Like most my fellow students on my Sports Discipleship Training School with YWAM Newcastle, I felt called by God to do a DTS because of my combined love for Him, sports and missions. Honestly, I never thought or dreamed that I would travel 10,000 miles across the globe to embark on the crazy, exciting, wonderful, Holy Spirit filled adventure, but that is exactly where He wanted me for the first six months of 2017. And I am so thankful for it! During my DTS, I tried to incorporate the famous Nike slogan “Just Do It” into my life. I want to give you three reasons why, if you love God, enjoy playing sports and want to experience an awesome culture, you should do a Sports DTS!
1. You learn to LOVE your coach: the Lord God.
If you have played on a team or enjoyed a sport in which you had your own individual coach, chances are there have been some coaches that you just didn’t like. This can happen for multiple reasons; it may be their attitude towards you and the team, perhaps you felt like you could never muster up enough wins for him or her during a season, or maybe you felt like your coach didn’t really care about how you were doing, physically, emotionally and mentally. Well, during the Sports DTS, I discovered that my coach is the deeply loving, always caring, ever restful, good Lord God!
Let me be real here, God gives His whole heart to you. When He says He loves you, there are no strings attached. You can never earn His love, you can never work for His love, you never need to be the best athlete or the strongest or fastest player. You don’t need to give more, do better or work harder, He just loves you! We do not have to earn the love by the perfect coach because He Himself is love and He gives it freely. All we have to do is receive it!
When I finally learned that He, God Himself, is here with me every step of every day (and believed it), my love and desire for Him grew. Just like He says in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. I discovered that when we fully acknowledge that God is for us, we become unstoppable with the confidence and love we have from God. During the first few weeks of my Sports DTS, I learned that He is the good Father and coach that many people have longed for all their lives. The moment you also come to realize you are a perfect son/daughter of God, and completely say ‘yes’ to His love and will, He will guide you, teach you and love you the way that a true coach should.
God is the best coach any athlete can ever ask for!
2. You see people encounter God’s love whilst playing sport.
Every Thursday night the Sports DTS students would head over to a local oval and play different sports with the lads there. We usually played an Aussie favourite sport, rugby. Coming from New Hampshire, USA, I had never played rugby in my life, so I didn’t know any rules of that wonderful sport. I quickly learned however and was able to play; I’m still not good at it, but I have a new love for the sport. As I and the other students played, we would simply invite God to work through our time at the oval, and that’s when we saw God do His thing!
What I mean is that we were simply being ourselves, choosing to love, walk in good sportsmanship and have fun. A good attitude shines brightly on the sports field, and the kids got a glimpse of God’s light each time we chose not to conform to the world’s way of playing rugby, or any sport for that matter! There were moments when I knew they were intrigued by the way we didn’t get mad at each other or cuss while playing. They were exposed to God’s love through the good sportsmanship and love that we shared.
One Thursday night, I was walking around the oval, praying for the night and inviting the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of those we would meet. As I walked, one of the guys came up to me and asked if I had a cigarette. He couldn’t have been more than 13 years old. I kindly replied that I didn’t smoke, which surprised him and he asked why not. In the split-second before I replied, I reminded myself not to offend, so I decided to bring rugby into the conversation. I explained why I didn’t think it was the healthiest thing an athlete should do, how God had created our bodies to be taken care of and that we only have this one body to do His work on earth. The kid was stunned, speechless and just stared at me. He shared that no one had ever explained why they didn’t smoke in such a kind, simple, thought-provoking way. We continued our conversation and I told him about my relationship with God, sharing that he is also deeply loved by God and that God created Him with an amazing plan for his life. He didn’t seem to know what to say, so he just smiled and gave me a high five before running off to play rugby again.
Even though he didn’t respond much, it was a chance for this boy to hear about God and His perfect love. Hopefully, one day God will take a hold of his heart and he’ll remember what the Holy Spirit was speaking through me. I was just an instrument in God’s hands that Thursday night at the oval and I am thankful that I crossed paths with him that night.
3. It’s wicked fun and would probably be the best time of your life.
Okay, okay, most people say that about a lot of things in life right? Like, awe man you have to try (blank) or if you do (blank) it will be the best thing ever. Well, please hear me out; Sports DTS truly is a game changer and will impact your life, in the best way possible. You get to meet so many amazing people, who are from all around the world, who love God as much as you do, who want to have an amazing adventure and are so willing to go all out in everything they do.
The friends you meet during DTS are really friends for the rest of your life because you just shared a wild six months together (especially your outreach team, who become your family). The staff is there for you, truly there. They care, love and want the students to grow in their relationship with God; desiring for the students to experience the love of God in such a way that it radically transforms their life. I love the location and everything it has to offer: different beaches for surfing, ovals for rugby, cricket, football and so much. Also the coffee scene in Newcastle, Australia is so on point, but that’s a different topic just wanted to throw it out there.
All I can say is if you absolutely love God, sports, missions and adventures, pray about doing the Sports DTS! I’m telling you that you will not regret your decision and God will transform your life!
Sports DTS Alum