Stacey Hamby/contributing writer
HOLTS SUMMIT – Growing up in rural Mississippi in the 1950s and 60s, Bobby Shows of Union Hill Baptist Church in Holts Summit never could have dreamed God would use his love of sports to spread the gospel throughout the nation and the world. After leading him into a career in sports ministry in churches from Mississippi to Arkansas to Missouri, Shows founded Sports Crusaders – a ministry that shares Christ through sports camps – and launched the first sports camps in the summer of 1994. This month, Sports Crusaders is celebrating 20 years of changed lives May 31 at First Baptist Church, Raytown.
“We’re excited to invite all of our alumni, churches, supporters and friends to celebrate this milestone with us,” said Tricia Alberts, Sports Crusaders executive director, noting the family-friendly event features a meet and greet and a free lunch (donations requested), testimonies from past camp participants and words from both the founder and his son, Doug Shows (via video).
The ministry, supported in part through the Missouri Missions Offering, hosted 273 children in 18 sports camps with five summer missionaries leading 28 kids to Christ that first year. In 2013, 37 students led 128 camps with 2,307 campers and 256 professions of faith. That’s 40,368 campers in 15 states and 12 countries – with 4,954 professions of faith.
“We have a lot to celebrate in 20 years of ministry,” said Alberts, who has been involved in the ministry since 1998 and has been executive director since October 2010.
This summer, Sports Crusaders is set to hold 130 camps in 46 communities across Missouri, Texas, Illinois and Arkansas. In addition, a team will travel to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico in July. Shows said it is fulfilling to watch the ministry continuing to grow.
“I used to wonder why God made me 6’7 when no family member was even close to that, and it’s become real clear why God made me a big and tall athlete,” Shows said. “I wasn’t all-American or any of that stuff, but God used what little talents I had and a love of sports for a purpose and it’s a blessing to get to see that purpose fulfilled in Sports Crusaders.”
For more information about Sports Crusaders or the 20th anniversary celebration, go to www.sportscrusaders.org or www.facebook.com/sportscrusaders.