This is my (Barney) second blog about Chennai Challenge and I am writing it because this week I experienced something really I would guess amazing and something that I think really can be applied to the Chennai Challenge experience.
I play national league basketball for Shropshire Warriors U18’s and this Wednesday (6/7/11) we played a friendly against a team from an NBC Camp from America. They were a group of guys from the Pacific Northwest of America (ie, Washington, Idaho & Oregon) who had been to a training camp and then were given the opportunity by NBC to travel to England and tour the country playing against numerous teams (Liverpool, Manchester, Shropshire, etc…). They were a very good group of basketball players and fought very hard in the game where they were quite physically over matched by our tall team, but in the end my Warriors team won the game 76-50. This was a great result for us and it showed how our team is beginning to gel for next season.
Although, this is not the important but about this game why I decided to blog about it. The reason I am blogging about it because these kids were not only representing America when they came to play basketball, but they were representing God aswell. At halftime in the game, they sat all us players down with the supporters and spoke a little bit about who they were, how they came to playing basketball and thanking us & NBC for their English road trip. But the thing that surprise me was also how evangelistic these lads were because during every one of their little speeches they all thanked God for the opportunity, for their talent and for supporting them through their sporting journey. I thought this was really amazing because if somebody asked me to speak about my journey in sport etc, I don’t know if thanking God would be one of my first thoughts. I know it should be because God is amazing with the gifts and talents he gives all of us, but I don’t know if I’d have the guts like they did to stand there and thank God talking to a room of mostly non-Christians.
So that was one thing, their speeches where they thanked God. I was thinking okay, that was nice of them to thank everyone involved in bringing them to England, including God. But then they said that they were going to sing some worship songs to us. I thought this was really cool, and although the singing was not good (these are athletes not performers!) they looked like they really enjoyed evangelising through song and I think a lot of the supporters maybe didn’t understand why they were singing but they definitely respected them for it. The songs they sang were ‘Our God is an Awesome God’ and ‘This is the Day That the Lord has Made’. I thought this was really good and they obviously really enjoyed evangelising and it was a really enjoyable experience having them talk to everyone.
Also, these players evangelised in the way they played the game. They never gave up for a loose ball. They always worked at 100%. None of them were arrogant and they all respected their opposition and the referees. In relation to our other games this season, this game was probably played in the nicest spirits because neither team was trying to get under the other teams skin and aggravate them. This may have been because it was just a friendly or I think it was because of the respect that these American lads showed us and showed the referees. This respect I think must come from their strong Christian principles that they live by both through their everyday life and their basketball.
The reason why this applies to the Chennai Challenge experience is because these boys came out to a different country to do a job, but came with a heart for evangelism. To be on the Chennai Challenge team you do not have to be a Christian, but the charity is run by mostly Christians and one of the Challenges is to understand the Christian perspective to giving and poverty. Also while we are there we work with two Christian organisations, Oasis India and Madras YMCA, so the work we do is often in Christian-run schools and churches. This means that while we are there we need to have a heart for evangelism like the NBC Camp team did. We need to be willing to go out and show the talents that God has given us and thank him for them. For me, the experience with seeing the American kids evangelising about their upbringing and how God has helped them should be exactly what we do while in Chennai. The kids love us being there and love that we run programmes for them, but we should always remember that we have been given the opportunity by both Chennai Challenge and by God. And if you go out with a heart for evangelism and helping those in need then your experience will be enriched by the fact that you know you are doing God’s work. For me this year it is about really stepping out and stepping up as a leader to new team members because I did this all before last year. Instead of being led I want to lead and I thank God that he has given me a chance to visit Chennai again. It’s all about going out with a purpose.
Here is the website for the organisation that organised for the team to come to England:- http://www.nbccamps.com/
Here is the website for my basketball team, Shropshire Warriors:- http://www.warriorsbasketball.co.uk/
If you want to take a look at the Warriors website, there is a photo gallery and match report from this weeks game currently on the homepage.
Thanks for reading, I hope my tenuous link between basketball and Chennai made sense. 😉