This summer Hillside RPC (Almonte, Ontario) held its 12th annual Sports Camp and once again the Lord blessed us with a full house and so many opportunities to share His grace and truth!
It started a dozen years ago when a handful of congregational members burdened to bring the gospel to our community felt that our VBS program was attracting mainly local church kids. With a missional heart to go to ‘where the community is’, and making use of our talents to do so, we started our sports camp ministry. Under the guidance of director Babs VanNoppen, we enlisted the talents of adults and young people in our church, along with assistance from SU Sports ministries and other community organizations we organised a week long camp designed specifically to make connections between sports and faith.
Inspired by local son James Naismith (inventor of basketball and presbyterian minister) who believed that sports could create templates to introduce people to the gospel, we minister to kids ages 7-13, from 8-4 daily, rotating their groups between four different sports throughout the day. At noon we break for lunch and devotionals where we share Biblical stories that connect to athletic themes and point them to Jesus. The week long program has seen many kids and families introduced to Jesus with Bibles being sent into many homes and has deepened our relationship with our community. We also have a vibrant LIT program that has given opportunity to our church young people to develop leadership skills and community-youth to hear the gospel. We thank God for Kingdom fruit He has grown through this ministry that has become a mainstay in our community and a great place for us to serve so many even if it leaves us sun-burnt and exhausted by the end of the week. We have discovered that Naismith was right; sports can be a great place to meet people and introduce them to Jesus.
Pastor Matt Dyck, Hillside RPC (Ontario, Canada)