“Going to basketball practice today#feeling excited…”
This was a tweet from one of the kids on our basketball team. It was nice to see the boys getting excited about basketball starting up again. It takes so much work and effort to put our teams together. To be honest, when basketball season begins I inwardly groan because it automatically means a lot of time spent in the car for me. I spend so much time driving and picking up kids, usually in rush hour traffic. And in the winter I often find myself in the middle of a snowstorm driving down narrow streets which may or may not have been plowed. And no matter how often I tell them to be ready at a certain time it seems I’m always waiting in the car for someone.
But ironically, these are my most intensive times with the kids, while I’m in the car with them. I hear them tell each other stories about the day. I see how they interact with each other. Somehow I’m inconspicuous as an adult when I’m driving them places. We have lots of fun and laughs and many heart to heart conversations about life. This year the boys are always talking about their “girlfriends” and who likes who. It’s a great opportunity for me to chime in with my thoughts about girls and relationships. I know that if I’m prayed up, it is time that may have eternal significance. I’ve witnessed to many young people while picking them up or dropping them off home.
Our teams are designed to allow kids to play and have fun and experience playing on a sports team. Typically I start with a group of fifth graders and track with them each year through the eighth grade. This year I have seventh and eighth graders so these kids have been with us already for three or four years. Although once in a while we may have a really good team or a few outstanding players, the kids we get are not kids who typically go on to competitive high school sports. They are boys who need something positive and fun to do in their spare time. It’s hard to imagine, but an innocent activity like going to the park to play basketball can be fraught with danger and risk. Just last night while leaving the gym the air rang with gunshots nearby and soon police squad cars were patrolling the streets with their spotlights on.
It really is a critical time during which they mature from little boys to teenaged young men, experiencing the advent of puberty and all the physical, emotional and social changes attendant. Through our teams we create positive community with supportive peers and adults. It’s a crucial alternative to hanging out on the streets. Game days are times for the whole family to come out to support the team. Being involved in basketball gives our youth easy access to relationship with me, Lisa and other positive adults. Our players have opportunities to go to camp and are exposed to the gospel in a variety of ways.
It’s about so much more than basketball. To me, it’s a season of pouring myself out in a variety of intensive ways in order to be there in that moment when they are open and ready to hear about Christ and to receive Him. So, I’m going to basketball practice today… and I’m feeling very excited. Thank you for your support of this ministry through your prayers and gifts.