The Impact Sports office walls are covered in photos from all over the world–a city skyline of futuristic-looking high rises stretching into the skies of East Asia hangs over a photo of colorful flags strung on a lookout in front of a snowy mountain range. There are several clocks set to different times on the same wall with the names of countries beneath it. In several photos, people are playing basketball, baseball, football, soccer, softball, or frisbee.
Standing in the middle of that small Spartanburg office observing that gallery, I am transported to the 21 countries and 30 different men’s and women’s prisons where Impact Sport’s mission is to “use sports as a vehicle to take the Gospel to places it’s never been, is not allowed, or the delivery of it has previously been ineffective.”
Amidst a beautiful juxtaposition of cultures and scenery, there is the universal language: sports. Impact Sports can reach some of the most unreached people groups by establishing relationships on the court and off the court. Because these places are some of the most challenging areas to share the Gospel, Impact Sports focuses on those relationships and planting seeds with every team that goes overseas or to the local prisons.
“I went on my first mission trip with Impact Sports three years ago. I was nervous about going on my first mission trip and especially nervous about going to a prison. But, once we started playing ball the nervousness went away. Going on the mission trips has helped me be more confident when sharing my faith in Jesus. I have made a lot of great relationships with other people while serving God on these trips. One awesome testimony from our trip was a guy that had been totally forgotten by his friends and family, he heard our voices coming through the gate and was so excited to see us again. On a previous Impact Sports mission trip, he had given his life to Jesus and he now teaches Bible classes to inmates in prison. If anyone wants to go on a mission trip they should check into Impact Sports trips to prison. One reason is that the expense of mission trips can be costly but going on the prison trips are very affordable and are mostly on weekends so there is not much time involved.” – Michael Grubbs, member of Church at The Mill
“In 2016 I went on a mission trip to East Asia with Church at The Mill through Impact Sports. Going into the trip, I was expectant of what God was going to do. Before we (the team) even left, we spent time preparing and praying over the people we would come in contact with. From the moment we stepped on the plane God was moving and teaching even more than I had expected. I had never been surrounded by so many people who were lost and looking for hope. The harvest was plentiful and every day the Lord presented new opportunities to share the gospel as we played basketball or prayer walked through the parks. Throughout the trip, I learned ways to share my faith and turn ordinary conversations into a Gospel-centered discussion. What I learned didn’t end when I got home. Through Impact Sports, God built a desire in my heart to be on mission wherever I am, to have Gospel-focused conversations, and be thankful for the hope that I have in Christ.” Victoria Hall (20) Member of Church at The Mill
While COVID has impeded Impact Sports from carrying on with their normal international and prison outreach for 2020, they’ve been able to use this time to establish projects in the Upstate that have been on their hearts for a while such as a recruiting seminar for high schoolers.
Church at the Mill hosts a trip with Impact Sports to East Asia. There’s a place for everyone on the trips, even if you have no background in sports. If you are interested in being involved in the future contact Jason Williamson, Church at The Mill Missions Pastor, at email@example.com.
If you’d like to be involved with Impact Sports prison ministry or any other volunteer positions, you can fill out a form on their website: https://www.impactsportsonline.org/volunteer
“The only way Peter was able to walk on water was because he got out of the boat. And no one in the boat thought it was a good idea for Peter to get out of the boat. But he still did it.” – Impact Sports Founder and Director