"Me? A soccer coach?"
Despite physical disablity, Pastor Gloh is a successful Sports Friends soccer coach. Photos by Tawil Tesnaowanit.
Pastor Gloh chuckled to himself as he recalled his feeble gait and weak legs.
He was one of many victims of poliomyelitis, the notorious viral infection that had paralysed millions of children around the world and was only eradicated from Thailand in 1997.
Limping through the sticky heat of his hometown in Ratchaburi, just west of Bangkok, Thailand, Gloh considered the impossibility in suggesting a crippled pastor begin a sports ministry. “It would be too difficult,” he decided.
However, Gloh has a persistent friend and fellow pastor, Toowa, who encouraged him. They were both eager to attract children and young people to come to church. In a predominantly Buddhist nation, relatively few children grow up hearing about the life and words of Jesus.
Pastor Toowa persuaded Gloh, and they offered God their “yes” to serve in a non-conventional way. Sports, they realised, had a unique ability to connect them with young people who would not typically be interested in the church. Even though neither man could physically play soccer, they decided to learn how to coach.
Training with SIM’s Sports Friends filled the two men with confidence and equipped them to establish a sports ministry. Many onlookers doubted Pastor Gloh’s ability to succeed, and many young people were not interested in having a “disabled” coach. However, a group of 9- to 12-year-olds wanted to play and had no one else to help them, so they came.
Pastor Gloh poured his heart into this new branch of ministry, into those boys. He found he could instruct even what he could not perform; he simply coached according to the training he had received. He didn’t mind that the young people could kick better than he could, he would effectively build relationship with them and show them the love of Christ.
Soon, the village leader and local municipality were encouraging and supporting Gloh in the sports ministry. They saw the benefit it offered the community’s children. Several of the youth on his team were previously short-tempered, aggressive, and badly behaved. They would antagonise people they didn’t like and complain about everything. The more time they spent with Pastor Gloh, the more they learned about Jesus and His ways for living. Some of the worst-behaved boys were becoming leaders to their peers; even mentoring others on the team. The transformation was remarkable!
Expanding Gloh’s Impact
Since he began, God has expanded Gloh’s impact, faithfully providing for His work by meeting both material needs and sending helpers. And, as always, His blessings are multiplied in many directions. Two young men have come to work with Pastor Gloh and show the boys the love of Christ.
One of these new coaches is a recent graduate of Bangkok Institute of Technology; he inspires the boys to grow into respectable men and reach their potential. Another works in the city, but returns to the village to be with Pastor Gloh and teach alongside him.
“I thank the Lord for Pastor Gloh,” he says. “Both of my parents are deceased. It was part of God’s plan to help me know Him. If I didn’t meet Pastor Gloh, I might have wasted my life drifting around aimlessly. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. Now I return home and help with the sports ministry.”
No matter how many times we see God transform lives and communities through sports ministry, we are always amazed and moved to worship. He is so kind, serving overlooked children, connecting lonely men and women with His family and purpose, empowering the weak of the world to build an eternal kingdom.
He doesn’t only meet our needs, He multiplies our joy.
•Give thanks that God uses the most unlikely of people to transform lives and communities with the gospel
•Ask that sports ministries like Pastor Gloh’s would flourish and see fruit all around the world
•Ask that Sports Friends’ summer fundraising would hit their target of US$180,000 for ongoing ministry
Could you join Sports Friends in training and equipping more coaches like Gloh to bear witness to the presence and love of God in their communities?
This summer, we’re hoping to raise $180,000 to support Sports Friends’ ongoing ministry and bring the truth of the gospel to thousands of young people, their families, and their communities.
Thanks to a matching grant, your gift will double, up to $60,000, to impact twice as many youth and their families.
Be part of our most important match this season! www.sports-friends.org/give