I traveled to Bronx, NY in 2005 to partner with a church planter to conduct an Upward Basketball Camp in the community. He wanted to use sports to introduce himself to the community and to minister to them. We had a great camp with 90 participants!
One participant, Nana, stood out from all of the rest. She demonstrated defiance and rebellion on the outside, but on the inside, this young girl was crying out for truth and hope. In the middle of the week, I was able to share my story of salvation with Nana. She sat on a bench quietly and intently listened to the story of God’s grace, mercy and hope for the future. You could see God working on her heart and mind. When asked if she wanted to follow Christ, she was shy and said, “I’m afraid to pray out loud. I don’t know how.” So she and I prayed together on that bench in the city park. I prayed aloud, and Nana prayed silently with her eyes closed, lips moving and heart receptive. What Nana said is between her and God, but in my heart, I believe she chose to follow Christ that day.
Four days later, after our sports mission team had returned home, Nana was in the neighborhood where the basketball camp was held. A fight broke out, gunshots were fired and a stray bullet killed Nana.
I’m so thankful I was able to share the story of God’s grace with Nana just days earlier. No one knows the time or place that this life will end, so there is an urgency to extend the reach of the gospel to our neighbors, friends, family, complete strangers, and yes, young children at a basketball camp. God is at work all around us if we open our eyes to see it and take advantage of the divine appointments he has given us.