Cricket coaching at Gateway Ministry!
12/05/2016 @ 1:58pm
Nigel James, from City Temple church in Cardiff, reports on a recent mission trip to long-term missions partners Gateway Ministries in Rajahmundry, India.
My friend Mark Frost, an ex-professional cricketer and currently Cricket Development Officer for Glamorgan County Cricket Club, and I cemented our friendship whilst visiting India in 1990 on a trip with the International Ambassadors cricket team from Christians in Sport. I've been back plenty of times over the last 10 years or so, but for Mark this was his first time back in India for over 25 years. Our aim was to train 16 young men from Gateway Ministries to be competent cricket coaches, and to use cricket as a means of sharing their faith in Jesus with others.
Mark Frost takes up the story:
"We spent 3 days going through a course teaching how to prepare, run and deliver good coaching sessions-all on a pretty rough school yard in the city of Rajahmundry. Each day we also gathered the coaches together to unpack the good news of Jesus, to talk simply about a theology of sport, and equipped them with gospel material in their native language that they could use for themselves and as a resource for others.Then on the fourth day we took the new coaches with us to the Gateway School out in a rural village. Our coaches split into 4 groups and each group taught warm-ups, skills, and games. In total they worked with 80 children that afternoon, with the rest of the school and the teachers looking on and giving encouragement"
Gateway Ministries connects with over 70 rural churches, and many of these churches find reaching out to the male population of their villages quite a challenge. With cricket being so popular in India, we were determined to see cricket coaching for children, inter-village or inter-church matches be used to build relationships and thus establish a platform to share the love of Jesus. The children at Gateway School often play cricket, but with no real structure or coaching, so it was good to see 2 teachers and 5 older boys from the school as some of our prospective coaches.
One of the key verses we shared with the coaches was 1 Peter 4.10:
'Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.'
Pastor Prasad, who heads up Gateway Ministries was thrilled with the programme: 'I'm so very pleased and encouraged by this coaching course! It is amazing to see the young men benefitting. Most people in our poor villages like cricket but never have the opportunity to learn how to play properly. These coaches will be a real community help, and a boost to our village outreach."
Mark Frost again reflects:
'The skill levels and the passion of the young men we worked with exceeded my expectations, and I've been trying to help them translate that to the younger children they will be working with. The fact that we have been sharing our love for Jesus alongside our enthusiasm for cricket has been absolutely vital. I believe that these coaches can also use cricket to share something of their journey following Jesus.'