TODAY -

Play The Gospel Sports

Dr. Thamsing Lamkang *



Joao Leite - Brazilian Football Goalkeeper
Joao Leite - Brazilian Football Goalkeeper



In this fast changing world we can't deny that sports serve the best platform, because nothing contributes like sports can do to humanity. Some people may not easily agree to my opinion, but as a matter of fact 'it is and it does'. The statistic shows that more than eighty percent of the world population plays one sport or the other in their life-time. And not to forget the spiritual harvest sports ministry have contributed towards the church mission, to reach the unreach people for Christ.

Moreover, young people involved more in sports than in any other generation or decades. Well, Sports has become a 'Global Youth Culture' that has brought many holistic changes in churches and communities. So, it's very important to understand the basic values of sports to benefits much more in future. We must create an opportunity for the youngsters to unearth their hidden talents through sports.

It is important to understand the motivation behind why people participate in sports activities? People play sports for multiple reasons. It has been said that eight out of ten people play sports to have a healthy self-image. Some simply play for the love of competition. Many play to find a purpose in life.

Others play to release stress, lose weight or improve their general health. And many also play to make friends and enjoy social recreation and entertainment (mostly practiced in Northeast India). All of these represent healthy, positive attitudes toward sports.

If people play sports for these positive reasons, there is positive return. Conversely, if people play for negative motivations, then there is negative return from sports.

The negative aspects of sports come directly from the hearts of the people who play. One such example would be those people who are motivated to hurt or to impose power over others, thus damaging themselves, their opponents, the spectators and the sport itself. The converse is true too, the positive aspect of sports stem out of the heart and motivation of the people.

Even if a sportsperson is playing sports to gain a healthy self-image, often times he feels he must win or beat the opponents to feel good about him self. If his opponent is more skilled then what can he do to win? This 'Positive' aspect of sports can quickly turn into a 'Negative' one. In fact, most negative aspect in sports comes from unhealthy self-images.

For when a person's identity is tied up in winning, he will do whatever it takes to protect his identity and win. Winning at all costs has stemmed from the need to have a positive self-image. Cheating, lying, making excuses, unnecessary rough play, blaming officials, violence, eating disorders, and drug enhancements are all means he may take to ensure a win.

A sportsperson who is a believer should know exactly where his self-image comes from. His identity is found only in Christ Jesus alone. He can compete with the complete freedom knowing that his identity is not based on his performance. The Latin word 'competere' of the word 'compete' means to 'come together to agree. Thus 'competition', in the best sense, is two opponents coming together to agree for the purpose of bringing the best out of each other, not the worst.

The true believer can play his best with the intent to win while viewing his opponents as a challenge to improve his ability and skills. He does not view his opponents as the enemy, but as his neighbors Matt. 22: 39 who can bring out his best in all areas; physically through skills and fitness level; socially through his relationships with the teammates, opponents and coaches; mentally through strategy and plays, spiritually through motivation and actions; and emotionally through self-control.

He does not have to compete to defeat the opponents in order to feel good about himself; instead, he competes because of who he is. Thus, as believers in the world of sport, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our identity in Christ to people who are searching for healthy identity. 'Sport is a strategic place and role of the Christian competitor as an agent of redemption in sports!'

Most football players will remember JOAO LEITE, he was one of the founders of "Athletes of Christ" in football own country Brazil. He became famous for wearing a small slogan on his jumper whenever he plays. This inscription is 'Jesus Saves'. Soon, the journalist asked Joao the reason for this, because at that time he was the best goal-keeper in Brazil. Joao made the most of that moment to explain what Jesus had done in his life. Many began to say it was illegal to wear any religious slogans. The Federation Cup officials had the meeting to decide that Joao shouldn't wear anything on his playing jumper.

On the first day of the prohibition, the journalist asked Joao 'what do you think about the fact you can't wear the inscription of Jesus Saves? Joao answered; 'They can take Christ off my jumper, but nobody can take Him out of my heart.'

We have been playing sports for very long time but we really didn't know and understand the true value of sports. I am giving more effort on sports not because sports matter much to me, but what sports can do for the people and also the Gospel. I am very much convinced that sports can do much more for the welfare of the society that was impossible at one particular time. Today, sports are more resourceful because it lends much to the gospel.

Many traditional churches or the church leaders are not willing to adopt sport and recreation ministry, while the need of the gospel is very much needed outside the church wall. If the church didn't go outside the church premises than, the church fail to fulfill its purposes. We should always remember that only Good people and believers come to church, but what about the other lost? They will never come unless the church goes out to reach them.

What is your church believing on the gospel mission? Are the churches responsible only for those who came to church regularly? Will the church go out for the sake of one precious soul? Jesus left the 99 sheep's, and went to search the one lost, we must follow the concept of Jesus!

Let me point a pro-soccer team playing for Christ. There are such many teams 'the best team of all time' though but I chose to share about them. There's a remarkable soccer team called Charlotte Eagles, hails from Charlotte in America, and it is like no other. They have so many success stories, in no time they moved up a success ladder, and never out for glory and trophies.

But that's not the most remarkable thing about the Eagles. What is truly astounding is that these Eagles are in business to witness Jesus Christ through their sporting talents. They always played to make Christ known to others, before the plays, during the plays and also after the plays Col. 4: 2-6, wow…to Jesus for the gospel through sports.

MAY GOD BLESS THE GOSPEL HEARTS!

(This article is from the teachings of on-going Church Sports Leadership Training Sep. 6-21, 2011 @ Sports Resource Center, Kevijau, Dimapur)


* Dr. Thamsing Lamkang ('Sports Resource Center', Dimapur) contributes regularly to e-pao.net. The writer can be contacted at thams2000(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk
This article was posted on September 18, 2011.



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