Sunday, January 20, 2008

COOPERATION: Synergy for Jesus!

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."
Galatians 6:7-10
One of our sons works evenings for United Parcel Service (UPS), one of the world’s largest, express package handlers. UPS has a unique assistance program called the Athlete Training Assistance Program (ATAP). ATAP helps American athletes, in training for national and international competitions, by providing them a job balanced against their demanding training and competition schedules.

Eugene Swift (110m high hurdles), a Human Resources supervisor in Oakland, California, and Tongula Givens (triple jump), a part-time, smalls sorter in UPS’s East Carolina District, are both examples of employees who benefit from ATAP; both have their sights set on the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

UPS recognizes the tremendous public relations benefit that accumulates from ATAP’s goodwill and novelty.

[Adapted from “Newsmakers,” InsideUPS, Sarah Zimmerman Ed., December 1999, 12,13.]

Large churches and parachurch ministries ought to take a look at UPS’s ATAP. Many God-gifted athletes [as well as those from other fields] go begging in order to find the right combination of employment, training, and competition. Many are also raising families, or would like to. Why does it appear that only secular institutions take advantage of such unique and wonderful outreach (public relations) tools?

Why couldn’t one of the many full-time, paid employees of a large mission organization (say the Southern Baptist’s International Missions Board) or a large church (say Willow Creek or the Crystal Cathedral) be a committed Christian athlete? Why shouldn’t God be glorified in such a novel way? Why shouldn’t athletes from other nations be struck with the multifaceted outreach of the Christian community in this affluent United States of America?

Seems to me the hero of the movie Chariots of Fire was an athlete; and, if I remember correctly, The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association used to distribute a movie about a well-known Christian runner. What great testimonies these and others have provided to us. But I must ask, where was the church when they were testifying?

Maybe I’m just dreaming.

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