This past spring, I was invited by Ric Escobar, our mission’s Latin America Area Director, to accompany him to Chile. He asked me to come because there are pastors interested in using sports and recreation in their churches to reach the lost in their communities. There were numerous highlights, but for the sake of space, I’d like to share about meeting and looking forward to partnering with Leonel Espinoza.
Leonel is a pastor in Conception who loves Jesus and passionate about sports. He flew from Conception to Santiago to meet with us and attend a seminar Ric was conducting. We connected right from the start. He has an impactful sports ministry in his church. After talking, our desire is to see sports ministry in churches multiplied throughout Chile. We spent time praying and exploring ways God may be leading us to work together to see this happen.
In fact, God used a picture of my family to spur possible ministry. I was showing Leonel a picture of my family, he asked what sports my kids played. I shared Caleb has played American Football. Leonel brightened up and shared that his two boys play also. I was surprised because I didn’t expect that in Chile. He went on to share there are 26 club teams throughout Chile. In fact, the Conception team meets at his church. He asked about the possibility of bringing a coach to do clinics with players and coaches. If so, he can arrange clinic and ministry opportunities all over the country. Excitedly, I relayed to Leonel that I have had several American Football coaches express interest to serve with us. However, we did not have any opportunities…UNTIL NOW! If you know of a football coach who may be keen to serve, please let me know.
I was also able to give Leonel some sports Gospel tracts in Spanish and bracelets. He was encouraged and thrilled to receive these because items like these are valuable to their ministry but difficult to obtain in Chile. A few days later, I received an email from Leonel. He relayed the story that when he was at the Santiago airport waiting for his flight back to Conception, he met two professional soccer players from Bolivia. Leonel began a conversation with them and shared the Gospel with them using one of these tracts and bracelets.
Leonel (center) after sharing with two professional soccer players. Player on left showing sport Gospel bracelet and player on right holding sport Gospel tract. Leonel received these resources the night before.