“Breaking Free” – 2013 A2E Sports Camp5 min read

“Is it time yet?” asked the enthusiastic child.

“No son, it is just 2 p.m.” replied his foster mother.

“Are you SURE it’s not time to go?” he countered.

This youngster was so excited by his experience at A2E sports camp that he couldn’t wait for 5:00 p.m. His foster mother shared that he and his siblings would awake early, dress in their green camp shirt, and wait eagerly for another evening of sports camp.

Encouragement is Oxygen to the Soul1

The week of August 12-16, the Acts 2 Enterprise Sports Camp Team sought, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to encourage the 100+ kids (ages 7-17) and their parents with the hope that comes through Jesus Christ. That hope, in the form of joy and excitement, was apparent throughout the week’s activities.


Encouragement came in many unique forms including the theme of the week “Breaking Free” and was reinforced with five topics: Self-Doubt, Lying, Bad Choices, Selfishness, and Fear. Each day campers learned and shouted back key words of Hebrews 12:1-2“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NIV). By the last day of camp, they recited the entire Bible verse from memory.

Undertaking Love


Volunteers from city and suburban churches served side-by-side in various roles. They greeted families, registered campers, served a healthy meal, led the kids in God’s Word and prayer, and taught sporting skills (golf, basketball, lacrosse, martial arts, soccer, and flag football). But most of all, these servants put God’s tender love into action as they cared for these children in a safe, loving environment that is often rare in the city of Detroit.


Huddle Coach Amanda Lund recounts, “It really touched me when the kids began realizing that I care, return the next day, and greet them by name. Their faces light up and they’re like, ‘Amanda, you’re here!’ I think they’re really beginning to buy into all of us, that we’re here because we love them and care for them.”


Paul Knickelbein, Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) student from Cross & Resurrection, Ypsilanti and leader of UPWARD Sports in Washtenaw County, helped keep the event on track as he organized the movement of the campers from one sport to the next.

He shares his thoughts on what this camp means for Detroit, “There’s so much hopelessness now, with the bankruptcy and all the businesses that are leaving, but there can be hope. The greater hope isn’t just in the financial situation and it’s not in the stuff that’s happening in the business world. The hope is in knowing the Jesus Christ died on the cross for you, and we can share that love just by loving on the kids and caring about the neighborhood. Through this sports camp we shared ‘We love you and Jesus loves you.’”


One volunteer, Nicky Nguyen, was treasured by the kids for his boundless energy and martial arts skills. He shares, “The kids ran across the field yelling, ‘Sensei Nicki, Sensei Nicki!’ and gave me a big bear hug.” Nguyen taught self-defense and how the kids could get out of tough situations without violence.

Why a Sports Camp?

Rev. Christopher Bodley, missionary-at-large for A2E and pastor of Bethany, Detroit states, “This sports camp isan attempt to connect the youth of the community, one, to sports activities, but also to Jesus Christ. We are using sports in order to build a bridge, a relationship. We know in the summertime that everyone is busy. Parents want their children to be active, but often times they’re busy working, sometimes two jobs. This whole week has been really geared toward representing Jesus Christ in a great way, connecting on a different level, and beginning to build long-term relationships.”


He continues, “This is just the beginning. I’m hoping that through the sports camp, we begin to build authenticity with the residents, to build trust so that we can continue to talk to them about Jesus Christ and ultimately, that through our witness, they may be drawn to Him and to a relationship with Him. There are other ways, and the sports camp is just one. A2E will continue to explore other strategies through economic development, computer literacy, and education. As we continue to expand into other areas of ministry, people will see that it’s not that hard. It’s been done, and together, we can do a whole lot.”

The Presence of the Lord and His Church


Each camper was sponsored by a donor through the Michigan District’s 2013 Spring Appeal. Expenses for the week were completely covered, including a visit from pro lacrosse athletes, Shamel and Rhamel Bratton.

Congregations and individuals confidently and courageously came together in prayer the week before, during, and immediately following the camp using the prayer matrix developed by Bodley. Throughout the week, it was apparent that prayers were answered!

“Lord Jesus, you who are the God of all grace, may you continue to bless each and every individual and family to experience continued grace in their homes. We thank you that you have promised that you are able to make all grace abound toward us, so that in all things, at all times having all that we need, we may abound in every good work.

“We thank you for using so many to make a big difference in so many people’s lives. In Jesus name. Amen.” – portion of the Thanksgiving Prayer for August 18, 2013.

1attributed to George M. Adams 1837 – 1920 US Representative from Kentucky 

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About the Author

Debby Fall serves as Assistant to the President - Communications for the Michigan District, LCMS.

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