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Sonny and Annabel serve in the Philippines with Wycliffe Bible Translators
Sonny writes: I was a growing new believer in Jesus Christ in 1975 when an American missionary came to our country and founded a basketball league as part of his mission. As an athlete in my younger years and one who has continued to enjoy sports, I liked the idea and responded by organizing a basketball team in our church to be part of the league. I was amazed by the number of participants from different places and churches. It was clear to me that sports could be a way to reach out, particularly to young people.
I remembered that experience early last year as I faced a big challenge in reaching young people among the Tagbanwa people group. They have been tremendously affected by a fast-growing tourism industry. The influx of tourists has changed the Tagbanwa peoples’ once peaceful lives of hunting and gathering and sharing with one another to lives of greed and dissatisfaction. Even worse, the influence of drugs and other vices has crept in and influenced the young people not to listen to God’s Word.
How could I draw these young people to come and hear the redemptive plan of God?
When I returned to the village, I met with leaders and elders of the church and with young believers in the group. I shared with them a plan to organize a SportsFest to gather the young people in the village to hear God’s Word. Thank God! The elders agreed and gave full support to the plan. They also talked to the Barangay Kapitan, (the officially elected head of the community) about what we were doing.
The young believers went out house-to-house, inviting others to join the Sports-Fest, and the day of our first SportsFest, about twenty young people came. Through the games we played and the telling of Bible stories, the group radiated a kind of noise in the community—so much noise that it was heard by the people from uphill and distant forests! To our surprise, many parents came hurrying down and curiously watched the event.
The next session drew an even bigger group—seventy-six young people! Students from the town who rarely come home now couldn’t wait for the SportsFest weekends. Most important, the once hard-to-gather young people were now listening to God’s Word and starting to understand God’s plan of redemption.
One day, a young man named Abdul stood up and spoke. (For the group, it was a big surprise, because Abdul is known as a very quiet and shy person who will never speak in public.) Abdul announced that he had surrendered his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and had accepted Him as his Savior!
The next session, another young man stood up and asked, “Does anyone who submits to the saving work of Jesus Christ really have eternal life?” That opened the door for others who shared their heart with the group.
Praise the Lord! Twelve young people have indicated that they have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ and accepted Him as their Savior.
We thank you, Wheaton Bible Church, for your faithfulness in praying for us and for the support you sacrificially give for the cause of Christ. To God be all the glory!