|I (Shane) was in SE Asia about a week ago for the Sports Friends Global Gathering. Nineteen countries were represented – we love the diversity of the Sports Friends family!|
Throughout the week, encouraging stories were shared about God’s work in each of the countries. Many of the stories were interwoven with hardship. During the conference, one of our country leaders found out that two of his close friends and a number of other people had been kidnapped by a militant group. He found out later in the week that his friends had been killed. Another prayer request was for a group of 20 Christians in a village that were facing persecution for their faith. 11 of the 20 Christians had their homes burned down and were kicked out of their village. Warnings were given to the remaining Christians to either reject Christ or their homes, too, would be destroyed.
One of our leaders in Nigeria, John Kato, died on the way to the Global Gathering from a respiratory issue. We were anticipating his arrival, but then we received word that he had died en route. The news was shocking for the Sports Friends team – John had served with Sports Friends for thirteen years. He radiated joy like no other! It was a sad time of grieving together as a team, but also a time of drawing strength and hope from the Lord together.
I left the conference truly renewed and encouraged by the work going on across the globe through Sports Friends. I also left challenged by the suffering that many colleagues are facing in their regions.
When I arrived back in the States, we received positive news about several key pieces that needed to be in place prior to our move. We are now full steam ahead and plan on leaving for SE Asia in July.