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Smethwick: Brethren church combines football with youth outreach

Young people in the West Midlands are finding football and faith a telling combination ...

It’s all on offer for young people in Smethwick, West Midlands. During the autumn half-term, they were able to enjoy times of football with coaching leading to competitions at a sports mission.

Their venue is a full scale sports hall on the grounds of Smethwick Gospel Hall, a Brethren church which uses its facilities to benefit local residents. Results include outreach through the entire school year as well.

For one week, sessions offer fun, sports opportunities and spiritual input. The junior group of under 12s meets each morning, the seniors attend in the evenings. Sessions began with warm-up exercises and playing skills were developed throughout the week. Each day, a video of professional coaching helped youngsters to progress as teams formed and matches were played.

Variety ensured a full programme as there were breaks for refreshments, prize draws and a message from youth evangelist Peter Green. An Associate Evangelist with OAC Ministries (Open Air Campaigners) and co-founder of Christian Family Ministries, he regularly participates in this annual event.

Most people would appreciate the security Peter Green enjoyed as a chief cashier in a bank. But Peter left that behind to attend Bible College. His choice led to Christian service in North and South America, Eastern Europe and Africa.

He then became an OAC Staff Evangelist, starting the Birmingham branch, lectured widely in Bible Colleges and served as an evangelist with the Billy Graham team for Mission England. Together with his puppet Alfred (see photo top right), his Police Chaplaincy encompasses both Britain and Poland as seen on TV.

This year in Smethwick, Peter spent time with the juniors.

"There is something for everyone," he says. "Each youngster taking part is valued and given the opportunity to enjoy special treats. They like to wear the football kit and play in the professional sports hall with its welcoming décor for this event."

Competition grew keen with the build-up to the matches, followed by a final day of awards with parents invited.

"It’s important that each participant can look forward to some form of recognition," notes Peter. "Of course, trophies were awarded to winners of the various competitions. But everybody who took part during the week received a medal. Some parents told me that they now want their children to continue coming to the sports centre for youth clubs which meet weekly during term time."

These youth clubs are well attended and half-time includes both refreshments and a Bible-based talk.

"The majority of youngsters who attend come from other faiths," explains Colin Bellamy, Elder of Smethwick Gospel Hall. "This outreach would be the only Christian teaching they receive."

For more information, please visit www.oacgb.org.uk or call 020 8360 5788.

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