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Pushed Into Sports Ministry

Not long after arriving in Taiwan for our first term I discovered I had High blood sugar problems. Our doctor urged me to change my diet and start exercising to keep my body healthy. So I started to cycle. Through cycling, I realized how immensely beautiful Taiwan was and that was only the beginning. The exercise really helped me to feel better physically, kept my blood sugar at bay, and I also realized what a powerful tool sports could be in ministry.

As time went by I started to use sports more intentionally to reach out to others. On bike rides I had the opportunity to sow into their lives. This could happen by sharing bible stories on the go or praying for someone as we would take a break after climbing one of the many hills surrounding our home. Other times it would be a run through the countryside sweating together and sharing life stories. I came to realise that any form of sporting activity gave me a very natural platform to share my faith with people I was getting to know. Conversations about life, about God and faith came easily.

During our first term I mostly cycled. This term I’ve needed to adapt as most men I have met have been more into running, and I’ve come to enjoy this too. During the last year I have been studying Mandarin and was very encouraged a few months back when I was out for a run and was able to share my first bible story in Mandarin. I shared the story of the prodigal son which opened up a good conversation about what kind of God we are worshiping. My friend has referred back to the story a few times during subsequent conversations saying something like ‘aah, yes…like in the story that you shared’.

It is often hard to reach men in our ministry context, to get to spend time with them and have more meaningful and deeper discussions about life and faith. Sport has become a great platform. For some it’s easy to open up and share around a steaming cup of coffee or a cold green tea from a local drink shop but for others it is easier when running side by side around a lake or cycling through Taiwanese countryside.

After returning for our second term I have wanted to learn more about how to use sport creatively. As a team, we are hoping to be intentionally engaged with the community our little church plant is situated in. One of our latest ideas about using sport in ministry came from our team leader who began aerobic classes for ministering to the ladies in our community. During our first week we had about 20 ladies come along and two of them came along to our bible study the following Wednesday. The possibilities are endless.

My prayer is that we can use sport in this context in conjunction with other more conventional outreach to bring people together, build friendships and give people the opportunity to hear the gospel and experience the love of God. My hope is that sport can play a significant part in reaching out and transforming this community as well as others for the glory of God.

Markus Laurinkari

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