Our Newest Neighbors in Canada

Aug 31, 2022 | Sports Friends Canada

Today we chat with the Sports Friends Canada team! They live and work in a setting resembling home for many of our readers, so let’s lean in and learn what it’s like to see the Sports Friends model working in our own local churches. Outreach began in summer 2021, with several summer camps that welcomed young people out of lockdown and into new relationships.


What has been the best part so far? How have you been seeing God answer prayer and direct steps?

This is so dear to us. We have always wanted to see churches understand that this is a week-to-week ministry, not just a summer camp. The ministry of taking care of people and presenting the gospel in practical ways on the field is something we do every single week. Two of the five churches who ran the first camps this summer proceeded to develop a Saturday morning soccer club for the players from camp.

The youth who showed up to camp this past summer came from a number of different national and faith backgrounds. It was such an interesting mix of people groups. Immediately after summer camps, eight players came to the churches who’d offered the camps. Praise God! We are praying this expands.

We also love seeing the collaboration between SIM Canada and Sports Friends. We have always desired having true teamwork with a single goal of mobilizing churches, not worried about “stepping on each other’s ministry”. We each play a distinct and integrated role. It has been like a dream come true!

How can we be specifically praying for you during these early years?

Pray that God will light a fire in the hearts of the players, their families, and the Church. Pray for well-established churches with strong youth programs to get engaged. Pray for God to form a Sports Friends Canada team of full-time or short-term workers to come. Pray for courage and vision for churches who are trusting for trained coaches in their ranks to begin church-centered sports ministry there. Pray for active coaches to make room in their hearts for players who come week after week. 

We have young people coming from several of the top five religious groups in the world. We have speakers of multiple languages. This is a remarkable opportunity, but it also signifies a complex setting, and spiritual opposition is real. One specific people group we deeply love and desire to build relationships with is highly sensitive to Christian evangelization. They warn their children about it. We will love them and spend time with them on and off the field; we want to earn their trust and communicate a true love, but we know that it’s not our organizational skill or personal ability that will draw them to Christ. It is the Spirit of God. Pray for an outpouring of His Spirit on these people. Pray for the outpouring of the Spirit on our team and the churches we work with.

Tell us more about the developed-world population you’re working with. What are some of the struggles?

Some of the young people were born here within a cultural group, while others arrived more recently. They’re all looking for acceptance. There are issues around gangs, high levels of drug addiction and drug trade. Inside homes there is domestic violence, stress, and high pressure to succeed in school. The young people are seeking friendship, but since the demand is so strong in many families to remain distinctly adherent to their culture, it is difficult. 

Also, many churches struggle to engage with the different people groups around them. Young people are coming out of the pandemic and have been cooped up without social support in a high-stress home environment. By embracing youth of diverse cultures and creating a safe and fun space to gather, we’ve been able to provide something very helpful to them. 

A challenge so far for the churches and coaches was that our first summer camps were largely run by ministers in a summer internship role. Those young adults went back to school or work, so all of those first-time coaches disappeared. It will take time to develop a sense of commitment and put down roots in churches, then help subsequent churches develop strong and sustainable ministries from the start. 

Many of our readers are developed-world inhabitants. How does the work you are doing right here in Canadian cities inspire and challenge us?

Our churches need to recognize God’s call and that the mission field has come to them. They’re surrounded by nations. We must be less inward-focused in our faith communities, and look for opportunities to engage those outside of our walls.  Acts 17:26-27 says that God set the boundaries of the nations and moved people around so that by some means they may find the knowledge of the truth. Even while some of our newest neighbors are people displaced because of injustice and evil in the world, God has used that to bring them into position to hear the good news of His rescue. Otherwise they’d still be in countries where it is very difficult for them to ever hear the gospel. 

We’re so excited for this pioneering work of Sports Friends in Canada. May God continue to raise up His people and spread the gospel in Canadian, US, and European cities where ministry is already underway. May His church flourish to be a refuge, home, and blessing to many more.