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As we embark on another basketball mission trip to Brazil May 16-27, here’s a testimony from one of Sports Reach’s first basketball mission trips to Brazil! Pastor Nilson, who will be with us on this trip, was a part of this early one nearly 30 years ago!

When God Changes Plans

“30 years ago, I was approached by my pastor saying that we needed to put together a men’s basketball team from one day to the next to face an American basketball team that was coming from Kentucky. A professional team from São Paulo was supposed to face the American team in a friendly game, but they canceled at the last minute. As the event had been widely publicized, we had to provide a replacement team urgently. In our Church there was only one young man who played basketball, the rest played volleyball and football. So we had the idea of ​​inviting non-Christian friends who could join our team. I invited a childhood friend and the other young people from the Church also invited their friends who had a lot of experience with street or garage basketball. None of us were really athletes. The next day, we entered the gym and passed the North American athletes “with our faces up and our noses in the air” because we had to look up because the smallest of them seemed to be two meters tall, and our average height was one meter and seventy. Before the game, we had a meeting, and the Americans said: we’ll let you play a little in the first two quarters, then we’ll show you what we came to do in Brazil, and that way, we’ll cheer up the fans. The game was fantastic. We had a big advantage. One of our young men from the Church was about five feet tall, and this allowed him to dribble around the big Americans who couldn’t catch up to him because of his speed. The problem is that no matter how close we got to the table, our baskets didn’t go in. I suspect it’s because of the height of the opponents. The game ended, and the fans who filled the stands gave a standing ovation for demonstrating our weakness against a great opponent. But the best is yet to come. We sat on the court, and two Sports Reach athletes spoke about their careers as basketball athletes, highlighting at the end that, despite loving basketball, their first passion was Jesus. Then, used by the Holy Spirit, they shared God’s love with all those young people who were invited to play on our team, and that night, they stood up and gave their lives to Jesus. My childhood friend was the first to give his life to Jesus. When we returned home, we realized what God had done that night. It was no surprise that the professional team canceled their presence. God had a much greater plan and purpose. Basketball, just like anything else we enjoy, cannot be more important than Jesus in our lives. Ten years later, my childhood friend passed away suddenly, but I felt peace in my heart because he heard about eternal salvation in Christ Jesus through basketball and the Sports Reach ministry. When God changes plans, we don’t need to be afraid, we need to obey and surrender completely to Him.”

Pastor Nilson Dias

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