Thursday, March 21, 2013

Home from Ghana, Off to Chad

Jake, Justice, and JJ, along with the rest of the team, returned from Ghana earlier this week on late Tuesday afternoon. I encountered more than one set of tear-filled eyes as some of the team members recounted stories to me as we waited in the baggage claim. I’m hoping that some - or all - of the team will be writing up their trip highlights for me so we can all get more of a glimpse into what they experienced. For now I’m letting them catch their breath, sort through their pictures, and allowing their hearts to work through emotions and thoughts. Can’t wait to hear from them!

As I write this Jake is actually flying back to Africa, this time to the country of Chad.
Last year, Jake got connected with Athletes in Action (AIA) and was able to attend their ‘World Coaching Academy’ in Dayton, Ohio. The academy brought in AIA staff from all over the world for a few days of biblical and basketball coaching training. That trip opened the door into Jake being offered this opportunity to go to Chad on behalf of Athletes in Action. AIA was looking for someone who had experience in Africa, who could lead a coach’s academy for their ministry that they hope to grow in Chad. This is a sort of exploratory trip for AIA as they’ve never sent a staff member to Chad before. Of course, Jake’s ears tend to perk up when he hears that word exploratory! He’s always been a man of adventure who finds joy and excitement in paving the way in unknown territory!

In fact it was 4 years and one month ago that Jake boarded his first ever flight to Ghana, Africa. That first sending out was God’s answer to Jake’s plea of longing to be shown that there was more. The daily hum drum of living the Christian life seemed boring to Jake compared to all the other things he had encountered in his life…namely his exhilarating basketball career. He was at a crossroads, and cried out to God, asking Him if there was more to following Him than going through the motions of reading his Bible and trying to apply the truths. God answered by launching us into an adoption, and in the midst, opening up Jake’s eyes (and mine) to a hurting world. A hurting world dependent on and longing for the Christ-follower’s obedience to bring God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. From there we could not imagine the ministry that God had planned. I see this trip to Chad as a continuation of God’s answer to show Jake the high of choosing to follow Him.

AIA does have one in-country staff member in Chad (his name is Marc), so he will be hosting Jake. The purpose of this trip is that Jake will be leading a 4-day coach’s clinic in which he will basically be training the basketball coaches in the country. He will be teaching them drills, walking them through player and team development, and then each evening they will have a discussion table over the various things taught that day. Jake and Marc’s hope is not only that doors would be opened to develop basketball, but that these coaches would open their hearts to the greater teaching that Jake and Marc desire to share: That the coaches would know the Lord loves them and longs to have a relationship with them. That the Lord offers not only forgiveness of sin, but a newness of life. That the coaches would understand they can live their lives with a significant purpose and that this would overflow into the way they coach.

Please join with me in praying to that end for these coaches. Pray also that this clinic would be used to glorify the name of the Lord in the country of Chad. And pray for the Lord’s blessing and favor that as Marc and Jake step out in faith, that they will experience a deep intimacy with the Lord that will overflow into the lives of those they interact with.

Lastly, I did hear from Jake in the middle of the night and en route to Chad his plane had to make an emergency landing on a small island called St. Jean because someone on the plane had a heart attack. The travel stumbling blocks continue! Oh the stories Jake will have to tell after this month….I’m sure it will make for some good blog posts. Please also pray with me for Jake’s protection, that he would not become weary, that his body would hold up through all this travel, that even these travel woes would have meaning and bring opportunities for Jake to share his faith, and that God would push him through to Chad in His perfect timing.

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