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Impact of COVID on my Sports Ministry

In Japan, on any given Sunday with good waves, there are more surfers in the water than believers in church buildings. The “Mekka“ of snowboarding in Asia has been in Hokkaido for over a decade now. And mountain biking is the new gold mine for the industry seeing the immense growth potential here. After the Olympics where Japanese skate riders collected almost all the medals, skateboarding has become mainstream and a boom is happening right now.

Just before the pandemic changed all our lives, I had the privilege to gather a handful of Japanese believers who are all involved in different action sports. We met at a youth campsite close to the Pacific ocean for the first Action Sports Ministry Conference Japan. Our goal was to network and validate each other’s callings, and also to dream together how we could use action sports, and especially the Olympics, to reach out.

But then COVID hit and travel restrictions turned all our plans upside down. However, God used this conference in a totally different way.

Skate Ministry Japan
At the conference a bunch of Christian Skateboarders met there for the first time and “Skate Ministry Japan“ was born.

We couldn’t do the big outreaches we dreamed of and we couldn’t meet as frequent as hoped, but as we all got used to making the most out of online meetings it became clear that connecting virtually was key to moving forward.

In addition to the regular Skate Ministry leaders online meetings, I saw the need for training these folk in movement-focused discipleship training (aimed at creating disciples who will start a movement of making other disciples who will make other disciples).
And four key leaders agreed to start a training cohort together.

We journey together in weekly online training over two semesters. The first semester finished last December. Here are two testimonies of what God is doing through the newly born Skate Ministry Japan and the discipleship training cohort.

K: “At the last local skate outreach of the year, I shared how God’s love changed my life. I told the folk who came how for the first time in my life I didn’t just know about God’s love, but I’d experienced it in a deep and meaningful way through the love of the members of our weekly online movement training cohort. I was just rambling about this amazing love of God we can receive through Jesus and how this small group is a place where I can be vulnerable and feel accepted but not condemned. And how it’s a group where the others keep on reminding me of who I am in Christ and of God’s love—that this had deeply changed my heart. The best is that six of the people who heard my little message made a decision to follow Jesus that day.“
M: “I shared a lot of what I learned in the cohort with my pastor and he’s encouraged to see how I got really passionate to use my skill in skating to reach out to young men in our city. My pastor agreed to have a once-a-month BBQ party at church, just to build relationships and community and as a place I can bring the “kids“ from the skate park I got to know. This month four of them came and we went to the onsen afterwards and they all want to know more about Jesus.”

By JP, an OMF missionary

#OMFJapan #PrayforJapan #Christianskaters

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