In Athens, basketball player gains new vision for her sport

ATHENS (BP)--A senior on the Louisiana College women’s basketball team, Kim Reed has been a regular on the court since she was 5. But it’s only in the past year that she developed an appreciation for the sport’s eternal significance.

After accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior in September 2003, Reed is on her first mission trip, spending the summer in Athens as a volunteer with the Atlanta-based International Sports Federation.

“Basketball has always been in my vision,” said Reed, a 5-foot-3-inch guard from native of Bossier City, La., who attends Calvary Baptist Church in Pineville. “But I didn’t see the potential for [using it for] the Gospel before ISF. Basketball is a tool. People are just drawn to it.”

Reed is among the 1,500-plus volunteers dispatched on more than 200 projects since ISF’s founding in 1993, usually involving sports-related clinics and other ventures in tandem with International Mission Board missionaries in more than 40 countries on six continents.

Reed got her first taste of the value of sports clinics June 12-22 in Greece, when she was part of a 19-member team leading soccer, volleyball and basketball clinics.

Even though many of the children who came couldn’t speak English, the games “connected” them, Reed said.

In addition to playing sports, the volunteers led other games, served snacks, sang and presented faith-oriented skits; the last night, Louisiana College women’s basketball coach Tonya McIntosh spoke.

The college team members also distributed numerous copies of a five-by-seven-inch card with a team photo and the plan of salvation on the back.

“They wanted the cards because they wanted our autographs,” Reed said. “That last night was powerful. Afterwards, we went off and talked to people, one-on-one.”

The camp also led to long-lasting relationships with 10 girls from the area. Reed and other ISF volunteers have gone to movies, the beach and bowling, and been invited to the girls’ homes for dinner.

The young women have visited the evangelical church where they are staying several times; Reed and another volunteer have been discipling one girl who has found faith in Christ.

“She’s so hungry,” Reed said. “You can’t talk to youth without a permit. You cannot give minors a Bible without the permission of their parents. We prayed about it and [the other volunteer] had an opportunity ... to talk to her mom. She was OK with it, so the next time I gave the girl her first Bible.”

Because of strong family ties, a relationship with one person in Greece becomes a relationship with the whole family, Reed said.

In addition to making friends with non-believers, she recently met a Pentecostal family who “love Jesus. When we go to their home they have worship on TV all the time.”

Recently, she and another volunteer took the girls from that family to an island because they had never been to one despite living close by.

This relationship reflects the fact that in recent weeks they have been meeting an increasing number of Christians, which has encouraged them, Reed said.

Still, she is ready for more outreach.

“In the relationships I’ve already built with the [Greeks] who will be going to the Olympics, I know there’s going to be [witnessing] opportunities there,” Reed said. “God’s been getting things ready. I think something big’s going to happen with the people I’ve already been with.”

God already has been at work, she added, touching people through volunteers who have been reaching out through such projects as:

-- distributing packets containing such items as a history of the Olympics, the story of the Apostle Paul’s journey in Greek and a copy of the “JESUS” video.

-- cleaning up trash at various Olympic venues.

-- painting refugee houses and an apartment complex that will be occupied by ministry volunteers who plan to work with prostitutes (prostitution is legal in Greece, Reed said).

-- a team from Canada has been presenting street dramas and mime.

Because of tight security related to the fear of possible terrorist attacks, Reed believes that God is getting ready to get people’s attention on a widespread scale to draw them to Himself.

“I have a peace about it,” Reed said. “Our prayer is that the ... athletes and everyone can realize those medals and everything they strive for really doesn’t matter. I hope they will understand eternal matters.

“I hope all our hearts are prepared,” Reed said of the Christian volunteers and missionaries in Athens. “It’s a great opportunity. The whole world’s coming.”


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