As the plane touched down Thursday night in Nashville to end our journey I said a prayer of thanksgiving to God for safe passage of another sports evangelism mission trip. When I crawled into bed I said another prayer of gratitude for my home and the comfort therein. I always recount my many blessings following these yearly trips.
This journey brings to a close my twenty years of leading sports evangelism mission trips. This decision was made prior to departure and I am at perfect peace. I have no regrets. I have given my all. The team overwhelmed me in our last processing session with affirmation and expressions of love that I have never experienced before. That time with them helped me to bring closure. They’ll always be an extra special team to me for many reasons, but those moments will be forever etched in my heart.
I will forever remain in “awe” of God; how He can use a little round ball and fourteen ordinary individuals to draw people unto Himself. We just bounce the balls and they come to play and hear about Jesus! What an awesome concept of evangelism!
I tried to write more this year for the journal and team members have shared their hearts. You get a sense of how God worked during these long and physically demanding days, both in the school and in the parks. It was a different kind of trip with a lot of personal interaction and conversation. Seeds were sown, decisions for Christ were made, and the light of Christ illuminated our work. It was evident that the school - students, administrators, parents - and community were in need of some hope, real hope. We won’t know the spiritual impact of the work until we meet in heaven. Jesus was the focus of the week as kids began to understand His love and how to have a relationship with him. Teachers reinforced our sessions with follow-up and assignments in the classroom - “what did the Americans tell you about Jesus?” They, too, were intrigued and interested in this personal relationship. They recognized us on the streets and came to the parks for more interaction. Parents showed up at the parks for personal time with our team.
Charlie and Shannon will each agree that it was a “moment in time” for their ministry and gave them more recognition and credibility within the school and community. I believe they were pleased with what we did. I know we hated to walk off and leave their family on Wednesday night as we said our “good-byes.”
Our hearts are full and our bodies are exhausted. But, it is a good kind of exhaustion. A part of each team member remains in Naples with all we encountered. We brought a piece of the city, school, and people back with us. It is difficult to write a final entry, because there is so much to share and tell. Please pray for Charlie and Shannon Worthy and their ministry and family. Pray for the seeds that have been sown that they will be produce fruit. Pray for Naples that a revival would break out and the hope that is in Jesus Christ would prevail. It is a city of darkness that needs our prayers!
Thank you for your support of this trip through financial contributions, prayer, and sending of your dear children to serve. You have been vital members of this team sharing God’s love in Naples, Italy. I am forever grateful.