Ukraine – SportQuest
For My thoughts are not your thoughts.
Andriy Petrenko dreamed of being a professional football (soccer) player. Growing up, his parents made huge sacrifices to help him attend schools that nurtured his dream. Everything came together for Andriy when he received a contract to play professionally. A knee injury changed everything. It would never recover enough to play at the level Andriy had trained for his entire life. That was not the end of the story. In fact, it was just the beginning. Enroute to his dream career, Andriy also met Jesus Christ. Andriy came to realize the deep truths of Romans 8:28.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren…
According to this passage, God’s plan for Andriy’s life was far greater than the one he had for himself. Rather than being a player, God wanted Andriy to become a disciple-making coach, and what a coach he has become!
Based in Shostka, Ukraine, Andriy is now a key leader of the International Sports Coalition in Eurasia (Eastern Europe / Central Asia). In this area where the Soviet Union once ruled, poor economic conditions exist that affect the mind, body, and spirit of the people. Play can be a major diversion from the harsh realities of life. Using his football skills along with a disciple-making strategy, Andriy organizes football teams for boys and girls, leveraging his time with them for both physical and spiritual impact.
Andriy -> Coaches -> Players -> Families ->
Neighborhood -> Shostka -> Ukraine -> Eurasia
We met Andriy a number of years ago. He has attended our training in Ukraine and in Israel, learning how to use the storyline of the Bible as a vehicle for discipling unbelievers to first faith and showing them how to make disciple-making disciples. What is happening through Andriy’s ministry is truly remarkable. He is initiating disciple making movements where he lives, works, and plays through at least the fourth generation. Using our Stories of God training as the basis for Bible studies in the homes of his players, Andriy reports that entire families are coming to first faith.
Andriy Petrenko is not focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ. Andriy is identifying faithful men and women who will commit to making disciple-making disciples. He is training trainers. Now, watch as Andriy introduces you to the disciple-making team God is building in Shostka, in Ukraine, and throughout all of Eurasia.
Growing A Disciple Making Movement
Andriy’s program in Shostka works with three age groups. They are kids 15 and 16 years old (U-16), under 14 (U-14), and under 8 (U-8). Andriy explains, “We use Disciple Daily’s twelve Stories of God with our U-16 and U-14 football players. They hear the same story many times during the week, dividing the storytelling into three cycles.”
- At the first practice of the week the players listen to their coach tell the story and answer questions about what attracts their attention.
- During the second practice they hear the story again, telling us what they learned about God and mankind.
- At the last practice of the week, the players hear the story one final time from their coach. They are challenged to retell the story for the team and receive a small prize as a reward. Practical questions are asked, like “how are you going to obey what God wants from you according to this story? Each player is asked to share the story with their parents and friends.
Andriy trains his disciple-making coaches to tell very simple stories with the youngest age group (U-8). Andriy explains, “I tell the Bible stories from Genesis to Acts to our players, in front of their parents. This is very important because parents can participate in the spiritual process. Every time, I give some practical tasks from the story so that parents can identify truth from the story. This provides a platform to encourage their kids in obedience to the things they learned in the story. These are very basic things, like how kids can show respect and love to parents, help their parents and relatives, speaking kind words of encouragement, and other things.”
Andriy continues, “It is a pre-condition that all of our players participate in spiritual education if they want to join our teams. This gives me an opportunity to speak about spiritual things with parents if they bring their children to practice and games. The most open parents are invited to a Bible study. For the last year we worked with 4 families. We covered the twelve stories and then took them deeper with Discovery Bible Studies. Amazingly, the families started sharing the stories with their parents and other relatives. That gave us even broader influence. Starting in the fall of 2016, I want train two of our current families how to do storytelling. This will allow us to start two more Bible study groups through them while I start new study groups with the other families of my players.
Training Disciple-Making Disciples… Here, Near, and Far!
Looking beyond his own community, Andriy explains, “I am starting an initiative that helps Christian coaches to reach a higher level in their own sport and also to maximize the spiritual impact of their practices. We have about fifty soccer coaches in Ukraine that we have shared this strategy with, showing them how to use our tools in their sport ministry. My intention is to pass this on to the broader community of Christian coaches of different sports throughout Eurasia very soon. I see the Stories of God, given to us free of charge by the Disciple Daily Network as a very important instrument to help people who are searching for God to start understanding the Bible and bring them to the point that they can say “yes” to Jesus.”
Having participated in our training in Kamianets Podilskyi – Ukraine, Andriy knew that the Stories of God resources had to be translated into Russian before they could be widely used throughout Eurasia. Taking the initiative, Andriy recruited two professional translators (Anastasiya & Jhenya) to volunteer their time and talent to that work. One lives in Uzbekistan, the other in Russia. To all of you, I am very grateful for your labor of love on this project!