“VOLEJBOLA” CAMP 2017
Editor’s Note: Ministry through sport is an ever-growing field of evangelism that is yielding tremendous fruit in missions, both domestic and international. BBI is pleased to share the efforts of the sister church partnership below in using sports ministry as a tool to share the gospel.
By Carol Schaudt
CORVALLIS, Oregon – From summer camps to the Olympics, sports are an international language spoken by every country. With that in mind a team from Suburban Christian Church in Corvallis, Oregon, partnered with Matthews Church in Riga, Latvia, to put on a youth volleyball camp in Riga. Using the common language of sports, together we were able to share our passion for both volleyball and for Jesus.
In June 2016, the first “Volejbola” Camp was held at the Olympic Sports Center in Riga for 52 campers. And last month, the volleyball camp successfully ended its second year, with 48 campers – about one-third of them attending for the first time.
These camps last for five days and each day opens with breakfast at the Olympic Sports Center. Mealtimes were a great time to sit with smaller groups of kids and really get to know them. Each day the kids participate in morning and afternoon volleyball sessions. We focused on teaching basic volleyball skills and generously mixed in fun camp games. It has been fun and exciting to see the kids improve their skills as the week progressed. Coach Brian Schaudt explains how every moment in the schedule is crucial for relationship building:
“Our volleyball camp goes from 9-5, with the order being breakfast, training session, break, lunch, activity, afternoon session. We arrived at the Olympic Center and immediately started rekindling friendships with past campers from last year. It was pretty awesome getting to see how some of them have changed physically, mentally and emotionally from one year ago. …Personally, the free time on the court before our morning and afternoon sessions is my favorite time of the camp. Most of the campers tend to be very shy when you approach them at breakfast or lunch and it’s amazing to see how their guard comes down when you put a volleyball in their hand and give them a gym to run around in. I’ve developed more relationships with campers during this time then during all other parts of the camp combined!”
Training sessions include skill development, games and relay races, drills, 6 v 6 games, and a fun, massive volleyball game at the end of the day. Between sessions we put together small group time, special presentations, and coaches from both the American and Latvian teams have time to share their testimonies.
Camp week concludes with at graduation ceremony where each camper received a diploma signed by all the coaches, a DVD with athlete testimonies (provided by Athletes in Action) and the Gospel of Luke in Latvian.
We are now busy planning for “Volejbola” Camp 2018. We look forward to continuing this partnership and to expanding the outreach possibilities of this and future camps. Please be praying for the planning committee, coaches and campers as we move forward.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6