Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Family Weekend at CU We Hope Will Create Memories and Change the World

This coming weekend is a couple of days I always look forward to on the CU campus…it is Family Weekend and I love all the extra parents and siblings who come to CU and get a little taste of what college life is like in 2011…for parents it takes them back to past memories, and for siblings it gives them a little preview of what the future might hold…and in the midst of looking back and looking forward we’ve designed Family Weekend this year to focus on some really important things that are happening in our world right now…

On Friday we are inviting all CU students and the families visiting to help meet the needs of those in east Africa affected by one of the worst famines in recent memory…every day 18,000 kids across the world die simply because they don’t have enough to eat, and we are partnering with an organization called Feed My Starving Children because we think Jesus wants us to try and change that reality in our world…there are three blocks of time in where we need about 170 people to come to the Hansen Center blue gym and build meals for 2 hours that will provide the food and nutrition to children and families literally waiting and praying for food to eat…it is an experience I highly recommend as it has challenged me and my family to care more deeply about global hunger, and we’ve had a really good time trying to respond to the least in Jesus’ name…we are hoping to build 100,000 meals in just one day on our campus…sign up online today at this link and help us feed the hungry in our world:

On Saturday, we are hosting our second annual Night of Nets soccer matches to respond to another global crisis that threatens millions of children’s lives in our world today…malaria takes the lives of over three quarters of a million kids in sub-Saharan Africa each year, and this disease transmitted by mosquito bites at night is very much preventable…we never really charge students and fans at our soccer games on campus but we are inviting each person who comes to the women’s game at 12 pm or the men’s game at 2:30 pm to pay a suggested admission fee of $6 at this one match…you see, six dollars will purchase a treated bed net that will protect children all across Zambia from being infected with this deadly disease as they are sleeping… we love the fact that we get to play the game Africa loves and use the platform it provides to help save the next generation of soccer players on the other side of the world…in fact, these nets will be delivered to families this May by many of the athletes you can watch play on Saturday afternoon…you can check out more and even donate online if you can’t come to either of the soccer games at the website we created for our Night of Nets event:

It really should be a fantastic weekend here at CU…we hope many of you share a bunch of laughs and create memories with your family members that have come to see you…and we hope that hundreds and hundreds of CU students do something on a fall Friday or Saturday that will together help make people’s lives and our world reflect more what God’s Kingdom looks like…lives where food is available and malaria is eradicated in the name of Jesus by His followers that love God and their neighbors…CUSG hopes you’ll be part of these events as we seek to make CU a place where our student culture loves to serve and bless those in need both near and far away…

Hope to see you packing food and watching soccer balls fly this weekend!

Chip Huber
Dean of Student Engagement/Family Weekend Coordinator

Friday, September 23, 2011


Check out this video about our upcoming Night of Nets soccer matches next Saturday October 1 at 12 and 2:30 pm here at watching our players get jazzed about using soccer platform to respond to huge global issues like malaria..

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SPORTS SAVES THE WORLD...A Writing Piece You Have to Read by Alexander Wolff in this week's Sports Illustrated magazine..

A fascinating, encouraging, inspiring article that speaks why I love sports more than ever today...I can't wait to go help prevent HIV/AIDS as we play soccer in Zambia this summer; I can't wait to provide thousands of bed nets to prevent malaria because we are inviting everyone we know to a couple soccer matches at CU next weekend; and I can't wait to dream and scheme with my son Trey in the years ahead how our love and participation in sports can bring God's Kingdom to this world...I hope you can read this whole piece and dream as athletes and coaches and fans along with us all...

In grassroots programs involving tens of thousands of participants around the globe, visionaries are using athletics to tackle the most pressing problems of the developing world—from AIDS in Africa to violence in Rio. Can such projects make a lasting difference, or is the dream of salvation through sports too grandiose? SI senior writer Alexander Wolff set off on a yearlong journey to find the answer


I ran into Johann Olav Koss again in February 2010, at the Olympic oval in Richmond, B.C. The sight of Koss, then a temporary coach with Norway's speedskating team, transported me back 16 years instantly, happily.

I can't help it: Listmaking is a male thing, even more a sportswriterly thing, and I fastidiously rank Olympic Games. With its glitch-filled first week, the trucked-in snow and the fatal crash of a Georgian luger, the Vancouver edition will forever be an also-ran. The Winter Games of 1994, on the other hand, still surmount my desert-island alltime top five list of Olympics. Lillehammer abides with me not just because Koss won three gold medals and set three world records in three races; Dan Jansen finally skated to a gold himself; and 100,000 Norwegians camped overnight in the snow so they could cheer cross-country skiers with cowbells the next morning. It was the harmonious vibe, the intimate scale, the clean Scandinavian lines of the venues, even the crisp weather—as if the Norse gods had dropped a membrane over the town, sealing it off from the world's impurities.

The only breach of this hermetic idyll was on the pedestrian mall of Lillehammer's main street, where a few people solicited for a charity called Olympic Aid. They invoked Sarajevo, the Yugoslavian city that had hosted the Winter Games a decade earlier and, as a result of the war in the Balkans, remained under what would be the longest siege in modern history. The looping anthem of Sarajevo's suffering, Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor, haunted me every time I walked by. It seemed to whisper that, even as nature re-created a little patch of Eden for the playing of games, mankind still ginned up reminders of its fallen state.

And then the Perfect Olympics delivered its own latter-day god, a man to go forth into the Imperfect World and set it right. I'd watched Koss skate his triple at the Vikingskipet Oval. I'd heard him pledge his bonus money to Olympic Aid and challenge his countrymen to give 10 kroner each for every Norwegian gold medal, inspiring his government and fellow citizens to give $18 million over 10 days (page 70). For this as much as anything else, SI named Koss its 1994 Sportsman of the Year, an award he shared with U.S. speedskater Bonnie Blair. My colleague E.M. Swift wrote the story about the Olympic champion from Norway with a "headful of dreams and almost a lifetime in which to accomplish them."

We were now 16 years into that life left to live. When I saw Koss at the Richmond Oval, I asked, How goes the battle?

Sport, Koss replied, is doing nothing less than trying to save the world. Olympic Aid, since renamed Right To Play, now reaches 700,000 children in 20 countries during any given week. But Koss's outfit is only one player among hundreds in a burgeoning global movement. Today the field known generally as Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) extends well beyond nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) such as Right To Play. It attracts growing support from foundations and corporations, while governments and international agencies are eager to serve as partners to groups on the ground. And as the effectiveness of programs is more precisely measured, SDP's value as a tool for good is becoming more widely acknowledged. Even the stodgiest onlookers agree that sport "plays the hidden social worker," in the words of former champion miler Sebastian Coe, now chairman of the London 2012 organizing committee.

That is a good thing, for almost half the world's population is considered poor, and a full 1.4 billion people—one fifth of humanity, including more than half of all Africans—are extremely poor, living on less than $1.25 a day. As maladies of plenty such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease afflict the developed world, and elite pro sports reek of excess, SDP is a sobering counterpoint, spreading health messages, pacifying communities in conflict, preparing refugees for resettlement and providing what experts consider the simplest means of promoting development: improved status for women. At the turn of this century, when the U.N. drew up its Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 and eliminate it entirely by '25, Koss and Right To Play led the way in determining how sport could best help.

On the morning of the 2010 Olympic opening ceremonies, across Vancouver at a symposium at the University of British Columbia, the former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, Stephen Lewis, delivered a confession. Lewis, who had served the U.N. secretary general as an anti-AIDS adviser, had long been skeptical of the value of sports. But SDP had won him over. "[Koss] understood early that you could use play to convey messages that aren't available anywhere else," Lewis told his audience. "Sport has become a development philosophy. Who would have imagined that to be possible? What began as an instinct has now become a profound social cause."

I wanted to see how, exactly. So after the dousing of the Vancouver flame, I lit out for far corners of this Imperfect World in search of other friends of sport who, like Koss, had broken from their bubbles to heed the Adagio call of Lillehammer.


It's not a classic hillside slum, but Complexo da Maré is easily one of Rio's largest favelas—a sprawling neighborhood of 135,000 people hard by the route visitors will travel between the airport and the beaches when they come to this city for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Rival drug gangs recruit kids as foot soldiers and sort out differences with gunplay. Luke Dowdney has driven me into the favela beneath weltering electrical wires and past huddled walk-ups. He parks our car and we stroll a block. A boy of no more than 15 preens in an intersection, automatic weapon slung over one shoulder.

Dowdney, a former British universities light middleweight boxing champion, came to Brazil in 1995 to study street children in the northern city of Recife for his dissertation in social anthropology. He was haunted by the murder of two kids he had grown close to and by the words of a 12-year-old drug trafficker who told him, "I'm going to die young, but I'm going to live well." One day a group of glue-sniffing boys asked him to show them some boxing moves. "When they'd get in a stance, they'd leave the glue behind," says Dowdney, 38, "and a light went off in my head."

In 2000, Dowdney founded a boxing and martial arts program in Maré called Luta Pela Paz, or Fight for Peace, and five years later he opened a training and educational center. On its first floor, boys and girls practice boxing, wrestling and the Brazilian martial art capoeira. In a suite of second-floor classrooms the same kids learn computer skills, citizenship and conflict resolution; they also practice martial arts in a third-floor matted dojo. Boxer Douglas Noronha, whose brother was shot to death in '01, is one of about 4,600 young Cariocas to go through the program. "You'd think I'd have become more violent," he tells me. "In fact, I've become a more controlled person. It's all about the self-confidence and discipline of not finding yourself in a position where, before you know it, somebody's got a gun."

Dowdney introduces me to another fighter, Roberto Custódio, who was 14 when his father was ordered out of the favela by a drug trafficker who was jealous of his relationship with a local woman. When he returned to look in on his family, which he supported as a bus driver, the drug lord settled the matter in his usual way, with bullets.

Figuring that fitness and martial arts would help him square accounts with his father's killer, Roberto turned to Luta Pela Paz. Then the unexpected happened. The program transformed his bloodlust into something altogether new. As he developed the discipline that boxing demands—and took the academic classes required of all participants—relatives marveled that his anger gradually drained away. Last October, Roberto, now 24, won the light welterweight gold medal at the Brazilian championships, and he is likely to qualify for the London Olympics as a welterweight. "Our program isn't just about getting rid of energy," Dowdney tells me. "It's also about rigor and values. The disciplined fighter will always beat the overwrought fighter. Luta means fight, but it also means struggle, in a good way."

Dowdney hopes to develop a funding stream from a new line of fightwear and lifestyle clothing called Luta ( "If the line hits, it becomes the engine," says Dowdney, who runs a second Fight for Peace center in East London that has trained 1,700 boxers. "We're not about being a traditional charity. It's like boxing: You get out what you put in. If you're not trained, you don't win. That's life. You've got to step up."

Last spring, as a crew filmed a commercial for the Luta brand in a ring set up in a warehouse at the edge of the favela, a gunfight broke out between police and traffickers. The film crew dove under the ring for cover. That's what favela dwellers such as Roberto Custódio deal with. Says Dowdney, "Luta is about celebrating the real heroes in the favelas, young people born into extraordinary adversity who get painted as victims when they're actually aspirational heroes."


Tommy Clark figured his sojourn in Zimbabwe to play pro soccer after college would be a joyous homecoming. He'd spent part of his teens in that southern African nation while his father, former Scotland international Bobby Clark, coached Highlanders F.C. in Bulawayo. But what he found upon returning in 1992 left him mystified and heartbroken. Seven of his dad's finest players—seemingly invincible footballers whom Tommy had idolized—were dead or dying. Worst of all, no one dared say why. "I was there for a year," says Clark, who also taught school and coached, "and I didn't have a single conversation about HIV."

Clark hit upon the idea of using soccer to break down this wall of silence and educate Africans about HIV. He embarked on a medical career, with a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in HIV research in the U.S. In 2002, Clark launched Grassroot Soccer with three ex-Highlanders, including Ethan Zohn, the Survivor: Africa champion who donated a chunk of his $1 million prize money to the cause. Today the organization operates in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe and shares curriculum and resources with partners in nine other African countries. Studies confirm that graduates of the program wait longer to engage in sex; have fewer partners; and are more willing to talk about HIV with peers and relatives, take an HIV test and stay on treatment if they test positive. Those proven results have attracted such patrons as Elton John, whose AIDS foundation contributed $1.4 million last year to fund the program in Zambia. There's no way to tie the 50% drop in the HIV infection rate among South African teens from 2005 to '08 directly to Grassroot Soccer, but foundations are showing their confidence in the program with more grant money. This week the Clinton Global Initiative announced a $1 million commitment to a Grassroot program for South African girls.

Among the organization's most effective tools are the voluntary counseling and testing tournaments that it uses to reach the men who drive the disease. Clark invited me to a tournament in Motherwell, a township in the South African city of Port Elizabeth. For years locals had hidden behind euphemisms, saying of an HIV-positive woman, "She has a House in Veeplaas," a play on the name of a local neighborhood. But there had been a breakthrough a week before my visit, when South African president Jacob Zuma—a father of 22 children by multiple wives—announced the results of his own HIV test. (They were negative.)

The grounds outside a school teemed with players who ducked into a makeshift clinic between games, and Grassroot personnel touted a posttournament dance contest to flush more prospects out of a nearby supermarket. By the end of the day 289 more people knew their HIV status. "Five years ago, if you'd bring up HIV, everyone would shut down," one of the tournament workers, 27-year-old Mkadi Nkopane, told me. "Now a 10-year-old will tell you of an uncle or mother who's positive. The stigma will always be there, but it's much less now."

As the game that launches countless conversations in Africa, soccer is a natural idiom to cut through the taboos surrounding one of the continent's most pressing problems. In one popular drill, each soccer ball stands for a sexual partner. A player dribbling two balls is easily chased down by a defender who represents the AIDS virus; a player dribbling only one ball eludes that defender much longer, and a memorable point is made. Grassroot Soccer distributed thousands of "red cards" during the 2010 World Cup to help teenage girls, who can be up to eight times more likely to become infected than their male counterparts, use sass and humor to fend off unwanted sexual approaches. "The culture soccer creates around this topic is our 'secret sauce,' " says Grassroot Soccer COO Bill Miles. "By focusing on intergenerational sex and multiple partners, you try to shift social norms. And if you shift social norms, you change the epidemic."

Clark and his fellow ex-Highlanders work in part to honor the dead of Bulawayo—men such as the former star of the Zimbabwean national team who was refused service by bank tellers because of the stigma of AIDS, and the ex-player who trained as one of Grassroot Soccer's first coaches only to die before he could work with kids. "We're trying to be both bold and humble," says Clark, 40, whose program is nearly halfway toward its goal of a million youth participants by '14. "We ask for millions of dollars, and we're trying to change behavior and norms on a huge scale. But we also know we're not always going to have the answer, and that there may be a better answer tomorrow."


When it ventures to global trouble spots, basketball can flash a kind of diplomatic passport. In South Africa, hoops comes without the racial baggage of soccer (a largely black sport) or rugby (mostly white). In divided Cyprus it's loved equally by citizens of Turkish and Greek descent. In Northern Ireland it's regarded as neither a Gaelic game by Protestants nor a game of the British garrison by Catholics. All of which helps explain the success of Peace Players International (PPI), which has spent the past decade using basketball to build bridges among young people in divided communities.

In the Middle East such efforts face a challenge of another magnitude. Upon launching there in 2005, PPI easily found Israeli Arabs to mix with Jewish kids in its programs. But Palestinian parents in the Israeli-controlled West Bank balked at letting their boys and girls travel to Israel for integrated play. Meanwhile, poor coaching and inadequate facilities in the West Bank led kids there to fear that their lack of hoops competency would only bolster Israeli stereotypes of worthless Palestinians.

On a brilliant spring day in 2010, Brendan Tuohey flashes me a smile as he oversees a PPI youth tournament in a Tel Aviv park. "Five years ago we decided to build up the skills of Palestinian kids," says Tuohey, a former player at Colgate whose brother Sean had the idea for the organization. "It's a big breakthrough that players from [the Palestinian city of] Ramallah chose to get on the bus to come here today."

Some parents on both sides of the Israel-Palestine divide still hesitate to let their kids enter PPI's programs—Jews out of safety concerns and Arabs because of cultural norms for girls. But the chance to get good coaching at no cost, plus uniforms and occasional travel, has enticed some 5,600 participants. "They all come for sport," PPI Middle East director Karen Doubilet tells me. " 'Meet the other side' is just something they put up with in order to do what they really want to do."

Children ages 10 to 14 participate in PPI's "twinning" program, in which Jews and Arabs at first practice regularly in their home communities, then combine into mixed teams under two coaches (one Arab and one Jewish) and meet weekly throughout the school year. At 15 they're eligible to become PPI coaches themselves; last season two teams of 15- and 16-year-old Arab and Jewish girls competed in the Israeli first division under the PPI banner. Meanwhile, in hoops-deprived parts of the West Bank such as Ramallah and nearby refugee camps, PPI continues to offer its "single-identity" program to boost the level of Palestinian basketball, provide constructive outlets for kids' energy and train coaches as leaders.

Once PPI gets them, most participants buy into the coexistence component. It's based on a curriculum, developed by a U.S.-based conflict-resolution think tank called the Arbinger Institute, that supplies strategies for exploring why one side stigmatizes the other and how to change those attitudes. "After Arbinger they might still clique up," says Heni Bizawi, who has played and coached in the program, "but according to different variables, like Jaffa versus Jerusalem instead of Arab versus Jew."

Peace Players has helped make a fan of Raneem Nashef, a 12-year-old Arab who lives in the West Jerusalem enclave of Beit Safafa. She'll wake up early to watch TV broadcasts involving her favorite player, Omri Casspi, the Jewish Israeli who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Her mother, Lubna, who grew up despising the yellow and blue of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Casspi's old club, catches me by surprise: "My daughter feels Casspi represents her. She knows he comes from her part of the world."

In the seemingly intractable Arab-Israeli conflict, progress is measured in tiny steps. "A lot of people in my school don't like Arabs and don't know that I play PPI," says Naomi Goldstein, 14. "I don't tell them."

Amir Abu Dalu, 19, an Arab who's now a PPI coach, also keeps his counsel: "Otherwise I might get in trouble."

But a tiny step is a step just the same. First a bus ride, then a basketball game, ultimately the realization that someone you thought was your enemy makes a pretty good teammate. "In basketball it's easy to communicate," says Dalu. "You can play a game and connect, just like that."


Johann Olav Koss runs Right To Play out of Canada's largest city, and University of Toronto professor and former Olympic distance runner Bruce Kidd has been a reliable sounding board for him. I've turned up at Kidd's office because SDP is one of his academic specialties, and I'm looking for a sense of where the movement has been and where it might go.

In the 19th century, English-speaking exporters of sport, freighted with ulterior motives such as imperialism and evangelism, held attitudes strikingly different from those of Luke Dowdney, Tommy Clark and Brendan Tuohey. The Victorians took their "Games Ethic" from the playing fields of Eton and sent it overseas to "civilize" the ancestors of many of the very people engaged by SDP today.

Fast-forward to 1987, to Kenya and the Eastlands of Nairobi. A Canadian environmental worker named Bob Munro looks on as a handful of kids play with a soccer ball made of discarded shopping bags tied with bits of string. "Clean up the field," Munro tells them, "and I'll give you a real ball." Soon Munro launches the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), a soccer league with a blunt message: If you do something, MYSA does something; if you do nothing, MYSA does nothing. To join elite teams, players must pledge to perform thousands of hours of community service together each season. Those who organize cleanups, counsel peers in AIDS-prevention activities and coach or referee younger kids become eligible for scholarships. Teams can't take a field unless they clear it of trash—but earn points in the standings for doing so. Today MYSA, which is owned and run by the youths themselves and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 and '04, touches 25,000 young Kenyans at any given time with nested-in-sport programs in community building, health education and environmentalism.

Kidd points out that the recent rise of SDP coincides with the fall of apartheid as much as it follows from the efforts of Koss and MYSA. Activists who had led the international sports boycott that helped bring down the South African regime—Kidd among them—essentially asked, "What do we do now?" They rallied to the answer that came back from their allies in the new Africa: "Help us build sport."

Today even those in sport's sunlit uplands are responding to that cry. When he stood before the IOC in Singapore in 2005 to deliver the final pitch for London's 2012 Olympic bid, Sebastian Coe pledged millions in aid for SDP to benefit 12 million people in 20 countries. The IOC chose London over Paris, Moscow, Madrid and New York City in large part because of that commitment to "legacy." In its winning bid for the 2016 Olympics, Rio also distinguished itself over rivals such as Chicago with a superior commitment to grassroots sport. With the most recent World Cup and Commonwealth Games having taken place in South Africa and India, respectively, and the next World Cup and Olympics ticketed for Brazil, a legacy component for the developing world is the new normal for major global events.

But Kidd is among many students of the movement who sound cautionary notes. "It's woefully underfunded and highly uncoordinated," he tells me. "And it's completely unregulated and largely isolated from mainstream development efforts." At international conferences dedicated to SDP, delegates from the developing world complain about Westerners who parachute in with things that aren't wanted or needed. As Right To Play spearheads the handoff of responsibility to locals, such as a 500-person team in Liberia led by a former refugee who first encountered SDP in a displacement camp, Kidd credits Koss with leading a move away from "a top-down, we-know-what-you-need approach with First World volunteers."

Before the Brazilian national soccer team visited Port-au-Prince in 2004 to play its Haitian counterparts, organizers proposed offering free tickets to those who turned in a firearm, only to cancel the plan at the last minute out of security fears. Even so, without a long-term violence-reduction campaign, such an event would have been a one-off with limited impact. "More attention has to be paid to context," Kidd tells me. "It's got to be sport plus. Sport plus education, sport plus health, sport plus peace-building." For all its networking and digital platforms, SDP's biggest challenge may be coordination. "In Zambia, I saw kids in slums who'd been trained five or more times by different NGOs, while just outside the city there was nothing," Kidd says. "NGOs aren't just fighting for donors, they're fighting for kids."

Or as Eli Wolff of Brown University's Sport and Development Project, who also coordinates the International Sport for Development and Peace Association, puts it, "There's been this boom, lots of networks and groups, but not really a professionalization of the field. There's no credentialing process or quality control, the way there is for teachers or lawyers. And there's the question, Is it effective?"

It's a familiar demand in sports: Show me the numbers. Is a program actually creating a positive outcome or just coinciding with it? "Because there's so much evidence that participation is a good thing, it's easy to assume that programs work," says Amy Farkas, a former sport-for-development specialist with UNICEF. "It's a lot easier to simply justify your program's existence than to do the hard work of justifying the impact of the intervention. That's why all sport-for-development programs need rigorous monitoring and evaluation."

Kidd believes the clamor for M & E, as it's known, can be taken too far. "People who have personal trainers, who choose schools for their kids based on athletic opportunities, tell us, 'Prove it! Prove that sport has benefits!' " he says. "That's where Johann has made a huge contribution. He continues to argue on the rights-based front."

But practitioners of all types recognize that funders are increasingly insisting on proof of results. "You're tempted to do sport for sport's sake, because it's fun," says Miles, the Grassroot Soccer executive. "We like it. But you have to show donors the outcomes."


The Beyond Sport Summit is a three-day mixer for all sides of SDP's triangle—problem, practitioner and patron. It's a place to shake loose funding and inspire others, and it serves as the Grammys of the field, a place to call attention to deserving programs. Dowdney, Clark and Tuohey turned up for the 2010 edition in Chicago, but so too did scores of first-timers, many with little more than a notion and a dream.

Since its founding in 2008, Beyond Sport, a London-based firm that helps match practitioners with corporate sponsors, has had a particular eye for the modest initiative that would have an enormous impact if only it could be replicated or scaled up. But even Beyond Sport can't recognize every worthy project. Cambodia, for instance, is a country whose 40,000 amputees, victims of some of the millions of mines laid during a decade of war, were long considered unemployable. Now more than 60% of the players in the Cambodian National Volleyball League-Disabled (CNVL-D), mostly demobilized soldiers from both sides of the conflict, hold jobs. Even more notably, with its sponsors and broad fan following, the league has so transformed public attitudes that many disabled Cambodians, athletic and not, now wear shorts to show off their prostheses. A league like the CNVL-D could flourish in virtually any postconflict part of the world.

Moving the Goalposts is another initiative ready for its scale-up. It offers soccer to Kenyan girls, who are much more likely than boys to be HIV-positive. The program distributes packs of sanitary pads imprinted with health messages, but it operates only in the coastal region of Kilifi—which invites the question, What if it had the funding to expand throughout sub-Saharan Africa?

Similarly, in barely five years Globalbike has touched the lives of some 400,000 people by supplying bicycles to frontline aid workers in Africa and Asia. A microfinance loan officer serving village artisans in Ethiopia, an engineer working to ensure clean water in Bolivia, a health worker delivering vaccines in Zambia—each can see three times as many people and carry five times as much equipment by bike as on foot. A U.S.-based pro cycling team spreads word of Globalbike's impact so far, which suggests what could be accomplished if tens of thousands of bikes were delivered to the field.

No one in the developing world wants to depend on Western aid, so much buzz in the halls and breakout rooms in Chicago was about programs that have come up with their own revenue streams—groups such as Grupo Desportivo de Manica in Mozambique, a soccer club turned community hub that is building Futeco Park, three pitches girdled by 1,500 trees flush with mangos, lychees, oranges, avocados, guavas and papayas, which members will harvest and sell to fund the club's activities.

Indeed, there's a salutary realism amid all the idealism. John Sugden, an English sociologist who pioneered the "twinning" concept 25 years earlier with a mixed-faith soccer team in Belfast during the height of the Troubles and who is now the director of Football 4 Peace, doing in the Middle East with soccer what PPI does with basketball, puts it both wryly and well: "It's not as if you can sprinkle the pixie dust of sport and everything's going to be fine."

But sport does have its bewitching power, and for evidence a skeptic need only look at South Africa. Even in solitary confinement Nelson Mandela knew that many of his fellow black nationalists played soccer during their captivity on Robben Island. As he heard how the future leaders of his country brought the game to life with their own meticulously run Makana Football Association (MFA), Mandela recognized that soccer brought them to life—and he could imagine them in turn taking the obligations of democracy seriously. Since the fall of apartheid, former MFA players, referees and officials have served as South Africa's president, defense minister, minister for safety and security, deputy chief justice and sports minister, as well as provincial premiers and members of parliament. In prison Mandela began to recognize a truth he would articulate decades later as a free man: "Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down barriers. Sport has the power to change the world."

Mandela would demonstrate this masterfully as president of the new nation. Aware of the hold of rugby on the Afrikaaner imagination, he enlisted white captain François Pienaar to help him rally citizens of all races around the national team, the Springboks—long a symbol of white-minority rule—for the 1995 World Cup, which South Africa hosted and won. Says team manager Morne du Plessis of the story told in the film Invictus: "The very game that kept us apart for so long, he used to unite this country."

Thus modern South Africa owes its existence as a functioning, multiracial democracy partly to the braiding together of two epic sports stories—one from a largely black game, the other from a historically white one. Considering that sport, through the international boycott, helped do away with apartheid, it's not a bad showing for a few decades' work in one small corner of the globe.

Emmanuel Madonda grew up in Durban, South Africa's fourth-largest city, and now works for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. "I was 14 at the time of the '95 Rugby World Cup, and it was a pivotal moment for my country," he tells me during a break in the conference. "But even more powerful is the ongoing delivery of programming, of working deeply with young people. In Zulu we have this concept of ubuntu: 'I am because you are.' That is the essence of it."

Today sporting ubuntu extends from the street kid in Rio who, thanks to boxing, is transformed from avenging tough into potential Olympian; to the African AIDS orphan who, thanks to soccer, has a better chance of living long enough to raise children of her own; to the Arab girl in West Jerusalem who, thanks to basketball, feels bound to the fortunes of a Jewish Israeli player in the NBA. Yes, we look up to Mandela and Pienaar, and to former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, the Congolese seven-footer who built a $29 million hospital in his hometown of Kinshasa and received Beyond Sport's Humanitarian in Sport Award. We will always look up, because as fans it's in our nature to do so.

But as human beings there's something else in our nature, which leads us to look around. Our eyes meet those of others, whom we engage as opponents, teammates, collaborators, neighbors and there-but-for-the-grace-of-God versions of ourselves. As Mutombo told the gathering in Chicago, quoting a proverb of his people: "When you take the elevator to the top, please remember to send it back down so someone else might use it."

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Here's a couple questions I daily wrestle with in light of Paul's words about Christ's model and passion for us to pursue the unselfish life in Philippians 2:1-11...I shared these with the women's volleyball team at a pre-game devotion this afternoon:

#1) Do I trust in what Christ has done on my behalf enough that I don’t have to be obsessed with proving to everyone else watching that I am popular, successful, and worthy of love?

#2) Do I trust in the principle that God will honor and lift me up in life if I choose to put someone else and their needs before my own?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Honoring A Former Player at a Soccer Game

Here's the text of something I shared yesterday as we honored those who have served our country...we loved wearing our special warm up shirts and sharing this day with one of our former players who is serving in Afghanistan right now...

Thanks for coming to the first home CU men’s soccer game of the 2011 season. We are excited for a great season ahead filled with lots of great soccer action on our home pitch. We are also excited today to honor a very special group of people at today's match. The men’s team is wearing special warm up camouflage shirts today to honor those who have and are currently serving our country as members of our military community. Written across the guys’ shirts is the team motto, the word Kopion, a Greek word that means working to the point of exhaustion for your cause and your team. There is no other group that embodies the Kopion spirit better than our armed forces as they protect and serve our nation and people around the world. The CU soccer team especially remembers and is grateful for the service of one of our former teammates and friends. Dan Kerstan was our starting goalkeeper who decided after his sophomore year to become an army ranger in the summer of 2010. Dan was one of the hardest working players in our program and was deeply involved in our team’s global service work in the Dominican Republic. Dan’s love for children and for justice in our world has led him to Afghanistan where he is currently stationed and is on the front lines in securing peace and safety and freedom for his fellow officers and the people of Afghanistan. We miss Dan every day but couldn't be prouder of what he is doing as our teammate and brother on our behalf. It is an unbelievable privilege and surprise to many of us to have Dan here today with us, as he is taking a bit of R and R time before returning to his post in Afghanistan later this month. Will you give him and all of our other military officers your thanks for their service with a round of applause? Thank you very much! Will you pray with me as we take a moment to pray for Dan and all those serving with him around the world today?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Student Leaders are Important by Doug Franklin

Here's a thought I resonate with from one of the leaders I respect deeply when it comes to engaging students and helping equip them for impact in our is especially interesting in light of Dave Kinnaman's new book coming out on the generation of Christian students that has left the church in their years following high school:

So much is being said about students dropping out of church. Many are leaving at the end of high school and not returning until their mid 20s or later. The question we as youth workers must ask is: “Why did they leave in the first place?” Believe me; I am not looking to place blame. I just want to know what is affecting these students and what our ministries can do to stop it from happening.

I believe the answer to “Why” is found in what students identify with. Do your students see their youth group as a ministry of the church to students or as the students’ ministry to the world? The question is an important one because it’s the difference between just attending and being owners. Owners don’t walk away. They have an investment, a stake in the goal.

Student ministries need to make owners of students.

Here's the link to Doug's Blog and this post:

Friday, September 9, 2011

How Not to Hate America After Missions By Curt Devine in REJECT APATHY

In about 10 days, we will kick off our annual Global Opportunities Week at CU...I love watching students get excited about joining God in His work around the world, and it is a major recruiting time for our spring and summer global mission/vision trips...I'm excited to take my first team over to Zambia...the impact of a trip like this is often life-altering...and yet there's often a huge tension coming back to the States...I appreciated these thoughts from the fantastic new website Reject Apathy below:

As I step into the church, bass booms against my chest. Neon lights reflect off the worship leader’s guitar as he sings, “There is no one like our God,” with an Auto-Tuned effect on his voice. I feel slightly uncomfortable. As the song builds, my friend turns to me and says: “Doesn’t this sound amazing? They just spent $300,000 on a new sound system.” I oddly laugh with a hint of anger. I’m now back in an American megachurch, yet I can’t help but think about the third-world churches I visited this year—the ones with one Bible, no electricity and a lot of passion. I think about the impoverished faces I met—the toothless street children in Nepal, the drug addicts in Kenya and the young prostitutes lining the streets of Thailand. I’m torn by the contrast. Even though I want to worship, I only feel bitterness.

Coming back to America after experiencing third-world missions is no easy process. I recently finished the World Race, an 11-month missions trip to 11 countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, and while I’ve loved being home with hot showers and cold air-conditioning, the transition has been rough. It’s so easy for me to judge friends when they drop $100 on a night out, thinking, “That could feed the homeless boy I met in Tanzania for a year,” or to think I’m better than the guy with a Lexus because my Grand Am is barely worth a grand.

Last week, a friend even told me she woke up crying every day when she returned from Africa because she couldn’t stand the wealth around her. While everyone coming off the missions field will struggle to different degrees, none of us should become bitter, America-hating cynics. Here are a few reasons why.

Abundance is not a bad thing
The first day I woke up in my own bed after coming home, I decided to go to the grocery store for some breakfast. I found myself in the cereal aisle reliving the scene from The Hurt Locker, staring at an endless array of General Mills cartoons staring back at me. I’d forgotten America is a land of excess. We can choose from more than 50 types of deodorant, 115 kinds of toothpaste and now 1,000 channels on TV.

This conflict between excess at home and scarcity abroad can be a lot to handle. The temptation will always be to either hate the abundance of America, judging your community for its consumption, or to forget the poverty abroad and go back to the way you lived before your trip. The key is to live within the tension. As Christy Vidrine says in her book Unearth, “There is a balance between the humility of scarcity and the peace within excess.”

James the brother of Jesus writes that every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, meaning every good thing we have is from God. Therefore, the first response we should have to the excess around us should be one of thankfulness. God has given us food, water, shopping malls, restaurants and Venti Mocha Frappuccinos even though we don’t deserve them.

Our second response should be wise stewardship. I recently overheard a friend saying she has a closet overflowing with clothes, yet she complains she has nothing to wear. This reminded me of Jesus’ parable of the 10 minas, where a ruler gives 10 minas (large amounts of money) to his servants to steward. Some make wise investments and use the money well, while one servant hides his share in the ground. The master returns and reprimands this servant for doing nothing. In turn, if we have full closets, stocked refrigerators or fat bank accounts, we should look for wise opportunities to give those things to others and encourage our friends and families to do the same.

Maybe the reason God has allowed us to live in abundance is so we can be a blessing to those who don’t. If we live within the tension of American excess and global poverty, we can respond with thankfulness and generosity, thanking God for what we have and giving much of it away to those in need. In this way, abundance is a gift.
God is the same—there and here

When my team did ministry in Iringa, Tanzania, we partnered with a young teacher named Peter who seemed a little overexcited about America. He told us: “Wow, I’m so happy to be with a team from the U.S.A. I love American churches. I love American books. One day I will go to America and learn so much about God!”
I stared at him in disbelief, thinking, Does he really think America has more of God than Africa? I told him most of my friends couldn’t wait to come to Africa to experience more of God’s presence. He didn’t understand.

The truth is, we are all guilty of thinking the grass is greener on the other side. The misconception most of us buy into says that community, miracles and true passion only exist in the third world. On the other hand, much of the third world falsely believes effective ministry only happens with lots of money and high-tech resources. Jesus says something completely different. In Luke 17, he teaches His disciples not to listen to people who say, “Here it is” or, “There it is,” referring to the Kingdom of Heaven. Rather, He says, “The kingdom of God is in your midst,” meaning that experiencing God’s presence has nothing to do with where you are and everything to do with how you live with those around you.

I’ve had friends tell me America is different from other countries because of rampant consumerism and selfishness, however, the truth is, every country has its struggles and poses unique problems for those seeking God. In Ukraine, alcoholism runs rampant. In Thailand, the sex industry plagues hundreds of thousands. In Tanzania, theft and crime create serious problems. Every country uniquely needs God’s grace, but the good news is that He faithfully pours it out on those who seek them, no matter the place or time.

New chapters bring new opportunities
Honestly, I do miss the World Race. I miss my community of friends. I miss the adventure of not knowing what next month will bring. I crave those raw experiences with God, yet I have to trust that new seasons in life bring new opportunities for living and loving well. Whether you’ve recently experienced third-world poverty or you simply want a change in your life, the great thing is that none of us have to sink back into the empty routines we used to live in.

Here are a few helpful questions to ask yourself:
•If you had all the time, money and resources to make an impact on the world, what would you do?
•Now, with the limited resources and relationships you do have, what impact can you have on your local community? Or, what small steps can you make toward making a global change in the future?

America is not your enemy; it’s another opportunity. You don’t have to wait until your next short-term missions trip to experience God and share His love with others. Take the lessons and experiences you loved from your trip and reapply them to your dorm room, church or neighborhood. The adventure isn’t over.

Here's the link to this article:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Here's a good read from the recently released first issue of REJECT APATHY...a great resource I gave to all our new students at CU during orientation...

There's always been tension between doing good deeds and sharing the Good News.

The underground railroad was a social justice movement that led thousands to freedom long before slavery was abolished. Organized primarily by Quakers, white evangelicals and black churches, many risked everything to host and care for the runaway slaves, working together to answer a truly biblical call.

The same call heard now.

Social justice is a complex subject for Christians. No one can disagree that Scripture commands to love the poor and oppressed, but what that looks like practically today is largely debated and at times ignored. As the world becomes increasingly more globalized and information more accessible, awareness along with responsibility has grown.

This responsibility comes multiple fold. Why, how and even if we combine social justice with evangelism is an ever-evolving discussion that must be considered from a local and global level. Both the individual and the church must play a role for the Body to have the impact Scripture intended—an impact we’re capable of but nowhere near.

The Two Sides of Holistic Ministry

Dr. Ron Sider, a professor of theology and author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, doesn’t believe structural change is complete without sharing the Gospel. Referring to the active combination of word and deed as “holistic ministry,” Sider says that without social works, evangelism appears to be all talk. But without sharing the hope and good news of the Gospel, ministry lacks the Holy Spirit’s transformative power. Neither side of social justice ministry is complete without the other.

“People are both spiritual and material beings,” Sider says. “Addressing only half the problem only gives you half of the solution.”

This doesn’t mean the Gospel should be forced, Sider says. Offering to pray for those being ministered to or sharing evangelism through friendship can reveal Christ—without giving the impression that the material items given to them come from a place of self-righteousness or have strings attached.

“Each of us has contributed to the pain and suffering and decay in the world,” Sider writes in an essay on holistic ministry. “We thus serve with a posture of gratitude and humility, acknowledging our own brokenness before the cross. We recognize that ministering Christ’s wholeness to others is part of what makes us whole.”

But ministering the wholeness of Christ comes with a cost. With the average churchgoing Christian giving less than 3 percent of their income, the Church is lacking the necessary resources to make the changes the Gospel demands. Most Christians, Sider says, could afford to give 10 to 20 percent. And that disparity could mean a world of difference.

“We’re doing significant things, but the amount is pitiable. If Christians were giving what they are called to, we could vastly increase change,” he says. “We know how to reduce poverty—it’s just a matter of resources.”

The problem could possibly be starting from the pulpit. Fewer than one in 50 preachers stress responsibility to the poor as much as the Bible does, Sider says.

“God has a special concern for the poor, there’s no question about it,” he says. “If you don’t care for the poor and oppressed folk, then you’re not a biblical Christian.”

The Collaboration of Callings

One person whose life’s work is to care for the poor is Shane Claiborne. The Kingdom isn’t something Claiborne hopes for when he dies—it’s something he’s building now.

As a hands-on social justice activist, the author and Simple Way founder believes solutions must begin with relationship. Person-to-person contact is what will eventually lead toward reconciliation between the oppressor and the oppressed.

“It’s tempting to have virtual movements without roots on the ground,” he says of today’s society. “It’s often easier to care about the invisible children more than those right next to us. But without the relationship, it’s like eating virtual food: You end up starving.”

Acknowledging the call on each Christian’s life to be active in social justice, Claiborne believes much of the beauty of God’s plan is in the combined roles each individual can take, based on their own unique calling.

Claiborne references something the famous writer and theologian Frederick Buechner said about calling: “You have to ask yourself, ‘Where do my greatest gifts intersect with the world’s greatest need?’”

Changing How We Make a Change

Living in a community that cares for those nearest them, prays together, eats together and shares a love for God’s people has given new monastics like Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove—an author, speaker and minister—a glimpse of what it looks like when people stop building walls and start building bridges. The emphasis on community is key. Although it’s necessary at times, individual activism, Wilson-Hartgrove says, can sell Jesus’ original intentions for the Church short.

“The Church is Jesus’ plan for saving the world—which includes redeeming its broken social structures,” he says. “A conscientious objector to war is one thing, but a community of people who live peaceably together and do not return evil for evil is a more powerful witness, I think.”

In agreement with Sider, Wilson-Hartgrove believes social justice and structural justice cannot be separated when introducing God’s just order.

“Jesus doesn’t start a popular movement to take Jerusalem or Rome and institute God’s new order,” he says. “We’re practicing social justice when we invite friends into relationships of economic sharing. We’re practicing it when we live as communities of hospitality to those who are homeless. Jesus says the Kingdom is here—right here, right now—and you can begin living it.”

If the Kingdom is indeed here and now, then so must be the effort to increase the effectiveness of the Christian response to social justice crimes in the world today. For significant and lasting change, the solution must address the structures, it must have a long-term goal and it must always be a face, not a number. Whether giving shelter to people who need it, like those along the Underground Railroad years ago, or befriending the homeless in our city, that face must be His who called us in the first place.

Here's the LINK: