When I meet someone new, the first question I usually hear after "what's your name?" and "where are you from?" is "Why would you leave America to come here?!"
If I'm with some friends, they laugh because they've heard this asked so many times. However, the fact that it happens over and over again shows me that it is a common thought from locals about what life is like here verses the perceived idea about what America has to offer.
My response in Arabic is "Ah-shan-ku!" which means "because of you!" I came back because of my appreciation and love for the people here as well as trusting that God can use me in ways to help the local church and community. I've been given opportunities to work with youth in Nazareth through sports, activities, and weekly meetings all with the purpose of developing good relationships and encouraging them in their faith. Furthermore, whenever there is an chance to serve the local community, I am there to help and be part of the team...whether it is at a camp, on a school field trip, or volunteering with local ministries. For me, this is a worthwhile purpose to give my time and energy to.
One relationship that has meant a lot is with a 9th grader from the Nazareth Baptist School. We developed a friendship through soccer/football activities at school and as I saw he was talented, I invited him to come train with the club team I coach. This led to me driving him to and from practice, sharing more time together and talking about life. He also started to come to the weekly ministry meetings with some of his friends where we play games, sing songs, and talk about who Jesus is and why that matters. It is a relationship that has meant a lot to me as I've never been a "big brother" but sort of begun to assume that role in his life.
Feel free to connect with me if you want to hear more about what is going on in Nazareth! After 6 months of being back and developing new relationships locally, I am working on a business plan to share with churches and local ministries about how Sports Ministry could be a tool they can use to reach more youth. Please pray that God will provide people who see the potential of what I'm offering and want to join the team!
He is Risen! Something we can remember every day (: