February 27, 2012
Greetings ya’ll in the name of Jesus!
Our winter has been very active, fun and productive. Apart from our house church on Sundays and mentoring groups during the week most of our time this time of year is taken up with basketball. This year we are working with eighteen boys ages 9-13 on two teams which participate in the Minneapolis Park and Recreation League. We’re very proud of this association. Christ’s Children has been participating in this league along with local parks for twenty years. For twenty years on Saturdays, Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursdays in the winter we have had our youth involved with healthy and active recreation and competition with their peers from all over the city. It’s such great fun and a wonderful experience of community!
It’s had a great impact on our youth and families. Being on a sports team is probably one of the earliest and most positive experiences of community that many children in the city experience. The respect and pride which come with being associated with a park sports team is really remarkable to behold. I chuckle to myself whenever I overhear one of my boys explaining to someone else what team they play for… “Christ’s Children? Which park is that? It’s your church? Oh…” Over the years we’ve run the gamut of experiences in terms of team success. Some years we’re at the bottom of the heap, losing many games; but other years we’re at the top, defeating all comers and winning championships. Usually we’re somewhere in the middle, but every year on our team kids have fun, cultivate a positive peer group, learn how to improve their skills, and receive mentoring from Coach/Pastor Chris. Most importantly to us they are exposed to the gospel through our practice time devotionals and opportunities to attend church or go to camp with us.
The experience of community goes beyond teammates and coaches. We have our supportive entourage of parents and church members that come to games and cheer for the children. One mother, who played on one of our teams herself when she was ten, commented last week “I love being a basketball mom!” One of my most memorable moments this season was when one of our parishioners came to a game to support the team, a white woman who has a shy and reticent personality. One of our teenagers saw her at the game when he was warming up and came across the gym to give her a hug. The expression of bonding and caring in Christ crossing cultural and social boundaries in that gesture exemplified our mission of Christian community.
There is a young man whose help coaching has been an integral part of this ministry. He first showed up at practices about fifteen years ago to watch his brother play. He had just finished high school then. He kept coming every week and years later as I got to know him I began involving him in the coaching. He progressed from helper to assistant coach to running practices and taking over coaching responsibilities for one of our teams. He regularly helps out at camps and retreats as a counselor. A husband and father now, he is growing in his Christian faith having consistent exposure to the gospel through his involvement with us.
It’s a busy time of year, but we are grateful for the opportunity to serve Christ here in this way.
We invite you to participate in this ministry through your prayers and support. The Lord bless!
-Chris and Lisa