Rock pile Stories
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Stories of impact and God’s faithfulness throughout the ministry
PTR Costa Rica | February, 2023
Letter From an Inmate
My name is Luis Esteban Sánchez Vargas, and I have been an inmate at the U.A.I Reinaldo Villalobos prison for 16 years. I have learned a lot, thanks to the patience of the Push The Rock workers. They use their valuable time to come and teach us that we are capable of doing anything we want to accomplish. With their help, I grew closer to God. I have learned that without God we are completely lost, like a ship without a lighthouse.
Because of the Push The Rock staff, I have been able to change my outlook on life. I changed from being a destructive person, to an empathetic one. I can also interact with my peers and others in a better and safer way. Thanks to all the advice and the time they invested in me, I have been able to change.
Push The Rock gives us the message, but receiving it and making it a part of our lives is our decision. In Christ, change is possible. If you knew how my life looked before, you might be surprised by the difference. It was filled with drugs, troubles, and self-centeredness. This behavior continued until I started loving myself and when I realized I was a child of God. My God loves me and He has always been with me.
Now I love my life, and I have been living the right way for 8 years. I decided to finish highschool, and now I am a college student at UNED. I am studying Business Administration. People can change, but it is their own decision.
I want to thank Nattie, Miguel, Álvaro, and Benjamín, and everyone else who have made this program possible. May our Lord Jesus Christ continue blessing their lives, because not many people would take the time to do what they do.
Psalms 51: 1-2
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
PTR Brazil | January, 2023
A Dream Come True in Brazil
When we started the ministry in Brazil we prayed and planned to provide sports activities every day of the week for kids and teens at AECA’s property, with the goal to share Jesus and disciple them. Well, in February we are going to start to run our sports program from Monday to Friday!
In partnership with the local government, AECA received funds to hire tennis coaches, which allows our Push the Rock missionaries to become full-time staff members serving at AECA. They can now run sports programs every day of the week! Isn’t that cool? We are getting money from the Brazilian government to hire our missionaries to share Jesus through sports to the Brazilian kids?!
Praise Lord! God is good!
PTR Spain | December, 2022
Volleyball Impact in Spain
Aldeen is an 8-year-old boy in Tenerife, Spain who has dreams of becoming a great volleyball player. In the days following Christmas, he heard the gospel presented at least 6 times, by our short-term trip team and developed a friendship with one of the college volleyball players. Aldeen and his family were invited to church and our staff in Spain will follow-up with him in the coming weeks. We are excited to see what God will do in this young man’s life. The potential is AWESOME!
PTR Costa Rica | November, 2022
High School Seniors are Challenged
This month our Costa Rican staff, Nattie and Benja, had the opportunity to go to a local Christian school, to do a presentation about Push the Rock. They explained what sports ministry is, how it works, what the objectives are, and how it helps impact people. They also told the students about Push the Rock’s values and the mission trips that we organize. This presentation was done in front of the high school seniors in order to inform them as well as motivate them to participate in such activities. They explained that as Christians, we need to support and help missions whether we are missionaries or not, and that even at their age they can and should try and help.
The school already had an outreach group, where the students help at different missions. One of the outcomes of the presentation is a newly formed partnership in which the school will send students to help out with various projects organized by Push the Rock Costa Rica.
PTR North America | August, 2022
Summer Camp Impact
A young boy – a good athlete who liked sports – attended one of our week-long camps last summer in the BuxMont district. His sister, however, had never experienced sports, let alone, a sports camp. On the first day of camp this summer, their mom pulled the camp director aside and shared she was concerned her daughter would be uncomfortable, unsure if she would enjoy it or even seem interested.
Half-way through the camp week, we received the following note from the mom:
“This has been my daughter’s first experience playing sports. She has come home so happy each day. Thank you for providing a safe and Christian environment for the children to grow in virtue. I am very grateful.”
At the conclusion of camp, the mom told us she will be enrolling both kids in our Home School Phys-Ed Program this Fall because of their positive experiences. It’s so awesome to see how the Lord used our program to impact these young lives!
Mission Trip | June, 2022
Hope SEED – Costa Rica
During the Hope SEED trip to Costa Rica the team visited one of the prisons. The team from Hope played a basketball game against the inmates. The game was good and those playing and watching enjoyed it. The game referee, one of the inmates, even commented that some of the girls visiting reminded him of his own daughters, whom he is unable to visit due to his incarceration. The team’s visit was a big encouragement to him.
But what stood out the most though, was that after the game the Hope team gave food they had brought in and shared a meal with the inmates, talking (as best they could) with them. The time after the game had more impact on the inmates as well as the team from Hope.
Oftentimes, it is time spent in conversation “outside” of programs that has the most impact.
PTR Costa Rica | March, 2022
Sometimes we take for granted or we get accustomed to the programs and forget how powerful our God is.
This week we went to school just to leave a few items that we received as a donation so we can run the Phys-Ed program, and when the kids saw us their eyes lit up and everyone came running and started hugging us. They asked: “When are we going to start the programs again?” One of the children even told us, “Phys-Ed is my favorite class, I wait the entire week for you to come!”
Those kinds of remarks let us know how big an impact we have in these kids’ lives, and gives us the strength to keep fighting the good fight that God has commanded us to, and spread the love of Jesus in these communities. God bless these children and may He be the one that changes their lives through Push The Rock and our programs.”
Eagles Wings Disc Golf | March 2022
A student was at our Family Doubles event and we were able to talk with the student and his family, encouraging them to join us at the Chapel the next day before our Junior tournament. His mom wasn’t sure she could get him up early enough, but they came and she found me afterwards and through tears said, “Thank you! This was exactly what my son needed to hear because he has been so competitive that I just don’t like playing with him anymore.”
The chapel spoke directly to the “Chain Monster” that creeps up inside of all of us when we hit a tree or something doesn’t go our way, causing a chain reaction of bad attitudes. Importantly, it was also shared how Jesus asks us to have self-control so we can be a good example and reflect his love to others while we play. I’m glad that God is speaking to kids through our Chapels.
PTR Guatemala | December 2021
A New Sport
Disc golf is not just about throwing a frisbee into a special basket. It is an avenue that provides kids and adults the opportunity to be in the outdoors, competing, fellowshipping, and having fun.
After learning that the first-ever disc golf course was being installed in Guatemala by the Paul McBeth Foundation (PMF) only 40 minutes from our Push The Rock location, I invited some of the older guys in our after-school program and five of them were able to go! None of the boys had even heard of the sport, but they were still excited to attend a PMF sponsored clinic at the new course. They all spent about three hours learning, practicing, playing some holes, and having a blast.
It was such a powerful moment to see the kids’ excitement of learning and playing a new sport from some top-level professional players. Before leaving, PMF provided discs so that the after-school kids could go and play the course in the future. It’s so cool how doors are open and connections are made through sports. It also provides an opportunity to talk about sportsmanship, and shareJesus with the kids and other players we meet up with at the course.
PTR Brazil | October 2021
Flavio and Jardenya’s Story
Flávio was just another statistic, with a high probability of going down into the life of drug trafficking, simply because he was poor and not having a structured family at home. His needs were many, but Flávio’s story took a different turn.
Flávio arrived at AECA in 2013 at the age of 12. After the sports activities offered at AECA/PTR Brazil, the kids— including Flavio—participated in conversations that challenged them to get to know the Lord Jesus and give their lives to Him, knowing that nothing in life was more important. So Flávio, still just a kid, acknowledged Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
Now 19 years old, Flávio works at a food company in town, wants to attend business school, and whenever he’s off work, he visits AECA for a tennis match.
Jardenya’s story is not much different.
Jardenya is Flávio’s cousin, and was invited by Flávio to attend AECA and PTR Brazil when she was 12 years old. Seven years later, Jardenya is a sophomore in college, majoring in teacher education. Both Flávio and Jardenya came from broken homes, but they learned that they are now part of the family of God. They both attend a local church. Our hearts are filled with joy and gratitude to God when we see kids who were reached by AECA and PTR-Brazil now living with dignity and purpose.
PTR North America | January 2021
Virtual Team Practice
Covid-19 has impacted so many areas of ministry and our lives. In a typical year, inclement weather would lead our volleyball club to cancel practice all together for the safety of our players and families, however with the use of technology now we are able to hold zoom practices when we are not able to meet in person.
Although maybe not ideal, our 15U Volleyball team just held a virtual practice because of inclement weather. During this time, the team was able to read through their curriculum and share what God means to them. Two girls shared their testimonies and how Jesus has impacted their lives, followed by the assistant coach sharing how Jesus is working in her life, too!
While on the call, all the families were also invited to join in prayer with the girls. Praise God for the gift of technology, the prompting of the Holy Spirit to have the girls share about their faith, and the commitment from the team to learn and pray together.
PTR Tenerife | November 2022
Seeds Planted in Tenerife
In a country where less than 2 percent of the people are Christians we were blessed to be able to plant seeds in the tennis community of Tenerife.
Every day we ran 5 sessions for different age groups and at the end of each session one of the team shared a short devotion or sportsmanship thought. The last session of each day was with adults. After a sportsmanship thought on respect, one of the men in the session was the leader of all sports activities in Adeje, the county we were working in. After the talk he inquired about our partner church and expressed interest in attending.
After one of the youth sessions we awarded one of the young boys a character award. Obviously the boy and his mother were excited. After some pictures with the local pastor, she couldn’t thank us enough. As she was leaving, she commented how much he enjoyed the sessions but more importantly, thanked us for being positive role models for her son.
On the trip God gave us a chance to plant seeds. Pray that those seeds are watered and that God gets the glory.
PTR Guatemala | July 2022
Family Pool Party
We had our family pool day where we invited all the kids who attend our after-school program, along with their families, to enjoy some time swimming, fellowship, snacks, and playing together. It was an incredible time to meet and get to know some of the parents and kids’ siblings in a relaxed and informal setting. We played a huge group game of ‘Swim fishy Swim’ where most of the 70 people participated and some of the kids’ parents were going full out and giving it their all. It was such a joy to see parents with their kids and families having fun together as that is not something that is common in this culture. It encouraged us greatly to see the joy and smiles on their faces as they played this simple game and had fun the whole time the event was happening. It reminded me of the joy and love and smiles we should be showing others as we exude the love of Christ.
Slingshot Esports | March 2022
Open to the Community
At a recent event held at a partner church, a friend of one of the players who lives nearby in the community saw the way we had set up for the event with all of the gaming gear, tables, chairs, and other equipment spread out in the area that is typically used for the worship service. She looked around and said to the pastor, “I thought this place was a church.” The pastor grinned from ear to ear, ecstatic that a person from the community was able to see the “church” as more than just a place to be on Sunday, but also a place which brings value to the community.
PTR Brazil | January 2022
Michael’s parents left Haiti many years ago after a hurricane devasted the island nation. Looking for a better life, they became refugees and were resettled in Brazil. Several years later, Michael was finally able to join them and their family was reunited.
Michael has now been attending Push The Rock athletic programs at AECA for four years. He already knows Jesus and just won an award for memorizing Psalm 1!
We started an education program that will sponsor Michael to attend a private school, and then college. This project is sponsored by donations and will be overseen by one of AECA’s volunteers.
Pray for Michael as he grows in his education, and as he grows in his faith.
PTR Costa Rica | December 2021
A Christmas Blessing
God answers our prayers. In the month of October, we began to pray that God would move the hearts of a company to help us by donating Christmas gifts for the children who participate in our PTR soccer program in Platanar de San Carlos. Once again, God was faithful and a company decided through its employees to donate gifts; others contributed to a food distribution. On Dec 22, we were able to deliver a package containing food and Christmas gifts to each of the 35 families! The children and parents were very grateful for this blessing. We give Glory to God!
PTR Summit | November 2021
Camper To Follower To Leader
Munda shared his inspiring story with us after a soccer clinic we hosted during our PTR Summit in Clarkston, GA.
Munda was only seven years old when his mother and five siblings fled their home country of Sierra Leone in West Africa, leaving their father behind. The US government granted refugee status, and eventually resettled them in Clarkston. He remembers the transition being very hard—especially integrating into school with very little English.
As he grew, he regularly attended summer camps hosted by local churches. He would cover his ears as the leaders of the camp would share about Jesus and the Christian faith, since it opposed his family’s Muslim faith. But, through covered ears, he still heard the message of hope that Jesus loved him and wanted a relationship with Him.
As a young adult, a friend invited him to attend a church service. Munda was captivated as he clearly heard the message of God’s love for him. Munda gave his life to Jesus that day and has never been the same!
Now 24 years old, Munda is a student and is also leading a soccer program in Clarkston. He shares his faith with young refugee children and teens, and also his eleven siblings, some of whom are already followers of Jesus. A summer camp planted seeds of hope that eventually led to Munda’s decision to follow Jesus. Now, he is sharing that message of hope with countless others in Clarkston where people of many nations come to live.
PTR Missions Trips | August 2021
Duane is a Navajo man who recently completed the 3-month program at the Christian Discipleship Center (CDC) in Cortez, CO. This summer, he returned to the CDC campus to trial their after-care program.
In July, Push The Rock ran our inaugural boys’ basketball camp amongst the Navajo, partnering with the CDC to reach the children of program participants. Duane was one of the volunteer helpers at the camp.
Unbeknownst to Duane, his son, whom he had not seen in 5 years, was registered as a camper. Over the course of the basketball week, father and son reconnected. Duane’s daughters came to visit their brother at camp and were able to see their dad again too. The ministry of the CDC is focused on seeing lives restored. We feel blessed that the PTR basketball camp served as a catalyst to further the restoration of this man with his family.
PTR North America | March 2020
You don’t always have a chance to see the impact you had or have on the people you work with. You pray you’re making a difference and trust that God will use you to bring glory unto Himself.
Daniel started attending Push The Rock programs when he was about six years old. I often saw him at camps and taught him at our home school gym classes. He was somewhat shy but would participate in our chapel time and of course loved the sports part.
In 2016, he joined our summer staff. It was great to see him lead young kids both spiritually and athletically. He helped out off and on over the years at camp until he left for Messiah University. Two weeks ago, I had the honor of seeing the impact Push The Rock and I had on this young man. I was invited to watch Daniel make his profession of faith and join the church. What a privilege it was to watch Daniel take this step in his faith journey and see his desire to be connected to a local body of believers. I am so thankful that God used me in a small way, through Push The Rock, in Daniel’s life.