Children and adults alike gain confidence by participating in sports. And they learn how to be a part of a team. Sports give them a stronger sense of community and teach them to be bold. It has long been recognized that athletics can keep young people from making bad choices in life. But can they push them toward the good ones?
It’s striking how Biblical values are perfectly applicable in sports. Respect, integrity, sacrifice, accountability – they may sound disconnected. But without them, you cannot build a team or fair competition.
A group of believers in Israel is teaching youth and adults to be better friends, fathers and members of the society in a unique way. They train them to be courageous and to protect by the way of martial arts and through sports ethics.
Sportsmanship in Israel
Israelis love to stay active, and martial arts are especially popular. The famous self-defense system called Krav Maga was developed specifically for the Israeli defense and security forces. Often taught by Israeli instructors, today it is one of the most effective fighting techniques worldwide.
What’s interesting, its main principles are: to avoid physical confrontation if possible, and if not, to finish the fight as quickly as possible. Taught by professional, certified coaches, the students learn about defense. But also, they learn about identity, family and relationships.
The young generation of Israelis is struggling with a lot of pressures in today’s world and they lack role models. In a world that undermines anything traditional, they are hungry for authenticity. And here, they find fighters who represent more than just strength. They exemplify how to control as well as answer for one’s actions and words.
Building Character through Sports
The heart behind the training goes beyond effective physical skills. It encourages character development and heart transformation. We see monumental events throughout Scripture where God uses ordinary people to fulfill His promises. We are living in a moment like that today!
This believing group of trainers exemplify not just power. They show that true strength means being ready to sacrifice, to ask for forgiveness, and to forgive. They teach that a true warrior stays humble and is a peacemaker.
In sports, a team often becomes like a family to young people. They trust their coaches and look up to them. The role of a good trainer can have an impact on a person’s entire life. Competitions and teamwork give young adults a sense of belonging and trust. Being part of a team means being a part of a family. And this family shows them a loving God, a great God who deserves all honor and awe.
The head coach emphasizes that first and foremost, they “need people to reach people.” Their licensed trainers have been authorized to work even over the past year, since they train professionals. But everyone was hit hard in 2020. With less students, they had less income for salaries.
It is humbling to know that in spite of that, the coaches never gave up on their teams. Over the past several months, they called the students to check on them. They organized seminars on sportsmanship and invited recognized athletes and psychologists to built up their morale. They even held occasional trainings online.
Christians, just like you, are partnering with local believers, like these professional coaches, to see people of Israel know their Messiah. Many students have come to faith through personal discipleship efforts. We want to invest in godly role models who will shape the young generation of Israel.
This article originally appeared on FIRM, February 18, 2021, and reposted with permission.