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Olympics witness reaches kids on Aussie basketball courts

WINDSOR, Australia (BP)–Boyd Hall doesn’t fit the stereotype of a missionary whacking through the African bush with a Bible in one hand and a machete in the other.

Hall carries a basketball.

An International Mission Board missionary in Capetown, South Africa, Hall is one of the 600-plus volunteers staying at Windsor District Baptist Church’s “Tent City” Olympic village. He came to Australia as part of the South African Sports Federation, a branch of the Texas-based International Sports Federation.

As a former basketball player and sports coach, Hall spends his days doing a different kind of evangelism — sports evangelism among young people.

“Our goal is to teach them good basketball skills and build relationships with them,” Hall said. “We want to get to know them and see what’s going on in their lives. Then at the end of the day, we have a devotional. We’ve been able to present the gospel clearly in several different ways — skits, evangelistic bracelets and other ways.”

Dressed in shorts and tennis shoes, he hardly looks like the stereotypical missionary.

“Keep dribbling!” he calls to his young charges, all dribbling furiously, the slap of basketballs on the floor echoing loudly in the gym. “Time for speed drills — this way! That’s good! Keep it up!”

He runs ahead of them, teaching them different basketball techniques and giving individual help. Basketball nets swish as the kids practice lay-ups.

“You’re doing fine. You don’t have to be a superstar,” he says to one small boy as he squats down on his level. “Just do your best and don’t be intimidated by the others and what you can and can’t do.”

And as Hall sits on the side watching other volunteers help the youngsters run drills, he prays they will one day come to know his Savior.

“This is one thing I’m convinced of — you spend a week with the kids, and they realize you really do care about them. And we care about their walk with the Lord. We want them to know that being a Christian is more than just praying a prayer and saying, ‘OK, I’m saved,’ and that’s it.”

Besides fun on the court, Hall says sports clinics like these are a great way to introduce people — especially young people — to the gospel.

“It’s amazing how you can meet kids who wouldn’t even think about coming to church. They wouldn’t come to a holiday Bible club for anything. But you say, ‘Hey, let’s go play basketball!’ and you get kids who show up — and who show up excited,” he added. “There’s no doubt about it — sports evangelism reaches kids.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo title: R AND R.

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  • Jenny Rogers