If you love movies (as I do), the reference to the 1989 Kevin Costner movie might be instantaneous. If you missed that one, the movie is about an Iowa farmer who clears a corn field and builds a full baseball field to fulfill a strong urging in his spirit telling him, “If you build it, he will come.”
For those feeling a bit confused, we have not moved to Iowa, and are still missionaries in the desert of northern Kenya. However, the idea of transforming an open, sandy court area into a fenced sports court with a high school height basketball hoop came to fruition a few months ago.
Ian (our 14 year old son) loves basketball, but many a ball has met its demise in the thorn bushes that surround us. Soccer balls, basketballs, volleyballs, footballs – if it holds air, it is probably not long for this world. He was growing more and more frustrated that one of his only sources of releasing teen energy was so … frustrating!
Joel had some time off over Christmas, so he, Ian, and a local friend took to task building the backboard, setting up a huge net behind it to catch stray balls, and fencing in the court area. Next came the free throw line, and a 3 point semi-circle. It’s only half court, but a fully functional half court.
That’s the back story to where we are today. About a month ago, Ian discovered that there are two basketball teams in Lokichoggio – high school and middle school. Ian’s Turkana friend, Raphael, plays on the middle school team, and invited Ian to join. We wondered how organized this league would be, and honestly felt a bit skeptical. Could it be true that God could meet our son’s heart THAT MUCH? To speak into his desire for friends, sports, and belonging in this remote, desert place?
This is the second time this week that Coach and the team have come to our court to practice. We had no idea where this court would lead or the opportunities that would develop from it, but here they are. I look out the kitchen window and smile. There is Joel, joining together with Coach: challenging, molding, and directing these young men to see something more in their lives than hopeless, drunken despair.
This is God’s heart for each of us. To hear the deepest groans of our hearts, the spoken desires and the unspoken ones, and to let us know that we are heard. And deeply loved.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
~ Prov 3:5