If you’ve heard Pastor Jim, Tyler, or I talk about the vision of Family of God in the last year, you’ve probably heard us talk about our effort to move from a defensive ministry to an offensive ministry. To quote an article Pastor Jim wrote on this subject several months ago, “Defense, for us, is being the Good Samaritan of the neighborhood, rescuing the wounded and those in distress -- The [offensive] challenge is to see what Family of God can do with 9 to 13 year old boys and girls to break these cycles. [It’s] engaging lives before the damage is done and breaking the cycles of poverty and drugs.” Our desire it to show our youth that there is a “fork in their road” and that they have the opportunity to make different choices than many of their family and friends have.
In order to influence our youth we must engage them. Some of the ways we have been able to do this are through Bible study, tutoring, summer field trip and most recently, SPORTS! Since last spring, we had 3 of our youth participate in a flag football league, sent 3 kids to basketball camp, 7 kids to soccer camp, and we are excited to have 7 kids participating in a soccer league this fall. What sets these sports opportunities a part is that they are all gospel centered programs run through an organization called MACC Development on the Eastside of Detroit. Being gospel centered means that all practices and games are opened and closed with prayer, kids are taught to play with honor and sportsmanship, coaches lead and encourage youth in athletics and in their faith, and kids are equipped with a different scripture each week to meditate on and memorize.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to commute our kids to the On Goal soccer camp they attended through MACC. Seeing our kids smile, laugh, make new friends and work hard at something all week long has been one of my favorite experiences in my 2 ½ years at Family of God. While every one of our kids that attended this camp has an enormous amount of adversity in their life, all week long I watched as their joy seemed to melt away the burdens that exist in their lives for just a little while.
One of the most encouraging moments of the week was the last day, Competition Day. Campers competed against each other in many of the different skills that had learned throughout the week. After one of the competitions a boy who’d lost was so disappointed he started crying. Upon seeing this, two of our youth went over to him to comfort him and offer him words of encouragement. All week long the kids had been learning about and memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” After hearing this verse all week, our youth were putting it into practice. This is the gospel on offense.
Please continue to pray for our youth as we pour into them and equip them to break the generational cycles that exist in their lives. If you’re interested in sponsoring our youth to be able to participate in future sports camps and leagues please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-898-2521.