Our Story

Our Story

The ministry of Sports Friends began in 2002 when God brought together two leaders with different, yet complementary, skills and experiences. Brian Davidson had been a pioneer in the development of sports ministry in the US for 21 years. Traveling to more than 30 countries, he realized that many sports ministry initiatives, though well-intended, failed to leave the local church with the tools and resources to continue outreach into their communities. Tripp Johnston, a successful investment banking executive, had been sensing God’s leading to leave the business world and work full-time in Christian ministry. He saw many opportunities to integrate proven marketplace principles into training, developing, and multiplying effective leaders.

God gave Tripp and Brian an exciting vision: thousands of young people, their families, and their communities coming to faith in Jesus and being discipled in their faith through the powerful platform of sports. They approached SIM to explore the possibility of partnering together to develop effective church-centered sports ministry in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. SIM was thrilled! The ministry vision fit well with their focus on the church and a growing desire to impact youth around the world.

The two families moved to Ethiopia in 2002, and Sports Friends was launched. Today, their initial vision is becoming a reality as thousands of churches and church planters around the world are being equipped by Sports Friends to use sports as a tool for making disciples of Jesus Christ.

When Tripp and Brian first moved to Ethiopia, they were joined by Berhanu Kebede, who ultimately took over leadership of Sports Friends’ ministry in Ethiopia and the broader region. Read Tripp’s book, Soul Brothers, for an inspiring account of God’s work in Tripp’s and Berhanu’s lives, including the initial launch and early growth of Sports Friends.



Sports Friends begins in Ethiopia


Sports Friends begins in Nigeria


Sports Friends begins in Thailand


Sports Friends expands in Southeast Asia


Sports Friends begins in Kenya


Sports Friends begins in Malawi


Sports Friends begins in Zambia, Ghana, Peru, South Asia


Sports Friends begins in Senegal, further expands in Southeast Asia


Sports Friends begins in Niger


Sports Friends begins in Tanzania, moves out of Zambia


Sports Friends expands within West Africa, moves out of South Asia


Sports Friends begins in USA


Sports Friends begins in UK, Ecuador, Horn of Africa


Sports Friends begins in Canada