“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” (John 1:14 – The Message)
“Do you like me, Tyler?” Suddenly Tyler felt something tremble and shift in his chest because, for the first time in a while, he saw a 13-year-old boy instead of a disobedient kid whose problems I needed to fix. At that moment Tyler saw an ocean of fear and someone’s crushing desire to be loved. He saw an uncertain kid who was lost and lonely—a boy without a dad—trying desperately to navigate the tumult of his teenage years with nothing but a chip on his shoulder and a hardness in his heart. But mostly Tyler heard the question that our souls were made to ask. “Do you like me?” It is that question that Tyler Bodlak and the other local ministry staff members are seeking to answer with a resounding yes!
Just over six months have passed since Tyler and his roommate, Tommy, moved into the Lynchburg neighborhood commonly known as Greenfield. Here they are in the minority, just as Jesus was in the minority when He came to earth as a sinless man in the midst of a sinful world. It takes time to gain trust and many hours are spent just “hanging out” and getting to know the people. Nevertheless, Sports Outreach’s local ministry continues to grow and we continue to disciple boys and girls from difficult backgrounds and environments. Through sports—such as basketball, chess and soccer—after-school tutoring sessions, and casual conversations, lives are being impacted. Jarrett Ulmer, a relative newcomer to the local ministry staff puts it this way, “We realize that this season of ministry may look a lot like ‘just hanging out’ . . . in this season we are blessed with the opportunity to build deeper relationships and to ‘plow the field.’”
Ministry in the neighborhood may look like hanging out at the moment, but elsewhere the local ministry is entering its busiest season. Summer soccer camps are gearing up, interns are preparing to come for training in sports ministry, and the Second Annual Ballin’ for the Burg soccer tournament is set to take place May 21, 2016, at Lynchburg College. It is still not too late to apply for a summer internship, register a tournament team, or sign up for a soccer camp, and any of these can be done through our website at www.sportsoutreach.net.
It has always been the mission of Sports Outreach to “identify and train committed Christian leadership in the effective use of sports ministry, the spreading of the Gospel message and alleviating human suffering.” This mission applies not only in Africa or Latin America, but also in the United States, and especially in our own backyard! Please use the enclosed envelope if you wish to make a financial gift in support of our local ministry or to give to the overall ministry efforts of Sports Outreach.
Rodney Suddith, President