basketball in mission

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When I was in Bible college I was a member of the basketball team. I remember the music director informing me and a few other students that basketball isn’t ministry; drama and music is. Yea. I didn’t agree with him then, either. Sure, his ministry teams touched hundreds of lives in churches all over the United States. I admired them then as I do now, remembering their impact. I just didn’t appreciate the false dichotomy based on condescending assumptions.

The basketball team played against other Christian schools, to be sure. But we also played non-Christian schools, notably Reed College in Portland, Oregon, one of the most anti-Christian campuses in America then and now. Love that school and its students. I really do. Brilliant, seeking, weird and aware of it (unlike many Bible college students), and willing to play games against a tiny Bible college from Eugene. Over four years my teammates and I developed collegial friendships with the opposing players. No, we didn’t preach to them. But we did show kindness, respect, and Christ’s love, even at times when some of the Reed students on the sidelines behaved deplorably toward us and Christ.

This is the sort of background that informs my deployment of basketball in my neighborhood among the Muslim and Buddhist population. They won’t come to church to watch us sing or act in dramas, but they will do life with us through the common language of basketball, as well as other activities which are not overtly religious.

Open your heart and mind in your context. What opportunities has God set before you?

Oh, in case you are wondering, I am the one shooting the ball in the photo. Yes, the shot went in. :)

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