There are twenty courts inside of this dome in Kaohsiung, which is the second largest city in Taiwan. This place is always full of people playing, there is no place for you to sit down since the space outside the courts is full of parked motorcycles. This is the first place where I can block someone in a game and they just laugh at how this 6.5 foot guy blocked them when shooting the ball, instead of getting mad at me. There are few days when I don’t have people coming to take a picture with me, they ask me to put my hand on their heads and stand up as tall as I can, it’s crazy! So fun!
I play on two local teams, although I had to find my own uniform in the USA since my American size, XL, is a 4XL in Taiwanese measurements and no sports store sells that. My friend Dirk says that when he told them about me coming to the team, they decided to sign up for a big competition, and I have felt the pressure to play well ever since!
The reason, they told me, that you won’t see any foreigners playing basketball with here it is because “they are always in the bars with Taiwanese girls. But you like to come and play with us, you talk to everyone in here, you are different.” What my friends said to me that day was God’s way of saying, “I want you on the courts with them”.
There have been amazing conversations during and after our games about why I believed God is real, how God healed me from asthma when I was a kid that now enables me to play sports, why I am not afraid of dying, why I love my wife and son, why we want more kids, why we traveled this far to be volunteers, and through these and many more conversation topics I have been able to tell them about His love.
Some days I would like to push it more and quickly see “fruit on the trees”, but inside I ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, to wait for His move in their hearts before my move, meanwhile I’ll keep praying for them, spending time with them, and taking funny pictures with my hand on their heads while they laugh.
As we were driving to a game the other night, one of my friends saw a group of Mormons standing on the corner of an intersection holding a sing that said, “Free English Classes.” He turned to me and said, “Do you see them? They only teach 5 minutes of English class, and 55 minutes of their Mormon religion class. I don’t like that. They try to be friends with me just so I can be like them. That is not honest.”
He is right. I pray with hope that this second year in Taiwan God will allow me to see the fruit of all those great conversations I have had with my friends in the basketball team about my Savior. I pray that the Holy Spirit convicts their hearts and gives them the desire to find this sweet love that can redeem their lives.
I want to see the fruit, I don’t want to go back home without seeing at least one of my basketball friends turning to Jesus. I am not here just to wholeheartedly teach in the schools of Taiwan, but to use every second of every hour of every day as a messenger of truth and Eternal life with whoever I meet.