Global outreach plan engages Club Sports athletes overseas
January 30, 2018 | Lynchburg, Va.
Challenging Liberty University student-athletes to think globally is part of the mission of Club Sports Ministry Director Brian Davidson, who cast a vision for the more than 700 participants and coaches from Liberty's 41 Club Sports teams to impact the world for Christ through global sports ministry on trips facilitated by LU Serve and LU Send.
"We want the Liberty Club Sports platform to be used for Kingdom purposes because it's an incredibly diverse resource for the Christian body worldwide," said Davidson, who serves as chaplain and spiritual life coach for Club Sports and an adjunct instructor in sport management. "Sport, like music, is universal in its appeal and can help break down barriers and build relationships between people of different nationalities and native languages. That common bond creates natural opportunities for conversations, opening a door to share the Gospel."
A former professional soccer coach and founder of the Charlotte (N.C.) Eagles, Davidson has traveled to over 50 countries over the past 35 years to engage in sports outreach. In 2000, he started Sports Friends, a ministry affiliated with Serving In Mission (SIM) that seeks to transform lives and strengthen communities through local church-centered sports ministries while equipping churches in Africa, Asia, and South America for Christian discipleship.
Davidson sees tremendous potential for Club Sports student-athletes to use their talents in their chosen sports as tools to communicate the message of God's love and Christ's forgiveness.
"We're going to connect athletes to strategic opportunities around the world and help them become imitators of Christ while on mission," Davidson said.
Two of Davidson's four biological children graduated from Liberty before he and his wife, Christine, adopted three sons from Ghana who are now enrolled at Liberty Christian Academy. Last spring, Davidson led 12 Liberty sport management students on an LU Send trip to the same neighborhood in Ghana where his sons were born.
Davidson envisions taking a team of Club Sports student-athletes back to that predominantly Muslim country to plant a Christian church. Currently, he is working with churches, Club Sports coaches, and sports ministries around the world to coordinate as many as five sports-oriented mission trips for the 2018-19 school year.
"We want to help move forward a ministry strategy that's already on the ground, and to be really intentional and strategic," he said.
Davidson and Club Sports Associate Athletic Director and ACHA Division I men's hockey Associated Coach Jeff Boettger are teaming with Operation Mobilization representatives in Finland to plan the details of a Christmas Break trip in the middle of the 2018-19 season. Boettger has led previous hockey team travels to compete in Sweden in 2007, Russia in 2009, Latvia in 2013, and China in 2016.
Boettger has met with members of LU Serve and LU Send to coordinate the outreach and will travel with Davidson to Finland in April to get a better picture of what it will entail.
"We want to try to connect with local churches or mission organizations that Liberty has partnered with in the past and create a synergy and develop a vision of where and who we are going to play and what type of ministry opportunities we will pursue," Boettger said.
Over Christmas break, senior women's Ultimate player Hilary Kline traveled to Thailand to conduct Ultimate workshops for middle and high school students, using donated discs and cones from the Club Sports department. She also joined full-time missionaries based there in weekly Bible studies and jail ministries as well as going into schools to teach English and share the Gospel.
"I am a huge advocate because my first mission trip changed my life," Kline said. "My life afterwards has been a flow of being sensitive to God's calling and going and serving in different countries and different cultures."
|Flames disc golf players Lance Brown (left) and Hunter Thomas traveled to Zambia to help build a course and teach clinics. (Photo submitted by Dustin Leatherman)|
Two summers ago, current and former disc golf team players Hunter Thomas and Lance Brown traveled with Eagles Wings Disc Golf on a Push The Rock trip to Zambia led by Dustin Leatherman to partner with full-time missionaries there, building a nine-hole course and conducting clinics.
Last March, Hannah Croke ('16) joined a 10-member team from the same ministry on a trip to Costa Rica, where they built another nine-hole course and introduced the sport and shared testimonies with more than 400 youth as well as inmates in a local prison. The team also trained the missionaries there to be effective in using disc golf to share Christ.
"Hannah was a tremendous asset to the team," Leatherman said. "She created course signs and took the lead in providing instruction. Her knowledge of the game and ability to connect with the kids went a long way in making our clinics successful."
Other potential trips include sending members of the archery team to China, the rock climbing team to France, the crew team to England, the men's lacrosse team to Uganda, the men's and women's Ultimate teams to Malaysia, and the wrestling team to Russia, as well as an all-sports outreach to Ethiopia, where Sports Friends started, and an all-student initiative to Tokyo during the 2020 Summer Olympics.