In this issue of SAConnects (magazine), we highlight sports ministry in The Salvation Army. For many years, the Army has offered sports programs in its ministries around the world.
Some well–known sports stars, such as Julius (Dr. J.) Erving, started as children in Army sports programs.
In the Army, sports ministry can come in the form of a community center gym recreation program. In the winter, some locations host basketball or volleyball leagues. In warmer weather, others will offer a softball team or youth football team. In the past decade, the advent of the Army’s Ray & Joan Kroc Corps and Community Centers has led to indoor soccer leagues, swimming lessons, rock climbing, spin classes, and fitness classes.
One thing people often wonder is how these programs fulfill the Army’s mission to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human need in His name without discrimination.” They may ask, “Where is the crossover taking place?” The Apostle Paul wrote, “for physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).
Sports ministries provide an entry point into the lives of many people who need to hear the good news of the Gospel. Such intervention takes effort. It involves developing relationships. As we teach a child to do the “crossover dribble” in basketball to surpass a defender, may we also help them cross over spiritual barriers to hear the message of life and hope in Christ.
— Colonel Steven Howard
Secretary for Personnel