Sports changed me but Jesus transformed me. by Sze Hong Lau
I am a product of sports mission. 3 ministers baptised me at an ice-bath bucket after a rugby game in a summer of 2014. It was not your usual baptism comparing with our local church context, with 99% non-christians witnessing, without flowers and bible as gifts, yet it was a true and genuine response from a person to our perfect God and by His grace.
Since 2011, I was leading a community rugby club to fight for the glory of the North West region of Hong Kong, with a dream that sports achievement will bring hope and change to the teenagers. My teammates and I were young and passionate. We wanted to prove to the world that we can make a difference, and able to compete with rich expats and professional rugby teams. We might have achieved some aspects, yet we missed something that is greater than the game itself.
When I was busy with searching for sponsors, partnership, getting more coaches and better players. I did not know that I did not change anything but I let sport changed me. I became more aggressive on and off the pitch, more result orientated. I started putting more and more pressure on my teammates and myself. Shouting on and off the pitch, pushing people to finish their tasks here and there, seeing my friends as resources…
I snapped. I dropped the ball. I forgot the most important goal along the journey, I forgot that we were suppose to bring hope for the community. I finally realise that: sport is not the solution. The community does not need another winning team to cheer them up, we all need the everlasting hope that we can hold on to.
I talked to a pastor who was also one of our teammates. He sat me down and started to share with me his leadership experience and frustration as a leader. His honesty inspired me to put down my guards and share more of my personal struggles. He also helped me to identify my weakness and my true desire in life. It was so refreshing every time when I talked and shared deeper issues.
As we continue to discuss about what Jesus did on the cross for the world, I realised that I need to be reborn not just refreshed. I repented for what I had done for my own glory, achievements and passion. I did not know there is a purpose in my life and I did not know there is a personal God in my life since the beginning. Not until Jesus allowed me to experience His kindness and His faithfulness to me, in me and through me. Praise God for His love for me and for my family. I am now a sports chaplain for one of the universities in Hong Kong, providing pastoral care to the next generations.
In the midst of Hong Kong’s double pandemic, the virus and the political unrest, my wife and I are promoting the wellness on the campus and in my local church. We remind and teach everyone to align with Jesus, who cares so deeply about every aspects of our lives, physically, mentally, spiritually and relationally. From teaching how to breathe; to how to do exercise; from how to relate to our beloved ones; to how to relate to our loving God; from how to be a helpful coach to how to be a godly leader. We are trying to bring people to see who Jesus is and what He intended for us to experience in Him.
This summer, my former rugby students were into boxing and we started to communicate with gloves hitting pads. I pray that through the times spent and the truths that we shared. By the grace of God they would know that hope does not come only from achievements or the way people see us, but the finished work of Christ and the way that God sees us.
For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:8