Happy 5th Birthday!

In August of 2013, Push The Rock opened an office in Macha, Zambia.  The only structure at that time was a single family home-the rest of the land was available to be used however ministry might evolve.

Five years later we celebrate the Lord’s goodness + faithfulness.  We now have a Recreation Center that is full of life and energy as children from the community stop in for various activities each afternoon.  They know they are welcome and loved by our staff-as they spend intentional time with one another-whether in sports, games, puzzles, or the library.  We value the many extracurricular activities because after five years, we have seen amazing relationships of respect and trust being built through play. We believe that when friendships are at the foundation of sharing Christ, the message of who Christ is can be more easily understood through honest and open dialogue.

After a few years as PTRZ, we started to dream of building our own sports complex to  accommodate the growing number of teams and sports we represented. After a couple years and many hours of clearing, planting + watering grass, and being patient-we are so excited to have our very own grass soccer field. We’re also thrilled to have just completed a full-size basketball court located next to the soccer field-both of which are already being used daily. We are honored to be able to provide a place in this community where young people can come for training, various practices, or to watch their favorite soccer team, PTR FC. We have plans to add volleyball + netball courts-along with an area people can grab snacks and drinks and socialize.

Another space we’ve been especially proud of is our 9 hole disc golf course. We were introduced to the sport by Eagles Wings Disc Golf who came in 2016 to build the course and instruct us in how the sport was played.

It’s been fun to see the kids and adults develop their game and become quite competitive. There’s been so much interest that we’ve partnered again with EWDG to expand the course to 18 holes, and together we’ll be hosting a PDGA official tournament in January of 2019.

Our staff has gone from a single volunteer to now 16 members.  Over the years, we continue to see our leaders growing in confidence, maturity, knowledge, and faith. These are the real stars of Push The Rock Zambia. It has taken an entire team effort to get us to the five year mark and we are ever grateful for the many people in the community here those in the United States who support the ministry.  We thank you for your generosity, for your prayers, and for your encouragement.

Atuyandane.

Meet Our Newest Team Member – Esther Schultz

Our Newest Team Member

Eagles Wings Disc Golf is extremely excited to announce our first ever international disc golf internship.  Starting an international internship program has been a dream of ours for a few years now.  In January 2019 we will see that dream realized as Esther Schultz heads to Macha, Zambia for a three month internship where she will lead disc golf activities, provide training for the staff, and help get the newly completed 18 hole course established.  We met Esther this past year at the Junior World Championships, and we don’t think we could have found a better candidate!  Esther has a heart for the disc golf community and Africa and we can’t wait to see what the Lord does during her time there!  We wanted to introduce you to Esther so please check out the interview below to get to know her better.

 

Esther’s Interview

1. Tell us your name and just a little about yourself. Where you grew up, what sports you played, size of family, etc.
My name is Esther Schultz and I am from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am the second oldest of eleven kids and disc golf is the only sport that I have competed in. It is the perfect sport for my family and I have been in love with it for many years now.

 

2. When did you begin following Christ and who has had the biggest impact in your faith?
It feels like I have been a Christian my entire life. I was raised by parents who love Jesus and showed me through their lives what that looks like. They have by far had the biggest impact in my faith.

 

3. When did you begin playing disc golf, and what is your favorite thing about the sport?
My disc golf career started when I was about ten-years-old. There’s a lot of things that I love about the sport but my favorite aspect would probably be the unique community of people that disc golf brings together.

 

4. How did you find out about Eagles Wings Disc Golf and what made you want to get involved?
Last year, my parents found out about the Eagles Wings Disc Golf junior grant and encouraged my siblings and I to enter. After my brother won, I began to learn more about what other things Eagles Wings was doing and fell in love with it. There is a real need for ministry in the disc golf world and I love what Eagles Wings is doing to meet it!

 

5. Have you always had a heart for ministry in Africa? If so, how did that start?
Yes! For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to go to Africa. My parents are pastors, so I grew up getting to know a lot of missionaries. I have always had a burden and heart to do the things that they are doing around the world. I’m not sure exactly why, but Africa has always stuck out to me.

 

6. What are you most looking forward to during your internship?
I am really looking forward to just being there! Like I said, this is something that I have wanted to do my entire life. I know it is going to be tough, I am going to be learning and doing a lot of new things but I am so ready for the adventure!

 

 7. Other than disc golf, what is something else you like to do for fun?
 I love to play my guitar and do anything with my friends!

 

8. What is your favorite disc golf course? 
The Rez in Jackson, Mississippi.

 

9. What is your favorite or most unique disc golf memory?
I have so many! One of my favorites though was watching my brother play in Arizona for the chance to win a car. He played phenomenal the whole tournament, went into a six-hole sudden death playoff. It was one of the most intense things that I have ever experienced. Through it all, my little bro stayed true to himself and was able to come out happy on the other side. Even though I didn’t throw a single shot, watching him do what he did that week was truly an honor.
 

 

10. What is the number one thing you hope to take away from your time in Africa?
The number one thing I hope to take away is a better understanding of the Lord’s heart. To see what he created on the other side of the world and serving Him wholeheartedly I believe will be truly powerful.

 

Follow Along

To follow along with Esther, please like her Facebook page where she will be posting and updating about her experience!

AROMA back in Zambia

We are happy to have our friends from AROMA, the sports ministry department of Messiah College, back with us in Macha.  This is their fourth trip to work along side Push The Rock Zambia, and it has been a pleasure to be together.  Their passion and energy is contagious, and they have been a huge encouragement to us as staff members, as well as the children they have spent their time with.

Check out their Instagram account to see pictures and read about their time with us so far.

Sports Complex Update – Basketball coming soon!

A few years ago we set out to create a sports complex in this community. We dreamed to have multiple sport offerings in a central location, where we had ownership and could use it for our programs and purposes.

Our full size soccer field is already in use as of April of this year, and in May we completed the fencing project that now encloses the nearly 10 acre area.

The latest project we are now working on is the basketball court!  We broke ground the last week of May and are on course to finish the project by the end of July.  It has been years in planning and we are excited to see the plans

When the basketball court is finished, we will then install a sand volleyball court as well, followed by a netball court.

We are grateful for the workers here who are doing a great job, and the many people who have also supported this ongoing project financially over the past few years.  It truly is a team effort and to see it coming together is truly something we are grateful for!

 

Zambian National Soccer Team Tryout Invitation!

A couple weeks ago we received an exciting phone call, that one of our staff members Melody, our girls’ soccer coach, had been invited to try out for the Zambian Women’s National soccer team. Melody and a few other PTR staff had been playing soccer at a coaches training course earlier this year and she was noticed by some staff within the Football Association of Zambia.

Needless to say, within hours of the phone call, Melody had boarded a bus to take her the six hours to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.  What followed was two hard weeks of drills, exercises and games.Both the men’s and women’s teams were training at the same facility and she spent the weeks interacting with many of them. She talked with coaches, made connections, was able to share the mission and vision of PTRZ and share her passion for not only soccer, but also sport ministry.

At the end of her trial, she was selected to be among the number of women belonging to the Zambian Women’s National team, ready to be ‘called’ upon as future matches take place.

She returned to Macha a local hero as she is the first person in this rural area to ever make it to the national level.  We as an organization are very proud of her accomplishment, but mostly proud that her coaches said it was her character that really stood out to them.  Last Friday she shared her story and experience with the children here at PTRZ.  They listened carefully as their coach, their friend, and their mentor shared how she never dreamed that this day could happen, but it did. And then she very genuinely gave the glory to God.

We are SO proud of Melody.  We are also thrilled for her testimony and how her journey is one that the children here are able to aspire to.  We are grateful for new connections in the football world of Zambia and for her desire to use her platform to share about the value of discipleship of children through athletics.

Thank you Melody, thank you Football Association of Zambia, and thank you to the many of you who support our work here.

Disc Golfing in Ethiopia!

This weekend we are sending one of our staff members, Elem Katambo, to participate in Africa’s inaugural Professional Disc Golf Association event, the Ethiopia Open.  Being held on Saturday the 17th of February in Assosa, Ethiopia, it will be the first ever event of its kind on African soil.

Since having our own course installed back in May of 2016 with the help of Eagles Wings Disc Golf, we’ve seen tremendous growth locally, especially among the young children we work with.  Several of our staff have also become local disc golf pro’s, and Elem has gone so far as to be an officially registered PDGA member.

While Elem will be traveling to Ethiopia to compete and represent both our organization and Zambia itself, we look forward to being a part of the disc golf growth in Africa.  Two years ago, Zambia knew nothing of disc golf.  Now we have Zambia’s only course and are proud to send one of our own for an international competition.  Who knows, maybe one day we’ll host our own event!

We are proud to be a part of the event, which you can read more about  HERE!

Be sure to check back later to see the results!

UPDATE:

The results are in and Elem took first place in the amateur division!  Final standings HERE.

We are proud of his effort and thrilled he was able to take part in this event.  We now begin to dream of hosting our own similar event in the future.  Thank you for the continued support.

Practice rounds
Getting ready
Thank you Innova!
Elem receiving his 1st place trophy.

Coaches Complete Training Course

Recently we had the opportunity to send our football(soccer) coaches for an official course held by the Football Association of Zambia.  The course is the first level of training offered here and it serves as the basic requirements for anyone coaching in the community.

 

For that reason, we are thrilled to announce that five of our coaches now hold their FAZ “D” Level Coaching Certificates after successfully completing the course and meeting the requirements, including the exam.

We are grateful for such opportunities and we continue to be encouraged by such growth within our organization and the development by our staff.  The course also gave our staff a time to network and connect with a hundred other like-minded individuals from all over the country, energizing them with encouragement and opportunities for partnership in other regions.

Fantastic Friday

Each week when Friday rolls around, the children in Macha know they can expect a different routine from the normal Monday-Thursday program.

About a year ago we discussed ideas of how to create a program that encouraged children to work as a team with kids they wouldn’t otherwise interact with much.  Often our activities are geared toward boys or girls specifically, or to particular age groups – and that has its place.  However, for Fridays we wanted things to be different.  We wanted to come up with an idea that would challenge the ‘separatist’ mindset while encouraging the children to work together, to support each other, no matter their differences in age, size, or gender.

Hence Fantastic Friday began.  

Since we started this weekly program, we’ve seen the children embrace the idea and look forward to Fridays. They know that each week a different coach organizes the activities and competitions, as well as the Chapel lesson.  Our staff gets creative and enjoys the day almost as much as the children.  We do Bible quizzing, hold relay races, play Russian netball, have high jump and discus, go on scavenger hunts, have trash collection competitions…the list goes on and on.  If it promotes unity and team work in some way, it is fair game!

By 3PM on Friday, children are lining up ready for the afternoon to begin.  It is a joy to see the energy they bring each week, always hoping this will be the week their team will be announced winners!  After Chapel, the kids are separated into four different teams led by one of the coaches. They enjoy the day’s competitions and then we gather the children together again, this time for the announcement of who has won the day.

So as the sun sets and the dust settles each Friday here, you will hear a loud cheer rise up in Macha as the day’s results are revealed.  Members of the winning team rally around their coach, heading home amidst cheers and high fives, waiting for next week’s edition of Fantastic Friday.

Our hope is that through this weekly effort, we can continue to hammer home the importance of working together and valuing each other’s specific abilities and gifts, of encouraging one another and playing fairly.  That big and small-younger and older-boys and girls can play together and complement each other-that teamwork makes the dreamwork and the Body of Christ is vast.

While we know that Fantastic Fridays consists of fun and games, we also know these activities have huge potential in helping our young people learn and understand bigger life lessons, and for us, that is FANTASTIC.

AROMA back in Macha

For the third consecutive year, Messiah College and their sports ministry department AROMA, sent a team to partner with us here in Zambia.

Alongside our staff, the AROMA crew kept busy running morning clinics, followed by afternoons spent at our recreation center and disc golf course.  Beyond sports and sharing their testimonies in Macha, the team was also able to introduce, explain, and share a water filtration system with over 50 families from a local village community where we went for local outreach, which of course also included various sports activities and a friendly soccer match with the local team.

While here, the AROMA focused on teaching the game of baseball/softball, as well as teaching various basketball skills. Baseball and softball are basically new sports here, so it is of huge value to have athletes that can help the children learn a new sport, as well as teach our Push The Rock staff.  Basketball is gaining popularity as well, as was seen by the engagement of the children at one of our morning clinics.

For more pictures, check out the AROMA Instagram page!