Can I say that? I'm a ministry founder and director... am I supposed to admit I haven't been to church? Why didn't I go?
First, a 2 week Christian tennis mission trip to reach 70,000+ in Memphis. Then, a 3.5 week Christian tennis mission trip to reach 300,000+ in Indian Wells, California. Throw in long car rides, flights on Delta, a junior tournament or two....
One of the most difficult aspects to being a full time missionary and ministry director is I do lots of traveling. Thus, I can't attend my church like I'd like.
The International Christian Tennis Association takes a bunch of time, energy, focus, and determination. Even though I'm involved in ministry 24/7, I am usually the one ministering to others, thus I miss out of church!
Well, I'll be there tomorrow! Easter Sunday is special. Christ's resurrection radically changed everything. The old is gone and the new begins. For everyone reading this blog, you can begin new as well!
My church is up around Jacksonville, Florida. I love attending and have felt at home since Day 1. A long time friend is a pastor there. One thing I really enjoy about this church is how welcoming the congregation is.
In fact, upon arrival everyone receives lots of friendly smiles and handshakes. Everyone also enjoys fresh pastries & delicious bagels, Starbucks coffee and specialty teas, fresh orange juice and apple juice... you can even bring your hot coffee in to the church service without receiving dirty looks!
The pastor loves to preach and is skilled at making God's word make sense. The music minister is skilled as well, even having done the junior camp circuits.
That said, my whole tennis academy loves the church as well!
Sometimes, as a full time missionary, I have a difficult time visiting churches where faith is forgotten and Jesus is simply a word. My church really loves to walk in faith and I look forward to Sundays.
And I'm really excited about the Easter Service.
A few ministry notes to catch you up to date...
*The main International Christian Tennis Association Women's Pro Tennis Team roster has filled up for the summer. 6 tremendous tennis missionaries will hit the ITF pro circuit competing for their countries and sharing their faith. Tournaments are scheduled for USA and Mexico. Possibility for Japan & Europe. I may begin a 2nd team as this program is wildly successful and demand is high.
*I've been in wonderful talks with a person who could be a Christian tennis chaplain on the WTA and ATP tours. He has a heart for players and a love for Jesus, 10+ years of chaplain experience, decades of tennis experience, and contacts & relationships with among the most famous people in tennis.
*A Christian tennis chaplain credentialing process is in the works at the genesis stages to take to both the ATP and WTA Tours for approval. Led by an ICTA member who is also a PHD University professor, talks have began not only to provide tennis chaplaincy certification, but also to provide a Seminary Masters or Doctorate Degree in Sports Chaplaincy.
*The International Christian Tennis Association Women's Pro Tennis Team is back from their mission trip to Birmingham, Alabama where they competed in an ITF $25,000 tournament. The team worked smoothly together sharing their faith and offering support to players. They hit with and developed friendships with about a dozen WTA ranked players, one near 200 WTA. One player they met stayed with the team at David Nasser's, www.davidnasser.com or www.gloryrevealed.com, house. The Nasser's are special people and the girls were so cared for.
*I've lost the 7lbs of belly I gained while on the road for a couple of months! :) As I plan to preach a lot this summer, I'm working to get back into shape so I can fit into my clothes a bit better. I've enjoyed being home and getting back into a normal schedule.
*Summer camps are shaping up! With 12 students this summer at my Christian tennis academy, I am looking forward to the excitement of challenging my students to dive deeper into Christ while learning to make others 1st. Plus, we'll hit balls twice daily, get the darkest tans in Florida, travel to junior tournaments for mission trips on the weekends, engage in ping-pong wars, and eat like Vikings! Did I mention our untouched beaches!!?
**And last but not at all least... CONGRATULATIONS go to our own Rachel Snelen for becoming one of America's top 100 WTA ranked professional tennis players. According to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's 2007 Official Guide To Professional Tennis, Rachel comes in right at #100!
From the advanced beginner level of junior tennis (Champs/Texas) in 1999 to one of the top 100 WTA players in America! Rachel Snelen is a special person with a heart to reach players with the Gospel. It is amazing how she can handle balancing her full time+ job with ICTA and her missionary travel as the Captain & leader of an entire pro tennis team while competing on the pro tour and leading people to Christ. Great job, Rach! Your friends are so proud of the life you have chosen.
I guess that's about all for now. I don't really have time to mention my plans for building our tennis facility, our tennis tour to the US OPEN, the 2008 ICTA Conference to be held during the Pacific Life Open, or my upcoming book. So, I'll save that stuff for later!
Until we meet again, know I do have you in my prayers. Friends & enemies, I pray for you all. The life we live is simply a training ground for what is to come. I thank God for each of you. My life is so blessed and I know where the blessings come from.
There has been no greater event in history than the defeat Jesus gave death the moment he was resurrected. I thank God for my life and for my hope in Him. I can't imagine what I would do if I had no hope.
International Christian Tennis Association
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