By Cindy Pierson, First Baptist Church Ingersoll
A highlight of FBCI Youth Ministry programming in the past has been attending CBOQ’s Centre Court Event. Many of our former youth still talk about this event as having been a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity and share fond memories of their experience there. For many of our youth this event provided an opportunity to attend a Raptor’s game that they would not otherwise have had, as well as a safe space in which to invite their unchurched friends to introduce them to Jesus and the gospel message and how it is impacting the lives of people like Steve Kearns and Herbie Kuhn. For our Youth Ministry, it is an opportunity to make connections among and with our youth, to spark faith conversations and make fun memories that will have a lasting impression. That is why we were so excited to hear that CBOQ was hosting Centre Court again after 3 years.
The CBOQ Centre Court experience, for our group, was more than just attending the Raptor’s game. Living in a smaller rural community in Southern Ontario, many of our youth had never travelled on a GoTrain, seen the sights of downtown Toronto, walked underground pedestrian tunnels, or experienced the busyness of a large shopping centre decorated at Christmas time. It was a full, but exciting day, departing early in the morning, travelling by vehicles to the Aldershot GoTrain station, catching the train to Union Station, and walking to the ScotiaBank Arena for the pre-game event in the morning, the Raptor’s Game in the evening, and returning home in the early hours of the following morning. In between the Pre-Game Event, and the Raptor’s game, the group enjoyed lunch and dinner together at the food court in Union Station, navigated the Path to the Eaton Centre, and explored downtown participating in the Instagram Bingo Challenge. All the while making the most of conversations that occurred “in between the cracks.” It was also a neat opportunity to share with others we met along the way, the reason our group was there that day.
We have many great takeaways from this event. In the pre-game event, our group was able to participate in the 90-Second Shot Clock Contest, as well as send one representative to participate in the 1-1 Challenge. The youth were also very excited to be able to attend courtside for the Pre-Game Shoot Around to watch the players in their warm-up. These opportunities to step on-court together were a unique and memorable time that has forged connections among our youth because of the shared experiences. The testimonies from Herbie Khun and Steve Kearns were insightful as to how Jesus is real and how He is impacting their lives, as well as an encouraging reminder that God has made each one of them with a purpose and given them talents and gifts that they can use for His glory and honor. The Life in 6 Words: The Gospel message was a simple yet engaging way to present the Gospel using a 6-letter acrostic. It was a clear message of the hope and life we can all have in Jesus. We are thankful for the opportunities, for the memories and connections made, and for the seeds that were planted in the lives of those who attended this special day!