When FCA staff in East Asia set out to host a basketball camp, they expected big numbers and things to go how they had planned. But planning can only go so far, as ultimately, it’s the Lord’s plans that prevail.
Staff partnered with a local church to put together a camp based on the 100% theme and predicted forty kids would sign up. But challenges hit soon after planning began. The church, who was recruiting the majority of campers, told them they only had ten enrolled. They went to work to recruit more, but with time running down before the scheduled camp date, staff wasn’t sure what would happen.
“We were a little discouraged, but we prayed,” said East Asia leader Joe*. “I determined no matter how many kids, we’ll have the camp.”
The day before camp was to begin, the church came back with the total number: twelve. But one of the two recruits sprained his ankle and numbers kept dwindling.
“This shocked me. What will we do?” Joe wondered. Should they cancel? Rearrange the schedule to accommodate a smaller group? Reschedule? Joe remembered the promise he made to hold camp no matter the number, and he and his staff quickly reset planning and changed the camp to a boys’ leadership camp. With all the participants around 15-years-old and all male staff and volunteers, it seemed perhaps God lined up the people perfectly.
Most of the kids came from Christian families, but two campers had no knowledge of Christ. The week was packed with devotionals in the morning, plenty of practice, teambuilding and training, fellowship nights where they made meals together, and worship in the evening. “We were matching 100% to love and serve the kids,” said Joe. “It was really different, but everyone enjoyed [the week].”
On the last evening, Joe presented the Gospel. Moved by the week’s events and the care and camaraderie of coaches and fellow campers, the two unbeliever boys decided to receive Jesus as Savior.
“One kid who came last year and received Christ went and asked the two kids, ‘Are you sure you received Jesus? Did Coach force you?’” laughed Joe. “And the kids said, ‘No, not from Coach, from our heart.’ He wanted to make sure they are really building a personal relationship.”
Joe encouraged that boy to continue his leadership and disciple his new brothers in Christ. Four other boys recommitted their faith in Jesus, as well. “God used this time to encourage us. Sometimes 40-60 kids come [to camp] and one kid commits to Christ. We had twelve kids, and the only two non-Christians committed to Christ. 100% became Christians at camp--that’s a great ratio!” exclaimed Joe.
Parents also noticed a change in their kids’ behavior and credit it to the care of Joe and staff, living like Christ and loving each camper.
While Joe originally hoped for more campers, God took troubled hearts and set them in the right environment with the right people for those two boys for what they needed to know and experience Him. He reminded Joe to rely solely on God, not his own way of thinking. Like the loaves and fish in Matthew 14, Jesus uses a simple offering to multiply lives in personal ways that draw hearts to Himself.
“God doesn’t care about numbers but the people who prepare their hearts,” said Joe. God’s measured that over and over in His Word, and this camp paved a way for young men to find relationship with Jesus where they may not have had otherwise.
Said Joe, “God really knows how much we can handle. Through Him, we can do many things. We think we didn’t do much, but we saw a lot of God’s grace and were given opportunity and new ways to serve coaches and athletes.”
You can make many plans,
but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.
Ultimately, it’s the Lord’s purposes that bring about His Kingdom. For Joe and the East Asia staff, obedience and being faithful to what was placed before them brought much rejoicing into the Kingdom through lives lived like Christ and the commitment to give 100% through a sports camp. In God’s Kingdom, there is no number too small to make a huge difference.
Please pray for the ministry in East Asia, for more staff to join the ministry and for protection as they serve.
To learn how to get involved in prayer and giving, please visit here. Visit fcaworld.org to learn more about what God is doing through coaches and athletes around the world.
*Name changed for security purposes