A Few Weeks at an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament

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A few weeks ago, I was invited to come “hang out” at an ultimate frisbee tournament in Savanna, Georgia –¬†High Tide Ultimate Tournament.¬† The tournament director is the FCA staff person in the area and hosts the tournament every year.¬† The tournament is held during the weeks of Spring Break for college students across the country. With over 50 schools represented and approximately 20 players on each team, there were well over 1000 students present each week.

Being that there was a large Red Bull tent available the first week, our plans were to hold a voluntary devotional every day and offer a few free snacks to the attendees.  The first week was very warm and sunny and so the tent came in quite handy.  As students gathered around under the tent for a break from the tournament, I would announce our intentions and invite everyone to stay and listen, but also left it optional with no one being thought less of if they decided not to stay.

On the first day, we had approximately 15 players decide to stay.¬† I shared with them how no matter what they left at school and at home before Spring Break would still be there when they returned.¬† I talked about struggles in life and how being a Christian is not about having a ‘better’ life, but rather learning how to overcome the trials in life. I shared with them the much-favored verse from Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” I also shared that while many people love this verse, they don’t realize the context from which the verse came.¬† Jeremiah is writing a letter to Israel on behalf of the Lord telling the Israelites that they are about to be taken captive by the Babylonians and their captivity will last 70 years.¬† God warns the Israelites not to worship the gods of the Babylonians and not to intermarry.¬† The Israelites are to continue planting their crops and living obediently to God. Then, God promises to bring them out of this captivity.¬† I encouraged the students that while life may be tough, they must submit to God, and eventually, he will bring them out, but their struggles were necessary¬†for their growth and God’s plans.

I asked the students if they believed anything about what I was saying or if they thought it was all a bunch of bologna. I asked them to please be honest.¬† Honest, they were.¬† They then began to open up.¬† Some professed atheism while others admitted that they didn’t know what they believed.¬† They all began asking some great questions.¬† A devotional that was supposed to last only thirty minutes lasted for almost an hour.

This was the same case all week. God continued to bring different students (I don’t think the same student came more than twice all week) and increased the size of the crowd every day. Complete honesty between myself and the students was mutually expressed.  We had many great conversations.  I’m so thankful that the students opened up and communicated with me.

I remember two great conversations I had that week.¬† The first was earlier in the week with a male student who asked me what I thought of people in other religions. It was a question that he was struggling with. I told him that I while I believe they are lost because Jesus Christ is the only way to receive forgiveness of sin, I still believe they are created in the image of God and that God truly loves them and is passionately seeking a relationship with them. Therefore, we still should love them at all costs. I asked him why he asked me that question.¬†¬†The young man¬†told me that he was raised as a Christian and still believed in Christianity, but that he hung out with non-Christians and for that, among other reasons, his Christian friends poked fun at him.¬† His non-Christian friends always asked him why he would want to be associated with people like that. I admitted that I could see their point, but no matter what is said about us, we must remain obedient to Christ, and He calls us to love¬†everyone. I asked him if he went to church anywhere. He said that he didn’t.¬† I told him that he wouldn’t be very effective on the field playing ultimate by himself against an entire team; he agreed. I told him that he would be more likely to get tired faster and give up; he again agreed. I expressed to him that it was important to be involved with a church so that he could feel strengthened and encouraged.¬† I saw the young man on the last day of the tournament and asked him if he had thought any more about what we talked about. He replied that he had and that one of the players on his team was a minister at a local church (I’m assuming a youth pastor or something of that sort). The young man told me that he had talked to his teammate the same night we had talked and his teammate had invited him to attend his church.¬† The young man told me that he would be going with his teammate when they got back home.

The second conversation that I remember from the first week was with a female student. During our devotional time, she asked me if I believed the Bible should be read literally.¬† To give her the simple, short answer, I replied that I did.¬† She began expressing that there were certain contradictions in the Bible.¬† I asked her to name one…she couldn’t.¬† She also said that there were passages that could not be read literally in today’s society.¬† Again, I asked her to name one…again, she couldn’t. She made some obscure references to certain passages, but I reasoned with her that she was missing the¬†thrust¬†of those passages. She told me that she was raised in a traditional, conservative Methodist church, but that she didn’t agree with literal interpretations. After everyone left, she thanked me for talking with everyone.¬† I asked her if I could ask her a question. She replied, “Sure.” I asked where she was now; where her relationship with Christ currently stood. She admitted that she was struggling.¬† Being in college for a few years, she hadn’t¬†gotten plugged into a church. She shared that it was hard to stay strong with the people she was hanging around and her teammates.¬† I shared with her that Christ told a story in the Bible once about putting a light under a bowl.¬† I asked her what happens when you put a lit candle under a bowl.¬† She answered, “It goes out.”¬† I asked, “Why?” She replied, “Because it loses oxygen.”¬† I said, “Yep,” and continued to share with her that there is a light in her.¬† Unfortunately, you’ve put that light under a bowl and have hidden it.¬† Now you’re losing oxygen and you are suffocating.¬† She began to cry.¬† I told her that God has put her on the team and in her circle of friends for a reason – to let her light shine and to be an influence for him. But instead, she’s dying on the inside.¬† I had the opportunity to pray with/for her and encourage her.¬† I know that she was ministered to and will remember that week.

The second week of the tournament was a little different.¬† The Red Bull tent was removed due to storm warnings all week.¬† We, therefore, didn’t have any “devotionals” the second week. Most of the opportunities that I had were with individuals.¬† But God knew what he was doing – he always does.

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