WRIGHTSTOWN, NJ – Min. Brian Nelson, a minister at The Lifehouse Church in Wrightstown, NJ, recently went on a missions trip with Push the Rock, a global ministry that uses sports to impact the world for Jesus. All over the world, they use sports such as basketball camps and clinics as an outreach tool to help churches there get children and families—to witness the Gospel, to share faith. There is a need for evangelism and missions in Spain. It is reported that under 1% of the people in Spain are Christians. Spain was on Push the Rock’s radar for years. They made many attempts in the past to touch the lives of those in Spain but access was denied repeatedly. This year, Push the Rock was finally given the green light to bring their program to Spain and Brian is so grateful and feels incredibly blessed to have been part of that.
“When Brian and his team arrived ready for duty, their first task was to carry this huge cross as a team while running a mile. Four of them would carry the cross while the other four team members ran alongside the ones carrying the cross. Periodically, they switched off and took turns carrying the cross. The first leg of the journey was 1 mile long. After the first lap, the leader read a Scripture and asked us questions to reflect on while we ran. Then we were sent off to run our second lap—mile #2. After running for a second time, they took another break. This time, instead of reading a Scripture, the leader instructed them to think about the things currently interfering with their walk with God. Then they each were given nails and were told to symbolically nail those items to the cross. Once they hammered their nails onto the cross they were instructed to run again. So they took off, running their 3rd and final mile. After completing their 3rd lap they prayed together and shared Holy Communion. Brian explained that they started out as strangers but became brothers and developed an incredibly tight bond during their service in Spain. They developed an unbreakable bond and it began during their 3 mile run together at the start of the trip.
Brian along with his team members spent 10 days serving together. They ran 2 basketball camps – one during the day and one in the evening. The total number of children who attended the camp ranged from 65-85. Brian’s team was able to use basketball and team building as a way to engage children and families with the Gospel of Christ.
Brian and his team stayed at the homes of 3 missionaries who are currently stationed in Spain. Brian’s team would sing together daily and pray together daily. Brian recounts singing to the missionaries and watching them be moved to tears. The missionaries said that it was a blessing to be ministered to in their own language by people from their home-America and to be able to fellowship with believers. It was a blessing to have someone they could ask to pray with and for them in a context where they are accustomed to being the ones praying for others and ministering to the lost. Brian thought that their main ministry was to the children at the camp but while there his team found a tremendous need that the missionaries had to be touched, to be encouraged, and to be recharged.
One of Brian’s most memorable experiences there was a conversation he had with a nephew of one of the missionaries. Brian began conversation with the young man with the assumption that he was a believer. When he asked the young man his testimony, the man replied “I’m an atheist.” Brian continued in conversation with him for another 45 minutes—sharing his faith, asking questions, answering questions and just having good dialogue. At the end of the conversation the gentleman told Brian that he was amazed that they were able to talk without it turning hostile. He was accustomed to Christians being hostile, intolerant and even violent toward him because of his beliefs. Brian was able to share the Gospel and engage him in a way that he had never experienced before. Brian showed compassion, love, listened, answered questions and planted seeds that caused the young man to look at things differently. While Brian’s encounter with this young man didn’t end with a prayer of repentance; he was able to minister God’s love and grace to him in a very real and tangible way.
We may not have the opportunity to travel abroad and share the Gospel, but we are each given opportunities daily to share the love of God with those in our homes and communities. For Brian, what began as a casual conversation with someone he thought was a fellow-Christian ended up becoming something that would change both of their lives forever. Brian was intrigued by the young man’s questions and thought process. He was able to validate his thoughts and feelings all while sharing his own faith with love, sincerity and compassion. What life-changing conversations and encounters might the Lord be calling you to have today? Who may the Lord be calling you to encourage today? Wherever you find yourself, determine in your heart and mind to make an impact for the Kingdom of God wherever you go. Be salt! Be light!
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to allwho are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16, NKJV