Yesterday I was invited to testify about the work I do in the gospel through sports in front of the students gathered at the seminar organized by the OM Mission (Operation Mobilization). I had a great time and finally, I was asked this question:
How to proceed when you want to do evangelistic work and missions through sport, but neither the pastor nor the church sees the purpose of this work and does not offer you the necessary support?
You need to help both the pastor and the Christians in the church to see the point of the sport and not be discouraged. Tell the pastor and church members about the work you are doing, invite them to visit the group or sports department you lead, and always share your successes in evangelism and discipleship. When they see the success and the great results then they will appreciate the purpose of this work.
It can happen that there are leaders or Christians in the church who do not appreciate sports, or, even worse, some even see in them something sinful. When I entered the New Covenant with the Lord Jesus in 1991 and came to the “Jesus the Savior” Church in Chisinau, there was silence and confusion around us. People were amazed that “karates” came to church and they did not know what was wrong with us. However, there were a few servants who sought to understand and offered their support. These were Pavel Gheorghieș, Vasile Bânzari, Vasile Cociubai and Anatol Marandiuc. Pavel Gheorghieș even came with us to a competition in the Caucasus just to better understand what we do and to give us the spiritual support we needed then. That is why, when we decided to do the first evangelism through sports in the village of Lăpușna, which is my native village, we appealed to these people and they helped us with everything in their power and encouraged us.
In the meantime, however, the first people to criticize us and seek to discourage us from evangelizing through sports appeared. Moreover, when the church chose me to be ordained to the office of deacon, some of the ministers made it a condition for me to leave the sport and they were angry with me for not accepting this condition. I did not argue with anyone, nor did I have endless debates to convince them of the effectiveness of evangelism and discipleship through sport. Even today I don’t spend too much time on debates that may never end. Rather than convincing others that it is good to do evangelism through sports, it is better to go and be a disciple of Christ.
I thank God, who soon led me to meet Mia and Costel Oglice, who are outstanding Bible teachers, and who taught me how to use sports to make disciples of Christ. Since the founding of the Taekwon-Do Club “Stolas Leukas” in 1997, more than 22,000 young people, teenagers and children have studied the Holy Scriptures with us.
In the Church “Bunavestire” that I pastor, we have many athletes who do evangelism and mission through sports, and I am glad to see that the church offers them all the support according to our possibilities.
To have the support of the pastor and the church, talk to them about the effectiveness of the sport in evangelism and discipleship, don’t dwell too much on controversy with those who do not understand and do not want to understand, and do not be discouraged. God help you.
Translated by Ina Croitoru