Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Highways, Hedges and Basketball Courts

But Go ye into the highways and hedges and basketball courts and compel them to come! Actually the Bible encourages us in Luke 14:23 “to go into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.”  Moreover, Acts 1:8 goes further to say that “ you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Hence our witness for God should go beyond the church walls, and extend further than church conferences to include our communities while doing various activities. So for the past 2 years, once a month, every 4th Friday Night at 8:30pm, Excel Church hosts an event we call Friday Night Hoops at a local gymnasium in Bowie, Maryland. 

We started this ministry as an initiative for the youth of the church but it soon blossomed into an outreach to young men from around the city between the ages of 13 and 25 who for the most part- do not attend church.  Half way between our full court games, we stop playing basketball, and ask everyone to join us in a semi-circle and take a knee as we lead them in prayer and share an encouraging message from the Word of God.  Afterwards, we resume all basketball activities.  We also encourage these young men and provide godly advice on variety of subjects throughout the evening in- between games.
The participation has grown to a point that we no longer advertise.  It’s just word of mouth that they come to expect it every 4th Friday night.  I can definitely notice a change in the young men that attend.  I love this ministry because it allows us to reach a segment of individuals that never attend church.  It has grown substantially since we first began and I expect God to continue to do great things. 

As a former high school and college basketball player, basketball remains a great passion of mine.  And I consider it a blessing to be able to use the game to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. So as we endeavor to be witnesses for Jesus, let us remember to use our interests and the things we enjoy doing to go into the highways, hedges, and even basketball courts and beyond (depending on your passions) to  reach souls for Christ.