Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Freedom to Fail

Sometimes I get caught in the trap of thinking that God’s love and His perfect plan is only perfect when I am perfect. I read His Word and I see TRUE love demonstrated as I hear John 3:16 repeated once again,  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Yet do I truly believe it or am I a faker? Do I believe that God loves me, JUST because he loves me? Or do I believe what I do not voice; that God loves me when… I stand boldly for him, I am a leader in the church, or I perform some self-sacrificing act?

In Posers, Fakers, & Wannabes, Brennan Manning says, “Here’s the thing: It’s no trick to feel loved by God with our lives together and our support systems in place. Self-acceptance comes easy when we feel strong.” So what happens when I miss the game-winning shot, or despite hours studying, I get a low mark on a test, or I haven’t made time for God for a whole week? That is when I feel like ignoring Him even more because I don’t want to get near enough and see disappointment in His eyes.

If only I could just remember his Word (maybe I should nail his reminders to my wall or tack them to my bathroom mirror). Like in Romans 5, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” or 2 Corinthians 12, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

God has been teaching me not to run from Him when I fail, but to lay my failures at His feet and let Him refresh me. How can He ever get the glory for what He is doing with my life when I always try to take the credit, whether good or bad? Never-the-less, I praise God that He chose me - while I was still a sinner! He knows my heart and that I am not always thinking of others first or weeping over the lost. Yet in the middle of it all, He chose to use me for his glory, right where I am. This realization has helped me to relate to the families and youth we are working with, and even my own family. He is teaching me how to extend the same grace to others that He has lavished on me. He has called me to run to Him for strength and restoration when I fall. Most of all, He desires me to give him the glory when I succeed (or even when I fail), because it is all part of His perfect plan. 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Amelia is a girl that lives on the outskirts of Lima. As is common in Peru, her parents are separated, so she lives with her mom and brothers. Between her siblings, there are three fathers in the picture and her mom now has a new boyfriend. Two brothers are older and are not around much, and she has a baby brother that she helps take care of in the mornings while her mom is working. 

Since her father left the home when she was 11, she has resented him and struggled with depression. When he came to visit for her twelfth birthday, she let him know that, since she felt she was unwanted by him, she did not want him in her life either. Two years passed without a visit and the walls of self-defense continued to grow.

The first time she was spotted by the neighborhood SF coach was about four months ago. She watched with interest as other girls her age begin to arrive for a summer Bible program. Since the coach lives in the neighborhood, she could see that most of the time, Amelia could be found hanging around on the street.  A few weeks later when the coach began the first neighborhood SF volleyball practice, once again she noticed Amelia watching.  She approached her and asked if she liked volleyball. Of course her answer was ‘yes,’ - she had only been waiting for an invitation to join them. Though she had no previous experience, she was happy to be accepted by the group and begun regularly attending practice. 

After getting to know her coach and some of the other girls, Amelia started to smile a little bit more. Also, once she began receiving love, learning about Jesus, and being mentored by her coach, she started sharing some of her hurts, disappointments, and the walls she had built up. When she learned that God is her Heavenly Father who has always wanted her, she was filled with joy and decided to pray to receive Christ as her Savior. She immediately began to experience the peace of His presence. Since then, besides a new countenance, there have been many changes in Amelia. She started attending the local church and desperately wants to learn more about Jesus. As a result, she not only attends the youth activities, but also all of the adult Bible studies.

Last month, Amelia turned 14, and her transition to a new high school in the afternoons has been difficult. Along with the burden she carried of a broken relationship with her dad, she started to experience a common temptation of the teen years: to seek love and acceptance in relationships with boys. When she shared this, her coach began to challenge her to put her faith into action both in her relationships with her dad and at school. God through Jesus’ love in Amelia, has restored her relationship with her dad and continues to work in her life. Her mentor has noticed that after her decision to follow Christ, she has a new enthusiasm at practice, church and in life. She knows she must cling to Christ and walk in His grace. She also knows she will always find support in her SF coach and new church family.

written by: Mende Kitzman & Andrea Obregon

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Photo Ops - Family Time

Family Time

Preparing to leave Peru for our trip to the U.S.

Bubba (Levi) and Silas

Oscar's Move

Oscar's Move

Many of you may remember Oscar. He is the guy that was working with Dave when we first started the sports ministry in Lima. Dave spent many hours training, discipling, supervising and working with Oscar. The "plan" was that Oscar would take over and lead the ministry that Dave had started. 
Well, Dave was very discouraged to learn that after over a year of training Oscar to lead the team in Condevilla, Oscar and his family decided to move. They would be moving about 4 hours south of Lima, to the town of Ica. Despite our disappointment, we began to pray for Oscar and Condevilla. Well, you may also remember how God answered a part of our prayer, in that Flavio and Manuel will be leading the ministry in Condevilla.
The other part of that, is that while we were thinking of what a waste the time spent with Oscar had been for expanding the ministry, God had better plans to multiply the ministry and to reach new areas. Oscar returned to Lima to participate in the Sports Friends Basic Training and went back to his new community, and partnered with his new church in order to begin to use sports to minister to a new set of youth within his new community.
Please pray with us for Oscar, Tonya, Oliver and Owen in their new city, home and ministry. Pray also that the young people of Ica will see Christ's love though their ministry and come to a saving knowledge of Him.

May 2013- New Sports Friends Teams in Action

Newly trained life coaches with their groups

JeanPierre teaching at Cancha Mauta in San Martin de Porres

Flavio teaching at Cancha La "Q" in Condevilla

April 2013

Second follow-up with San Martin de Porres group

Manuel (second from the left) will be working with Flavio in Condevilla. They will be working mainly with 11-15 year olds. He talked with the group about their excitement to lead the group and also the struggle to balance life and ministry. Please pray that Flavio and Manuel will work well together to lead the youth in their neighborhood. Please pray for their relationships with the boys in the neighborhood; that they can gain trust in order to be able to share the truth about a Savior who loves them, died for them and desires a relationship with and abundant and eternal life for their futures.

Friday, September 20, 2013

March - Follow up to training

In February, we had the newly trained life coaches write out an action plan for the sports ministry that they would be starting in their communities. In March, Dave began meeting with the leaders to check-in on where they each were at and to offer support.

We quickly realized how challenging it would be to organize the meetings. Each of these young individuals is working, studying, ministering in their community, as well as faithfully attending and serving in their respective churches. It would prove difficult for each of them to come from many different directions and to fight the evening traffic from across town to meet at Dave's office.  We also soon realized that there was a broad spectrum of how far along they had come with their start-up ministries.

We finally decided to meet in the evenings, after work, school, etc. in small groups and closer to the areas of town where they live. See the photo below of the first meeting with the newly trained life coaches from San Martin de Porres.
Jean Pierre, José Miguel, Yocelin & Dave

José is in his early 30's, married with a young child and is a full time youth worker at his church. Apart from working with the youth, he is involved in many other ministries in the church please pray for him to be able to manage his time well. He loves the Lord and is so excited about using Sports Friends' strategies and ministry in his church. 

Jose is discipling Jean Pierre and using his love for sport to reach out to the kids in the community where they are working. Jean Pierre is about 20 years old and is a relatively new believer. Jean Pierre was saved by friendships build through a group of young Christian men playing soccer at the church he now serves in. 

Yocelin has been involved in the church for quite a while and is excited to see the potential of sports ministry and using volleyball to reach out to the troubled girls in her community.

This group has been faithful in planning and was the first to come to the follow-up meetings after the basic training. José has been very intentional and asked for help in planning for the coming years to help develop the ministry partnering with his church.
Please pray for these new ministries, and leaders within the community of San Martin de Porres, that God would use them as a catalyst to share His love and hope with the youth in their corner of the world.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

March - Bonding & A Birthday

March was a great time for the brothers to spend time together and bond. We found out that Silas loves all percussion instruments, especially Levi's drum set and even uses his fingers to tap out "music" on any nearby table. It has been our great joy to witness the love the boys have for each other and even the "softer" side of Levi coming out as he cares for his little brother.

This year for Levi's birthday, some friends got together to go camping and surfing down south at Cerro Azul. They had an amazing time together in fellowship and fun...doing flips off the pier, eating food from the street carts and enjoying the ocean...Happy 16th!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

March - Flavio's Story

In March had weekly meetings to follow up with the leaders that were trained in February. 
We also shared Flavio's story with many people as we told about the effectiveness of using sports as a tool to share Christ. Flavio was one the Peruvian leaders trained last month. See his story below.

My name is Flavio Vilca Uzátegui and sports have always been a very important part of my identity. Throughout my life, I have participated in many competitive sports including: soccer, swimming, and baseball and even played on the Peruvian select baseball team for 4 years. At this point in my life, I play futsol for my university, UPC (Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Applicadas). Yet the biggest impact sports have had in my life is the way God used them to bring my family to the feet of Jesus.
I grew up in a family with both of my parents and 4 brothers and sisters. We had problems in our family just like many families deal with, but over time, slowly the problems got worse. What began with financial problems, ended with my dad beginning to drink a lot as an escape from reality. My parents’ marriage was a mess and after witnessing many fights between them, even the kids knew our family was headed for destruction. 
When I was 12 years old, on a day that was as typical as any other, my oldest brother Mariano went to the field to practice baseball with his team. When he got there, he met up with some Americans and they ended up playing baseball together and having a good time. Before the foreigners left, they told my brother about a youth camp focused on sports and invited him to attend. He decided to go, but when he returned he was a completely changed person. 
The camp had used sports as a starting point in order to share the powerful message of the saving grace of Jesus. From that day on, my brother’s life and attitude was turned upside down. Instead of seeing the usual aggressiveness and rebellion, we as a family saw him act with love and to begin to respond to aggression calmly. 
His life and testimony greatly impacted us all. When he came home, my brother invited us each to attend his new church, and each of us, one by one repented at the foot of the cross. Now I can testify that God has not only saved, but has also restored my family.
I believe that team sports are a very useful tool to reach young people. All cultures enjoy sports and they help to form friendships, which can then be used as evangelism and discipleship opportunities. In this way, opening a door to reach the family and entire communities for Jesus.
My friend Manuel and I were both recently trained at Sports Friends’ first Basic Training in Lima, Peru. We are excited to begin using sports ministry in partnership with Living Hope Evangelical Free Church in our local community of Condevilla. 
We will be continuing the ministry that Dave Kitzman, the Sports Friend Peru Director began as the first pilot Sports Friends ministry in Peru. We want to start off by spending time at the community soccer court getting to know the youth that were involved in the past, as well as inviting new people who are interested in joining. Looking to the future, we plan to form a team in which there will be certain conditions that the parents and youth must agree to in order to join. For instance, during each training session, we will have a short time for biblical teaching that the team will be required to be a part of. We will also plan for monthly evangelism and outreach events. 
Yet our first goal after building relationships is to lead people to Jesus’ feet at the foot of the cross. Our desire is that not only will they repent and accept new life in Him, but also that each person would begin to live a life glorifying to God and this will cause the church to grow.

February 14-17 - Sports Friends 1st Basic Training in Lima

Sports Friends' 1st Basic training in Lima was a success! We praise God for the 28 young leaders that attended. 
That means 28 new leaders were trained to be life coaches and mentors, which multiplies our ability to reach the youth of Lima.

Thanks to all who helped out, including trainers from the Charlotte Eagles and from the SIM-Sports Friends International office.

New skills were learned in the classroom...

and also on the field.