Irfan Francis is Sports Coordinator at the Bible Society of Pakistan
“Sport has the power to unite people in a way little else can. It breaks down racial barriers, it laughs in the face of all kinds of discrimination. Sport speaks to people in a way they can understand” – Nelson Mandela (Former President of South Africa).
Celebrations always come from the human spirit and sport is a wonderful tool that provides a beautiful opportunity to play, work and enjoy togetherness despite differences. Sports are a most prominent and valuable means of entertainment for all ages of people. It creates a platform to bring together churches, para-church organizations, Christian and non-Christian organization and government sectors to support the talent of youth, children and kids in sports. Sport develops and encourages the spirit of healthy competition which is a natural instinct in man and demands an outlet.
Sport is a wonderful tool that provides a beautiful opportunity to play, work and enjoy togetherness despite differences.
For the last thirteen years we as the Pakistan Bible Society have been receiving positive response from the sportsmen at sports events. We have also been producing special biblical literature for sportsmen and we also expose them to the ministries of the Pakistan Bible Society. Before sports events, our sports committee selects moral and Biblical lessons for sports events like self control, perseverance, confidence, leadership, loyalty, courage, focus, humility, team work, sacrifice, hope and integrity. In this regard we invite God’s servants from churches and para-churches who come and teach them from the Bible and sportsmen receive the Word of God during sports events. Through this strategy we observe behavioural changes in many sportsmen.
Sport is an excellent tool to promote harmony among sportsmen who belong to different backgrounds. During our sports programme we promote peace, love, and social harmony, and play friendly matches between Christian and non-Christian to symbolize this. Since 2009 we have had friendly matches with the different communities. During matches we shared the message of love, brotherhood and harmony between two major religions in Pakistan. We also invite heads of different communities and political leaders too. They come and join us and share their love and appreciation with Christian community. In 2015, we invited Moulana Abdul Khabeer Azad who is Kateeb (Muslim cleric) of Badshai Mosque which is the biggest one in Lahore. He encouraged the efforts of the Pakistan Bible Society in the field of sport and said on this occasion that sport is a wonderful opportunity to promote love among different communities in Pakistan, especially in the present era.
During matches we shared the message of love, brotherhood and harmony between two major religions in Pakistan.
“My name is Salim Bhana. I have been playing football since 1987 and was a national player. I am the captain of the Christian team. I have felt alone whenever I play football with non-Christian communities. Who will lift up the Christian standard in my country? Who will give time to the emerging generation? I participated in the Pakistan Bible Society Sports Festival where a number of Christian teams were playing different sports. During the sports activities the Word of God was shared. I realized who I was and what my responsibilities need to be. I can serve my Christian community here in my country through football. I started working with children including my own and now my two sons have played in the junior football championship at state level. I am now running a Christian Football club, where I coach many young people.”
Our project has more to it than sport events. We also help sportsmen who struggle with drug addiction. We provide biblical counseling, and as a result, we are excited to see positive changes. Some drug addicts have given up their habits and returned to a healthy everyday life.
Our project has more to it than sport events. We also help sportsmen who struggle with drug addiction.
Sport is also intended to draw nominal Christians in Pakistan who do not regularly engage with the Bible or attend church services. The goal is to bring about the change of attitude and give fresh meaning to their lives. Through sport, a number of young sportsmen started reading their Bibles regularly and have become more regular in attending church along with their families. In fact, this programme significantly contributes for the moral and spiritual development of sportsman.
Although IBAC exists to foster conversations on Bible advocacy-related issues, the views or opinions represented in this blog are solely those of the author