Seeing a Soccer Field as a Mission Field

9/22/2016

Rev. David Horton shares the impact of facilitating community rather than competition on the church soccer field, complete with the aid of Houston Dynamo Street Team members helping youngsters from all nations play together.

In an area of town where green space is hard to find, the new soccer field on the Gethsemane campus of St. Luke’s UMC in Houston is rightly referred to as the “Field of Dreams.” Rev. David Horton describes his personal “aha moment” that played a part in the church becoming a multicultural magnet for children of every nationality. “I knew soccer was huge in the multinational communities around our campus, but, initially, I did not realize how huge,” he admits. “In the home countries of Gethsemane’s first generation immigrant neighbors, soccer is second only to breathing. Children learn soccer around the same time they learn how to walk.”
 
David calls the field a “kingdom asset” knowing its sole purpose is mission. “Gethsemane is a missionary outpost – or epicenter -- on the frontier of multicultural ministry,” he says, “so we want every square inch of our campus to be used for outreach so the community may know Jesus is near. Our soccer field has helped make that vision a reality.”
 
In August, the church hosted a Soccer Field Grand Opening Celebration by partnering with the Houston Dynamo Street Team to promote soccer clinics and activities. The Dynamo’s are Houston’s professional soccer team. During the school year the field is used for KIPP Connect Charter School for recess and intramural sports. Over 20 hours a week is devoted to KIPP students. Soccer will also play an important role for children 5-14 of Houston: reVision this year with the launch of a new soccer clinic program designed to build community.
 
“Houston: reVision, along with St. Luke’s UMC, understands the challenges of the neighborhood,” shares reVision CEO Charles Rotramel. “We are so pleased that the Houston Dynamo is joining us and offering a level of soccer training that will be beyond our expectations. This creates a really amazing set of new opportunities that will go a long way in changing the kids and families that we work with.”
 
Unique Environment for Community Building
“We hope parents of the youth in the soccer clinics will stick around and visit on the sidelines,” adds David. “If soccer is to be the main course we dish out, then we hope the whole family will stay and enjoy it. The dream for the soccer field is the same dream we have for all of Gethsemane ministries: that it might be a mission to the ends of the earth in our very own backyard.”