August 16, 2009

"Time to Learn" by Alan Perez

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul."  Psalm 143:8

On July 4th of this summer, our Sports Team got together to have a meeting about our summer basketball League. This is our 4th year putting the league together which proceeds our 11th annual G.O. Basketball Camp. For the last 3 years I have coached the oldest group of guys (NBA League). We had won 2 championships and a second place medal, however the month prior to the meeting, I had felt God speaking deep in my heart to coach the youngest age group. 

This summer has been one of the most intense for our Sports Ministry continually working with American teams to share Christ with kids through sports. Many of you know that Jackie and I were married in May and this summer was also a time for us to begin setting up our lives together.  Working with the oldest guys in the previous leagues was something easy for me. I teach them the basics of Christ and basketball. I enjoyed working with these guys very much, and they were all good players!!! I knew however, Christ wanted me to start at “ground zero.” That I would need to invest more of my time, more of my energy, and it would also force me to grow in my own faith, searching for ways to explain the ways of Christ to kids. 

Knowing that this may take time away from my wife and the time I spend with her at home, I knew I was called to follow Him where he led, and trust that He would teach me along the way.

To be honest, the first two practices and games were terrible. My team was a mess in their practices; nobody did what I told them and in the games the other teams killed us! In one game we were more than 20 points down. I got to the point of thinking what a stupid decision I made. I had only been married to Jackie for two months and this was taking time away from her, but instead of being upset with me, she was all the time telling me what a great chance God has given me to invest in the lives of kids; to reach them when they most need a role model… She encouraged me to spend more time coaching and hanging out with them than what I was already doing!

We never start a game without prayer first

Pre-game coaching

An intense game!

Alan and his assistant coach celebrating a win!

God began to change my heart by the third week of practice. We began focusing on discipline, to never give up, to have a relationship with Christ, and to enjoy this time with friends that could result in bonds that will last forever. I realized that I needed to be more than a coach to these kids. They needed a friend and a mentor, and I would need to rely on our ultimate friend and mentor- Christ. They needed somebody that could support them and encourage them as they grow up to be men; not better basketball players, but better Christians.  

I am so thankful to God that he spoke to my heart and challenged me in this process. He used those kids to teach me a great lesson in love and responsibility and modeling God’s truth to others. He used my wife to show me the sacrifices we make whether it is time, energy, money to share God with others and she has been a great example to me this summer. Not only was I able to coach kids this summer, but my faith was changed and deepened by those little guys.

The team- back row, left to right: Helmer, Joel, Willy 

Front row, left to right: Kevin, Victor Garcia, Victor Manuel (aka Chicky)

Jackie and I learned so much during this summer, as newlyweds and missionaries and kids of Christ called to share his truth with others.  We are so glad for all the people He has put in our lives. Thanks for your prayers and support and all that you give through us so that we can make a difference in the Dominican Republic. 

By the way, our summer league ended August 15th, and my team won the championship for our Division- Thanks to God!

Celebrating after practice one day because the kids had memorized their Bible verses for the week--- nothing says incentive like Dominos Pizza!!

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