Well, it didn’t take me long to get a shower last night and fall into bed around 10:00 p.m. for a long and deep sleep. Today is filled with unpacking and loads of laundry, catching up on mail, checking in with family and friends, paying bills, and adjustment back at home. I’m just glad it is a holiday week-end before getting back to work on Tuesday.
It is always difficult to wrap things up on this journal. There is so much to share. After reading what these team members have written during the trip I am reminded once again of how blessed I am to lead them and to experience first hand their work and their own spiritual development. They were everything and more than I had anticipated they would it. It truly was a team ordained by and called out by God. They played their hearts out with kids of all ages, along with grown men and women, and they stood with confidence and boldness to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. The more they verbalized their faith the more confident and comfortable they became. Moms, Dads, families, friends, Coaches, and all of Belmont can be proud of how they represented you.
As you read their entries on the journal you can get a glimpse of how God worked in their lives. I observed a gradual spiritual transformation in each of them. That is what I always hope and pray for. They are different now than when they left on May 17th. They have been challenged to “live out” this life-changing experience in their daily walk with Christ - on the basketball court, on campus and in classrooms, in their relationships, in families, and ultimately in their chosen profession as “on-mission” Christians. I could take each team member and write a story about each one and how I watched God open their hearts, fill them up, and overflow into others.
Seeds were sown, kids were loved and hugged, local teams challenged, and hundreds voiced a prayer to receive Christ. There is no way to know the eternal significance of these days, but I am confident God is pleased with our efforts and representation of His Kingdom. Tuesday evening at our open gym and following our sharing time a young woman of 19 years old (Becky) came down from the stands, walked up to me and said, “Thank you for your words and for inviting me to receive Jesus tonight. He is now in my heart and I wanted to tell you.” I talked with her a long time, she shared her dreams for the future, and I prayed with her. She talked with Earl and signed a card for him to follow up. There is story after story of how God gave us divine appointments like this one.
We absolutely loved sharing in ministry with Earl Pinkston. He is one Godly man, ultra gifted, the consummate communicator, lots of fun, a great story teller, and quite the historian of Malta. We learned so much from him. He impacted all our lives. I believe he enjoyed hanging out with all these athletes. And, he is pretty good on the basketball court - he loved slipping in when he got a chance and playing with our team. We’re grateful to Earl and wife, Robin, Colleen and Mike, Cam, the volunteers with Ministries of Malta, and so many others for giving us their best for two weeks. Doors were opened for them at schools that had been previously closed. They have been invited to return for future projects and events.
My special thanks to Debbie for her administrative assistance and partnership in ministry. I honestly could not have done what I was able to do without her attention to all the on-site logistics. Her responsibilities are demanding and Debbie is at her best doing all these “behind the scenes” tasks. And, thanks to Tony for his work behind the lens of the camera and keeping you connected through the journal. I’m confident he is already at work putting together a video which will become a treasure for team members, along with a short version for our donors and for sharing in churches.
Thank you to all the donors, prayer partners, families, friends, and Belmont who partnered with us in this ministry. I am forever grateful.
I thought you’d be interested in the words that the team used in a processing time during the trip to describe their mission experience. With these I will close out this journal…
“Life changing, transformational, indescribable, amazing, spectacular, a perfect 10, adventure, phenomenal, unbelievable, two thumbs up, a real victory, a home run, spiritual, encouraging, meaningful, historical, explosive, dynamic, bonding, a step in the right direction, humbling, growth, truth, God-filled, insightful, a full package, fun, reflective, once in a lifetime experience, HD movie but better, new beginnings, fulfilling, family, love, overflowing, crazy good, a boost, blessed, awesome, seeking, privilege, great, investment, joy, honor, service, personal, challenging, seeking, journey, inspiring, open hearts, Biblically significant, instruments, influence, a calling, a wake-up call.”
Just think, all of this and so much more happened through “a little round ball” - the platform of sports - Sports Evangelism! To God be ALL the Glory!!