Last month I spent about 10 days in the Philippines on a missions trip. I brought 9 guys from the high school basketball team that I coach along with 2 dads. We played 17 games in 8 days and worked with a local ministry and local pastors to share the gospel and make contacts for the pastors and their churches.
Filipino’s are crazy about basketball. I grew up in Indiana and played high school and college ball here and Indiana certainly has a great passion for the game. But Filipino’s take it to a whole different level. In a lot of ways, it is a religion. We played in neighborhoods made up of run-down houses and shanty’s, but they still had a paved basketball court and organized basketball leagues.
There was some pre-event promotion done so that people knew were were coming, but it was fascinating how so many people would show up to watch us play. We were Americans who came to play their local teams and they were genuinely excited and curious to watch. At halftime of every game, we would take the mike and introduce ourselves and have an individual share their testimony. The local pastor would then share the gospel in their native tongue. We’d then pass out gospel tracts to the crowds and thank them for coming as the second half started.
This was my second trip to the Philippines with Buhay Sports and my former college teammate Daniel Bucher. And the major lesson I’m left with after this visit is how the crowds eagerly show up and listen to us share the Gospel, just because of who we are.
We were a basketball team from America, our record last year didn’t matter, our family background didn’t matter, our future basketball prospects didn’t matter, over 3,500 people showed up to watch us play basketball and heard the good news of Jesus Christ all because we were basketball players from America. The real lesson I’m challenged with is, are people I come into contact with in my normal routine attracted to the gospel of Jesus Christ because of who I am? Or put another way, will the unsaved be willing to listen to the Gospel because of who I am?
There are two sides to this coin. First, I need to be sharing the Gospel, missions trips present opportunities that are often more conducive to this than everyday life but that does not preclude being intentional about the conversations and relationships I have. On the flip side though, my character needs to attract people to Christ. Who I am should ‘earn the right to be heard’.
And that’s the truth I was reminded of half-way across the world. My life needs to attract people so I can point them to the Main Attraction, Jesus Christ.