Wednesday evening. I expected 14 to attend, but 21 coaches were in attendance. We ate some pizza, told stories, networked like crazy, compared notes, and heard an excellent presentation from one of the coaches who helped design the group. The room was full of energy and vision was shared broadly among these coaches who are deeply impacting the lives of their players.
4)   Sport Chaplaincy at SIUC. My twenty-first season of serving Saluki Football began back on August 2 with five sessions of Team Building, two early morning chapel talks, and many visits to practices and team dinners. I will again serve Saluki Women’s Basketball as October arrives, and I anticipate serving Saluki Baseball as well beginning in February or March. Other opportunities may arise from our meetings with coaches and from deeper relationships with other players in various sports.


I am immeasurably blessed to be actively engaged in the ministry I believe God created me to do. Twenty years ago I could never have dreamed wildly enough to imagine even the most pedestrian of my daily activities. I would challenge you to never quit, don’t give up, press on, stay the course, ignore the pain, strain toward the goal, and to seek the Lord’s purposes above all things and at any cost. The arrival at the goal is worth it all. Not just for your own satisfaction and joy, but for the lives you impact upon arrival.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Preseason Notes

Here in the USA schools are starting after the summer vacation and fall sports are gearing up as well. Soccer (football), American football, volleyball, golf, tennis, and even some baseball is played in the months of August through November. This time of year is always exciting because it’s full of anticipation and hope for success.

For sports chaplains and character coaches, this season of the year also presents some unique opportunities for effective ministry. Below is a brief, certainly not exhaustive, list of opportunities and ideas for your ministry with teams or individuals in this new season.
·        Prior to the season’s beginning, visit practices. Obtain a roster and memorize names, uniform numbers, and other details that seem helpful.
·        At preseason practices, speak with the coaching staff, support staff, and players as you can. Build relationships, they are central to everything we do.
·        Look for opportunities to assist the coaching staff in any way possible. Serve, serve, serve, and serve some more.
·        If you are able, attend team meetings and observe the team’s culture, their interaction, the tone of the coaching staff, their expectations, their goals, etc…
·        Look ahead at the schedule to see where ministry opportunities may be for yourself and for others.
·        Speak with the head coach about the possibilities of team chapels, Bible studies, team dinners, a study for the coaches, or other opportunities for ministry. Plan and execute them well.
·        Be sure, if you are serving in a university, to meet with the NCAA compliance officer and make him/her your friend. This person makes a better ally than an enemy. Build a relationship of trust with him or her and it will make your service easier and you won’t have to look over your shoulder constantly worrying about violating a rule.
·        Consider writing a journal of all your interactions with the team. It will sometimes feel rather mundane, but when a whole season’s story is told, it can be quite insightful for yourself and whoever else you allow to read it. I often do this and give it to the head coach after the season so he can see the season from my perspective.
·        Pray, seek favor, pray, build relationships, pray, memorize names, pray, watch your attitude, pray, serve selflessly, pray, and love extravagantly.


Have a wonderful season.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

South Africa Trip Journal excerpts

Below are some excerpts from my trip journal when I traveled to South Africa this summer. I was thrilled with the development of ministry in sport I experienced with our friends and the emergence of sports chaplaincy in that nation. I hope these notes are an encouragement to you.

Trip Journal
South Africa – 28 June – 6 July, 2014

28 June - 7:00 am I drove the three hours from Carbondale to BNA (Nashville, TN) airport. It was an easy and quick check in and security.  I waited at the gate and had some frozen yogurt for lunch. At 1:22 pm we flew United Airlines to IAD airport in Washington D. C. I changed concourses and boarded a South African Airways Airbus 340 jet. We left at 6:00 pm EDT.

29 June - We arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa on time, went quickly through immigration, and then hunted down my checked bags. Upon their arrival I hurried through customs and rechecked my bag. Mt flight was to board in ten minutes so I ran up two escalators and down one very long ticketing hall to security. Once through that I ran to my gate and waited for them to start boarding.

I boarded the plane for the two hour flight to Cape Town. I deplaned, claimed my bags, and met Hein Reyneke for the car ride to his home. We made the 35 minute drive to Stellenbosch and I settled into my room for the week. I was in bed shortly after 10:00.

30 June - I was awakened by my alarm at 6:30 this morning. It was 45 degrees as I showered with the window open. I slept very well as I like cool air for sleeping. Hein made some Starbucks Coffee and we had a good talk. I met his sons, Jaiden and Joshua, as they got up and going. Quinn Evans of FCA in North Carolina came to the house and we each drove to the SCAS (Sport for Christ Action South Africa) camp outside of town. I drove the red VW Jetta with the steering wheel on the right side of the car, driving on the left side of the highway. That was quite an adjustment after 42 years of driving on the other side.

I did an hour plus of camps training, we took a break, and then I did 20 minutes of training on the FCA Camp theme, "All In." Quinn Evans and Ashley Steenkamp prepared the interns to run two camps for the next week by outlining schedules, roles, and expectations as they will divide themselves into teams for each camp.

After that we had lunch and good conversation followed by more camps preparations. At 3:00, Hein and I returned to his house and we had some good discussion with Elzette (Hein’s wife) about Coaches ministry and Missouri Valley Conference Swimming. She swam one year at the University of Evansville.

We walked to Jon Yip's home for his daughter's birthday party.  As Jon and Hein grilled steaks, ribs, chicken, and sausage, we talked a lot about sports chaplaincy and how that's developing around the world.

After dinner I drove back to the SCAS Camp so I could share my testimony with the interns. My testimonial talk's theme was: "The purposes of God in your life are vastly greater than your perceived capacity to fulfill them." (Proverbs 16:3, 16:9, 20:24, 1 Thessalonians 5:24)

1 July - I was up at 6:30 and we left at 7:30 for breakfast with six people of the Stellenbosch Sports Coalition at a local bistro. We talked about sports chaplaincy for two and a half hours. After that group broke up, Casper Steenkamp (IMPACT leader) and I talked for another two hours. He and I then went to the island and I composed two talks for the FCA camps.

At 3:00 Hein and I returned to his house for a while and then went to Somerset West so he could speak to the campers. There are about 70 kids there and it seems things have started well. I listened as Garrett (IMPACT intern) rehearsed his testimony talk with me and I offered encouragement and a couple of suggestions. He delivered his testimony and Hein did his talk at 7:00 pm.

We returned to Hein's home, watched the Argentina vs. Switzerland World Cup game, and I tried to stay up to see the USA vs. Belgium game, but went to bed. I valued energy on Wednesday over football late Tuesday.

2 July - I was awake before 6:00 today and rose early to start the day. I read and prepared for my talk this morning. Just before 9:00 I drove to Somerset West and Urban Voice Church to deliver a "God is all in" talk at the camp. I was early and hung around greeting the interns and informally chatting with several. I did my talk from Genesis 1:24-28 and it seemed to go quite well. Afterward I drove back to Hein's home for a 12:30 meeting with Daniel Thomae of Traing4changeS. He picked me up and we had lunch with his wife, Kendra, and coaches Sylvester and XJ. I had a hamburger with cheese, bacon, and guacamole. We had a great discussion about 3D Coaching, InSideOut Coaching, and character coaching.

After our meeting, Daniel dropped me at a coffee shop where I met Hein for coffee and a chat. We then walked around the downtown district and I bought a few things after he changed dollars into Rand for me. We returned to his house, relaxed and then had a nice dinner as prepared by Elzette. Pea and ham soup, spaghetti with a meat sauce, a mixed vegetable salad, and ciabatta bread.

After dinner, Hein, Josh, and I went out to the SCAS island for Hein's talk at the camp. We returned at 8:00 and chilled until bedtime.

3 July - I was awakened by my alarm at 6:15 after a sound night's sleep. I did my normal morning routine of reading in the Proverbs and Acts, posting a verse from each on Twitter, posting links to both sport devotion sites, and a note from "Heart Fuel Soul Food" as well.

A few men came by Hein's home to chat and for some Bible study. Daniel, Sylvester, Benny (a distance running coach) and I discussed Psalm 90:12-17 and John 12:7-8. Soon after that, Hein, Josh and I went to the island. I did some correspondence and read until Quinn picked me up for coffee at a little cafe' down the road. We had a great talk in the cool, afternoon sunshine.

We returned to the island and then at 4:00 we returned to Hein's home and I rested in preparation for tonight's talk and tomorrow's 5 hour presentation.

After a dinner of barbecue beef ribs, butternut squash soup, and salad, I drove to the island and delivered the "I am All In" talk to the campers. I called them to commit their whole lives to Christ Jesus.

4 July - Awake at 4:30. At 7:30, we went to the island and I made final preparations for my afternoon presentation for fifty people from 1:00 to 5:00. I delivered the presentation of sports chaplain training including the McCown Sport in Ministry map and Transforming Lives in Sport high points. Bruce Nadin (sport chaplain from the UK), Johnny (former South African professional footballer), Benny (distance running coach), and others contributed well to the discussion. We wrapped the evening up with a dinner for the IMPACT host families during a driving rainstorm.

We drove back to Hein's house and we watched the end of the France vs. Germany World Cup match, then I went to bed around 9:00.

5 July – I was awake before 5:00, up at 6:15 to shower and prepare for the day. At 8:00 Hein, the boys and I drove to meet Elzette for breakfast at Food Lovers Market.

We did some souvenir shopping at a big flea market, then drove to the Strand (beach) to buy soccer and rugby jerseys. We toured Gordon's Bay by car and saw a whale in the turbulent sea. We were then off to the airport. It was easy going through check in and security. I bought gifts for granddaughters Addie and Elise, and my niece, Jennifer Glover. I then waited at gate C12.

The flight was okay to Johannesburg, but the changing gates, security, passport control, more security at the gate, and then two more levels of security inside the gate was annoying. Then we sat on the plane for two hours past our scheduled departure time.

While sitting there, I walked through various scenarios, should I miss my connecting flight to Nashville. I don't like any of them, but it's my best way to manage my frustration with the circumstances. I know what to do and can deal with the worst case scenario. This resulted in a little relaxation of my mind. Once we were 90 minutes late for departure, my window to transfer in DC was gone and I knew I would surely have to rebook. I hope I can at least get a flight to Nashville some time on Sunday. Baseball chapel with the Miners looks unlikely for Sunday.

We finally made our way to the runway and took off exactly two hours late. We arrived in Dakar, letting some passengers off and others on, and then we took off for DC.

6 July - On the flight to DC I slept some and watched some movies in the less than comfortable seat. I took a couple of walks about the cabin to stretch my legs and considered my options regarding rebooking my flight to Nashville and the Miners chapel. We landed at 8:15, about the time my connecting flight was to take off.

The line at USA immigration was very long and they had only 1 agent to check all US citizens. As I made the front of the line, 2 more stations opened. Baggage claim and customs were easy, and I then checked in for my new flight to Nashville. A 4:55 departure with a 5:45 arrival was my only option. No chance for Baseball chapel today.

I glided through security and took the tram to the A gates, then to A4. There is a Five Guys and Fries by our gate and that improves my attitude a good deal.
I sent text messages to the Southern Illinois Miners players on my Proverbs list and explained that I could not get there in time for chapel. I bought and started reading a new book in my Nook – Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

The flight to Nashville was uneventful and upon arrival I gathered my bag and met the parking shuttle for the short drive to the parking lot. I picked up my car, paid for the parking, and made the three hour drive back to Carbondale. I arrived home at 10:00 pm.

In summary, this was a very productive trip for the reasons I will detail below:
·        I was able to serve and support FCA’s IMPACT internship program in South Africa. To encourage Quinn Evans’ efforts in this work is very significant as I believe she will be among FCA’s leaders in International ministry for years or even decades.
·        I had more than a dozen one-on-one conversations with IMPACT interns across the six days I was with them. We discussed a number of issues ranging from ministry in Kazakhstan to life calling, and career paths.
·        I was able to further existing ministry partnerships with SCAS, Kingdom DNA, training4changeS, and other sports ministries in South Africa. They have strong interest in FCA Coaches ministry, especially 3D Coaching.
·        I was able to fan the flame of movement at work in South Africa toward sports chaplaincy training and development.
·        I was able to invest in relationships with people like Hein and Elzette Reyneke, Casper and Ashley Steenkamp, Daniel and Kendra Thomae, and John and Wanyi Yip.

·        I invested a number of books (3D Coaching, Free to Compete, Transforming Lives in Sport) in the ministries of our friends in South Africa.