God's Sports Arena kicks off in PNG
God's Sports Arena kicks off in PNG
17 January 2019
The international expansion of God’s Sports Arena came about through the successful Hope and a Future project – a mentoring, leadership and holistic health program sponsored by the Australia Territory.
Every year for the past five years, a number of emerging Papua New Guinea Salvation Army leaders have travelled to Queensland to participate in the program, during which they run the Gold Coast Marathon. During their visit the participants also attend God’s Sports Arena in Brisbane.
Bill Hunter, the God’s Sports Arena leader and Hope and a Future coordinator, said he was approached last year by former participants with an idea. “They requested that a God’s Sports Arena service be run in Papua New Guinea because they loved it so much in Australia when they were exposed to it,” he says.
Each church service at God’s Sports Arena follows a sporting theme, with a whistle being blown to start the service, and seat swapping at “half-time”. It’s a casual-style church service, with contemporary worship, an encouragement segment, testimonies and a “Sportsman’s Prayer” at the end.
“Papua New Guinea services are fairly traditional,” says Bill. “The God’s Sports Arena service is far less formal, very relaxed and with the aim of loving and encouraging people who attend.”
The first service was held last Sunday evening at Boroko Corps, situated on the grounds of The Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters in Port Moresby. More than 105 young people attended, despite torrential rain. Bill led the service, with Hope and a Future graduates Greg Vali and John Eric assisting. John gave a powerful testimony of how his life was transformed in the middle of running the Gold Coast Marathon as a result of the Hope and a Future program.
“We just love investing in our youth,” says John, with Greg adding, “Because we’ve been invested into by Salvation Army leadership here in Papua New Guinea and the Hope and a Future program, we want to do the same for the young people around us. We want to see the youth grow in their faith and develop in their leadership.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Miriam Gluyas, NSW/ACT Divisional Commander, was also present during the inaugural God’s Sports Arena service in Port Moresby. She said just five years ago, both Greg and John were shy young people, and it was exciting to see their transformation as a result of the Hope and a Future program.
“They are now confident young leaders, leading many new initiatives, taking on leadership in their corps and speaking up on issues that really matter. I’m so very proud of these young leaders, and there’s plenty more rising up.”
Bill agrees. He says it’s rewarding to see young people taking ownership of running a church service. “This is empowering them to be leaders and to better reach their community through a less formal approach to church.”
Hope and a Future 2019
While in Papua New Guinea, The Salvation Army Hope and a Future team selected the 2019 Hope and a Future participants. Dozens of young people applied to be part of the program, which includes teaching, training and mentoring on four pillars: faith, fitness, education and leadership.
Ten participants, as well as two mentors, were chosen. Local Salvation Army Territorial Youth Secretaries, Captains Kila and Pouna Komu, will once again be part of the Hope and Future team for 2019.
Australian mentors who will run the Gold Coast Marathon with the participants are Bill Hunter [Gods Sport’s Arena leader and Hope and a Future coordinator], Adrian Kistan [General Manager, Mission Inclusion, Territorial Social Program Department], Captain Brad McIver [NSW Public Relations Secretary], Captain Krista Andrews [Carindale Corps Officer], and Lauren Martin [Others Magazine journalist from 2508 Salvos, Helensburgh].
The team is encouraging Salvation Army runners, joggers and even walkers to sign up for the Gold Coast Marathon – either the full 42km marathon, the 21km half marathon or the 10km or 5.7km alternative events.
“The Salvation Army has a growing presence at the Gold Coast Marathon and it’s exciting to see Salvos Striders [a Salvation Army running group] and other Salvation Army runners on the course,” says Lieut-Colonel Miriam Gluyas. “Why not come and join us to support our Hope and a Future participants as they step out in faith and challenge themselves to run the race God has set before them.”
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Caption: God’s Sports Arena leader Bill Hunter speaks at the inaugural God’s Sports Arena service in Boroko, Port Moresby.
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Former Salvation Army Hope and a Future participants have started a God’s Sports Arena service at Boroko Corps, Port Moresby, in Papua New Guinea.
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Caption: Despite torrential rain, more than 100 young people turned out for the inaugural Salvation Army God’s Sports Arena service at Boroko Corps, Port Moresby, in Papua New Guinea.
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Caption: Salvation Army Hope and a Future participants have started a God’s Sports Arena Service at Boroko Corps, Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.
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Caption: Greg Vali, one of the initiators of God’s Sports Arena in Papua New Guinea and a former Hope and a Future program participant.
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Caption: John Eric had his life transformed by God in the middle of running the Gold Coast Marathon. He is one of the co-founders of God’s Sports Arena in Papua New Guinea, along with Greg Vali, and was interviewed during the first service by Bill Hunter, founder of God’s Sports Arena in Brisbane.
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Caption: The 2019 Hope and a Future project participants: (from left back row) Aika (mentor), Mack, McAllister, Darby, Theo, Roka and Goroa; (from left front row) Samantha, Rebecca, Jasmine, Thelma and Laurel (mentor) with Hope and a Future coordinator Bill Hunter and Papua New Guinea Salvation Army officers Captains Kila and Pouna Komu.