Sports Ministry may become more popular among Chinese Christians as the first World Chinese Christian Basketball Tournament is going to be held this summer in Hong Kong.
Chinese Christian youth basketball teams from churches and fellowships in the United States, Canada, Taiwan, Philippines, Macau and Hong Kong will gather on July 7-15 for the historical event organized by the Chinese Christian Herald Crusades (CCHC) and Sports Ministry Coalition.
"The aim of this tournament is to provide an opportunity for the world’s Chinese Christians to have basketball competition together. Most importantly, it allows them to exchange ideas about doing sports ministry and shares their experiences in different countries," CCHC Los Angeles Assistant Director Danny Wu said.
Apart from the basketball competition, another highlighted program during the week-long event will be short-term mission trip. A drug rehab center Christian Zheng Sheng Association is to be one of the target groups in Hong Kong that the youths will serve this time. The youngsters will meet with some ex-offenders or drug addicts, who are trying their best to rebuild their lives again.
"Through playing basketball with them, we build up friendship and show them the love of God. We give testimony about the change in our lives as well," said Wu.
"We would like to tell them that everyone can make mistake, just like playing basketball game, you will be given punishment when you break rules or you will even be asked to quit if your offence is too serious," he continued. "Even though we sin, but God always gives us chance to repent and change."
Wu believes that "changed life changes lives" is everything about sports ministry. Sports can be used as a very effective media to reach out to some kinds of people who live in a different world, for example, the ones whose lifestyle are very different from the church and the offenders who have dropped out from the society, commented Wu.
When Christian basketball teams play games, they are trained to be disciplined, they wear very neat uniforms and they pray before a game starts, according to Wu. When non-believers look at how the Christian teams play basketball, naturally they will see that there is something different inside Christians.
Wu, originally from Hong Kong, is very experienced in sports ministry- an aspect that has not been emphasized very much among Chinese churches. The international basketball tournament this time could be a very good opportunity for Chinese Christians to realize the importance of this ministry.
Wu served in sport ministry at a Christian recreation service Suan Dong Camp in Hong Kong before he migrated to the U.S. In the past five years, he has been leading the sports ministry while working with the CCHC Los Angeles.
"Sports ministry is a long-term work, unlike the one-time evangelistic gathering that may convert many all at once, because it takes time for friendship to be nurtured and lives to grow. We use our lives to touch lives," Wu explained.
Wu warned of the negative effect that may be resulted when trying to bring people forcefully to attend churches.
"Sometimes, we guide them to pray. We will bring out some questions concerning our lives when we talk, then we will tell them how the Bible teaches us on those things," Wu said. "Another very effective model is for older youngsters to lead children. The ‘big brother’ image gives children a role model to follow and they can be easily guided to the church or fellowship."
When asked about the practical difficulties in promoting sports ministry among Chinese churches, Wu suggested that Chinese churches must emphasize more on it and they must breakthrough the misconception that sports ministry is nothing more than "playing around."
The relationship between sports and Christian faith, according to Wu, is that sports may allow people to find out the gifts God has given to them. Moreover, when people will develop their ability in full extent when playing sports, just as they walk on the path of faith, they focus on the goal and grow.
"I hope this basketball tournament will be a chance for people from different countries to share their experience in sports ministry and exchange ideas, so that we can find out the effective way of evangelism," Wu expressed his expectation.
Ambassador for Christ in Canada (AFC- Canada), Basketball Sports Ministry, Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong Recreation & Sports Department and Herald Monthly are the other co-organizers for the event. The tournament has drawn attention of the world’s Chinese evangelicals; both Chinese Coordination Center of World Evangelism (CCCOWE) Hong Kong headquarters and USA regional office are invited as the advisors.
For registration of the basketball tournament, please visit the website.