There are NHL hockey greats like Gretzky, Crosby, Hull and Orr.
MLB baseball blasters like Halladay, Alomar, Dickey and Trout.
Basketball giants like Curry, Kawhi, LeBron and Jordan.
Football phenoms such as Wilson, Brees, Foles and Pinball.
However, the strongest, unmatched, unequalled, undefeated, magnificent champion… G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) ‘Superstar’ is the topic for the MEGA Sports Camps that Dan Tambeau and his team of ‘all stars’ celebrate and discuss each summer to hundreds of kids!
Pastor Dan currently is serving as children’s pastor at Hiway Pentecostal Church in Barrie, Ontario. This relatively small church is located literally on the edge of the 400 Highway on the way to Ontario’s cottage country. This church is passed by thousands of cars every day and is packing a hefty punch as it continues to make a BIG difference in the lives of children and families in this area. By partnering with parents and volunteers, the church desires to provide a fun and spiritually engaging environment. At the heart of what they do together as a church family, they share in a united passion to introduce people of all ages to Jesus and help them as they grow in their faith.
Throughout the year, Hiway provides various ministry times and special events to engage kids and families. Summer is one of these times! Pastor Dan is a bit of a sports enthusiast and is passionate about Jesus and the Word of God. MEGA Sports Camps enable him to bring these two themes together and present Christianity in a non-threatening way. A MEGA Sports Camp outreach is a flexible program that can be easily adapted to fit any church schedule, setting and community. Through each day’s theme, the goal is to lead every child on a journey to make character and spiritual discoveries for themselves.
Whether it be on the pitcher’s mound or the middle of the playing field or game time, you are bound to see the players huddle together for a quick meeting to secretly share strategy. At various times of the camp day, these huddles help kids build relationships with a caring teen or adult who loves God and loves kids. It is within these huddle times that kids are encouraged to share those things they are concerned about, and coaches and the rest of the team can join together in praying for one another.
In July, Pastor Dan and Hiway’s team of 65 volunteers ran the first of TWO camps! There were over 180 kids running, jumping, praising God and energetically enjoying themselves throughout the week. Well over 100 children who attended camp this summer had no church connection and were able to discover who Jesus is for the first time! This year was no exception in that 66 children gave their hearts to Jesus and 28 children rededicated their hearts to Christ! Prior to the start of camp, in their Sunday HD (High Definition) children’s ministry, Pastor Dan shared that there were 16 kids who had already given their hearts to Jesus. That means over 100 kids since May have professed Jesus as Lord!
Pastor Dan always has Bibles on hand to distribute to those who don’t have a Bible. This year one little boy attended the camp and turned down the offer of a free Bible as he felt it could cause problems at home (because it was too big). Then the eager boy returned the next day and asked for a Bible. One of the other camp staff heard about the conversation the prior day and presented the boy with a smaller, more discreet Bible, which he gratefully accepted.
These camps present such a non-threatening opportunity for families to attend church. Such is the case for a nine-year-old boy in attendance who just this past March lost his Dad. It has been a difficult time for the family and while the boy was enjoying the activities Mom stayed close by. Pastor Dan met the Mom and learned a little more about this family and their journey through grief. As a caring church, they leaned in to help set up additional ministry to this family during this time of loss.
For further follow-up opportunities with the children this incredible team of volunteers will be visiting eight different parks over the next four weeks in the Barrie area. The church alerts the children and families who attended the MEGA Sports Camp as to which parks to meet up in. At the park, the team will provide games, discipleship activities and relationship building opportunities for the kids and families—all the while gearing up for the next camp which will take place the week of August 12-16, 2019.
This is the second year that Pastor Dan has been the “Head Coach” at Hiway. Last year they spent over $1,200 on advertising and promotions. This investment really helped them to ‘get the ball rolling’, and now they are positioned ‘on the field’ in their community where word of mouth is their best form of advertising and promotion. This year, they chose to go with a zero promotional budget, and the camp roster is robust as kids are coming back, and bringing their friends! A positive impact made on the next generation can be the best investment for reaching a community for Christ.
From 2006 to 2018 (12 years) Pastor Dan ran the MEGA Sports Camp at another church once a year. In his final years in that rural community, they saw over 350 kids in attendance. He calculated that over 50 kids each year gave their hearts to Christ. That adds up to over 700 children responding to the love of Jesus during that time!
How can a person transform Canada? Pastor Dan shared, “I wanted to do something for God. Then I discovered kids’ ministry. I realized that these children ARE coming to me with great spiritual hunger. They are looking for answers to their child-size questions and problems. They want to know about Jesus! After all, if we can change a child, we can change a life for eternity. We transform Canada, one person and one family at a time!
So, what are you doing next summer? Want to start a MEGA Sports Camp? If so, email Mission Canada and we can help you get the ball rolling!
[Photo courtesy of Hiway Pentecostal and iStock photo]