Sports Friends is a ministry of Serving In Mission. The vision is to see a global movement of local church-centred sports ministries transforming lives and strengthening communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sports Friends has been present in Ghana for seven years. Currently, there are two full-time national staff, plus two volunteers facilitating the training and ongoing support of 283 coaches who train young people in football, volleyball and netball.
As national director, Ben trains coaches and seeks to reach out to young people in this region, Here, he shares some of the unique challenges of sports ministry in Ghana.
What are three of the biggest struggles for youth in Ghana?
Alcoholism, teenage pregnancies and poor parenting. Some parents don’t even care if their children have eaten or not; others are single parents. Their children go to school through primary, and that is it, they stop going. Sometimes our students abandon school to get daily bread by doing menial jobs, etc.
What are some of the particular challenges for your coaches?
One of the challenges for the coaches is the commitment and support of the church to the ministry. For example, they need a new ball and the church cannot afford one, so the ministry is not able to function with only minimal support of the church. Also, the coaches are volunteers, and some of them are not able to commit to the team and also go to work to provide daily bread for their family. In these cases, we advise the coaches to work during the week, and do sports ministry on the weekend.
What are some of the barriers to the growth of the ministry in Ghana?
I think in most cases it is the issue of the number of new coaches that need to be trained. Also the availability, commitment, and support of the local church. The coaches are volunteering, and sometimes they feel alone and get discouraged. There is also a need for skills training, job training for the coaches so they can get better local jobs and have more time to spend with the kids.
What are specific ways you see God answering your prayers in Ghana?
The blessings are seeing youth and families excited about the ministry, seeing their lives changed. We are seeing young people giving their lives to Christ and seeing churches being planted; we’ve had four churches planted.
Parents are stating they see their children changed, their attitude and character changed. Lives are being transformed.
That the young people who experience the love of Christ through this ministry will come to know him and grow in their faith.
Pray for new coaches to be raised up.
Pray for God’s wisdom and grace for Ben as he shares the vision with high-level national officials.
By Kerry Allan