As I was reading over Nathan's Sponsored Cause Highlight post I began to feel the need to give you all a little insight into what motivated me to start this organization and what drives our staff's passion to change the world through sports.
Before I dive to deep I also feel the need to stress that what motivates and drives me does not need to be what motivates and drives you for us to partner together. As long as you are passionate about sports and using them to effect positive change on the world you are always welcome as part of the Play For More family. I want you to play for whatever causes mean the most to you and for whatever reasons move your heart.
As Nathan stated in his post, here at PFM we are unashamedly motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ. Again we promise not to get preachy nor do we expect you to share this motivation to be a part of the PFM team. However we are also not going to hide that it is the core of why we do what we do.
I believe that the message of Jesus is real. Humanity is broken and separated from God through our sin in a way that no amount religion or good works could ever repair. But God in his infinite love and grace desires a relationship with us and so he provided a way for us to be redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. His resurrection solidifies that he was who he claimed to be.
I believe that God is not a God who wants to force you to get your act together through fear and judgement but a God who through love and mercy wants you to live your best most fulfilling life both here on earth and into eternity through an intimate relationship with him.
Again I don't want to get to preachy but if you want to talk about this more please feel free to contact us at email@example.com and I would love to personally discuss my beliefs more in depth with you.
So with all that said, Play For More was born out of my desire to live out my faith and follow the path that I believe God is calling me to. You can read more about my personal journey to this point here but sports have always been an important part of my life that I've poured my heart and soul into.
Colossians 3 says that as a follower of Jesus everything you do should be done with all your heart and for his glory so I started looking for ways to combine my passion for sports with my faith.
As I began to work out what that looked like for me I felt God impressing on my heart that I should find a way to bring others along this journey with me. One person channeling their passion for sports into a desire to do more could make a small impact on the world but a team of a dozen, a hundred or thousands could start to actually get some things done and begin to solve worlds biggest problems.
For many people that is part of the draw of competitive sports in the first place. The desire to be part of a team or a community of other athletes striving to accomplish a common goal and pushing each other to achieve what we didn't think was possible. Even in individual sports it often takes others providing healthy spirited competition to draw out the best in us.
That is what I want to create through Play For More. A community of athletes who inspire and encourage each other towards a common goal. But that goal isn't simply to win, be a better athlete or achieve some personal goal but rather to feed hungry people, cure cancer, ensure everyone has clean water, save the environment, end poverty, abolish slavery or whatever cause they rally behind.
Those are all daunting tasks when viewed as an individual but just like a great team can do more than each athlete could do alone if we can unite the millions of athletes around the world behind solving these problems we can make it happen!
So what problems or causes do I play for? Nathan did a great job outlining the criteria we used to choose our Sponsored Causes in his post but I wanted to go a little deeper on why those criteria are important to me.
To recap his post we will work with organizations who work to accomplish at least one (preferably 2 or more) or the following:
1. Spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and expanding the Kingdom of God here on Earth
2. Sustainably uplifting the poor
3. Freeing the oppressed and the exploited
4. Promoting physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing
First and foremost, as I stated above, I am unashamedly motivated by my faith in Christ and I strongly prefer to work with organizations that share those beliefs. While I want to make an impact in this world and on lives of people here and now, all that would be for nothing if we are not also concerned about their eternal destination and neglect to share the Gospel with them. I don't want to just meet physical needs. I want to save souls.
Romans 10 says:
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?
If I really believe that following Jesus is the only way to secure your eternity why would I deprive someone of the opportunity to hear that message?
As I said before you don't need to share this motivation to be a part of our team, but as an organization we will always be in the business of spreading the Gospel of Christ.
That being said I also want our Sponsored Causes to be organizations that everyone can feel good about supporting whether they share our Christian convictions or not. So while I strongly prefer to work with faith based charities (though being faith based is not a requirement) it will always be those organizations that are also accomplishing significant social good and share the Gospel as a part of that work.
The last 3 criteria reflect the type of charitable work we want to support. As Nate and I have both said already we always want our partner athletes to support causes that are close to their heart and there are countless great organizations doing very important work that don't fit within our criteria. We see the value in organizations that are trying to cure cancer, save the environment, influence the world through politics, etc and if that is your passion please support those organizations. These criteria are simply what moves our hearts as a staff and let me show you why.
Throughout the Bible we see a consistent message that God cares for the poor, the sick and the oppressed and that he rewards those who seek to help them and in the long term punishes those who ignore or oppress them.
Isaiah 58 says:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned, lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from those who need your help.
Then your salvation will come like the dawn.
And James 1 puts it more simply:
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows.
These are just a 2 of many passages that echo this truth. So as we strive to live out God's will for this organization we will always strive to serve those people God cares deeply for. We will always hold up the cause of those trapped in systematic oppression and poverty. We will always speak up for those who don't have their own voice. The organizations we support will be those that work to sustainably bring people up out of their circumstances and give them the tools provide a greater quality of life for themselves.
It is important for us that the solutions provided by the organizations we support are sustainable, long lasting solutions. We want to provide people in poverty and difficult life situations a "hand up" to rise above their circumstances rather than a "hand out" to get them through the day. The second is a good thing to do and there are times when it is certainly necessary. We see value in emergency relief efforts and any work that provides for people in need. We simply desire for our resources to be focused in directions that create lasting change.
Rapha House is a perfect example of our ideal organization to work with. They work to rescue children who are being trafficked, particularly those being held in sexual slavery, all over the world but focused in South East Asia. They not only work to get victims out of slavery but provide for them in a network of safe houses while they transition back into civilian life. While they are in the safe house, not only are their physical needs met but they receive personalized trauma counseling to heal the mental and emotional scars they have experienced. Through this process they are introduced to the message of Jesus through whom they can experience true spiritual healing, though conversion is never required to receive their services. Going even beyond that they are provided with opportunities for vocational training so that when they leave Rapha House they are able to find work and provide for themselves and their families.
All of our Sponsored Causes are similarly working towards our organizational goals and we couldn't be more excited about the group of charities we are launching with!
I hope this post has given you a little more insight into my heart for what we are doing here at Play For More. We hope that you will partner with us in changing the world through the power of sports!
And always feel free to leave and questions or comments below and I will do my best to respond to them!