By Michael Dena, Global Impact South Africa Participant
I had the privilege of joining 74 interns, coaches and mentors at Global Impact this summer in South Africa. This internship is geared toward college students and designed to engage us to grow in our faith in Christ, serve in sports ministry and capture our heart for the nations.
Coming from Kenya, adapting to the new environment was a bit of a challenge, but ice-breaking and team-building sessions, as well as the warmth and friendliness of fellow interns, really helped us all settle in. There were numerous lessons through the training program, some of which transformed my outlook on how to use sports most effectively to share the Gospel.
PROGRAM AT A GLANCE
We started out with an in-depth analysis of our life before we knew God, what moved us to be transformed in Christ and the impact it has on our lives now. During our interaction with fellow interns, we exchanged ideas on how to effectively run camps and lead sports ministries. One of the most powerful lessons I learned completely changed my views on how to lead Huddles. Rather than limiting our Huddles to solely read Bible verses, we learned to engage more with the athletes in discussion. We also got to appreciate the importance of letting different team members take the lead and share their experiences.
Another effective tactic we learned to keep younger athletes engaged throughout training sessions was encouraging them to share what they learned after we shared The Four with them. We would then give them printed wrist bands and tennis balls featuring "The Four." We noticed that when we used this approach, they remembered and were more eager to share what they learned with their friends and even their parents.
Two of my fellow interns shared personal stories on how they have successfully battled cancer and thrived despite the struggle. Another intern suffered a serious accident that left him incapacitated for an extended period, but he has since recovered and is back in the sports ministry.
As part of the internship program, we visited different churches every weekend. Our very last visit took us to an African church right in the heart of a slum. I could completely relate to the children as their circumstances closely resembled those of the children who attend our camps from the Kipkaren slum in Eldoret, Kenya. From our conversations, it emerged that they are exposed to challenges at an early age. We came up with ideas to fight these influences by engaging and equipping them with God's Word when they attended camp. Through Huddles and discussion time, we would have an opportunity to bring them to Christ and hopefully break the cycle.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLLABORATION
My teammates and I learned cooperation and collaboration on an entirely new level, and I personally experienced God's blessings on some of my prayer requests. Prior to attending the internship, I had launched a personal initiative for supporting needy children in my own ministry by providing sports shoes. By God's grace, I met an intern who runs a program known as Project Love, which seeks to equip those in need by meeting their basic needs and empowering them to reach their God-given purpose. Part of this is collecting and giving shoes to children in Africa who don’t have any. He offered to support the initiative and I now look forward to reaching more needy children and using this as an opportunity to share the Gospel.
After getting my first hard copy of the Bible here, I have now made it a habit to read alone and highlight impactful points, as well as read with my fellow interns and share what we learn.
I came out of this internship completely spiritually transformed, learning the importance of using my spiritual gifts to serve the people around me. While in the past I would rely on pastors to lead Huddles at camp, I am now eager to take the initiative and lead campers in God’s Word. It was an experience I am grateful for and I cannot wait to continue sports ministry at home.