Today I’d like to share some thoughts about the value of long-term, relational service with sportspeople. I awoke this morning to a richly rewarding facebook message from a young man in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. We met in 2009 at a Tae Kwon Do club where he was an aspiring TKD competitor in training. I had brought a friend and colleague to San Pedro Sula from Tegucigalpa via bus, complete with stomach distress and death defying roads. My friend is a 5th degree black belt, a member of the Martial Arts Hall of fame, and a tremendous trainer. Our host a the club was very gracious and welcomed us warmly. He kindly received the sport devotional book we gave him and translated a page of it from English to Spanish for his students while we were there.
Among those TKD students was the young man from whom I received the following message. “My dear friend I’m writing you from Honduras. I was a taekwondo athlete. Now I’m a man of god. I’m in a dilemma. How I can take my sport taekwondo with design and path that god is leading me now? I need your advice and wisdom I really appreciate this. Huge hug from Honduras.”
I was thrilled to receive the message and replied with the thoughts below, copying my friend the 5th degree black belt. “Bendiciones, mi hermano. Gracias para tu mensaje maravilloso. (Blessings, my brother. Thank you for your wonderful message.)
- Meditate upon these scriptures: Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:23, I Corinthians 9:24-27.
2. Pray, dedicating Tae Kwon Do to the Lord Jesus. Ask Him to enable you to compete in His name and to His glory.
3) Consider how you may make TKD training an act of worship. Expect to experience the Lord's presence as you train and compete. Expect to experience His pleasure with you as you train and compete.”
We met this young man and spoke maybe twice, several years ago. We left the devotional book. Its use was emphasized by the club’s coach and some of the club’s highest achieving competitors. A couple of years later, I took a number of the books to them in Spanish. We have been facebook friends for a few years now, occasionally sending a message or liking his photos from competitions. He’s on my list for weekly devotions in Spanish and he sees my daily posts of devotional thoughts for sportspeople in Spanish.
Even with these seemingly weak, distant, and infrequent methods of ministry, he has become “a man of God.” It’s like Jesus’ example in the parable. The man sows the seed on the ground and goes to bed. He awakens the next day and the seed has sprouted, all by itself. We sowed the seed of the Gospel years ago and with little personal nurture, it has developed into “a man of God.” Please commit yourself and your ministry to long-term, relational service to the people of sport and trust the Lord’s mighty Spirit to nurture and develop the seeds planted, even years and thousands of miles away.