This week marks the unofficial beginning of March Madness (NCAA basketball tournament) with the “First Four” play in games taking place this Tuesday and Wednesday followed by the first round on Thursday. I’d venture a guess that almost all basketball enthusiasts will find a way to be near a computer or television starting Thursday. After all, that is when the most exciting games take place in my opinion. I know I personally planned my travel schedule this week so that I can “work from home” Thursday and Friday! I even remember one semester while in grad school watching the games on a television at our feet while taking a distance education class! Maybe that is why they call it March “madness!”
This week also marks something special for Red Page. For the next three weeks we are going to make a concerted effort to raise $6,000 for the first basketball court in Susani. Starting May 13, a team from Texas and Arkansas will begin building a full court basketball court. The compilation will be Saturday, May 21, with a morning basketball camp followed by the very first Susani Invitational Youth Basketball Tournament! One might truly wonder the value of something like a basketball court. After all, aren’t there more pressing needs? Yes. Yes the needs are great. Yes poverty is overwhelming. Yes we need to focus on education. Yes we need to focus on completing the House of Joy. But, no this is a priority. If we are going to reach the families we must have a way to draw them to the ministry. January 23, 2010, I posted a blog titled “Run for Jesus” in which Ovidiu shared the value of competitive sports in Romania. Here is a short summary:
“During my visit to America I was extremely impressed how many people went to a high school football game in Texas. What a unique sport system in America where everybody has something to gain; values, morals, competitive drive, and sportsmanship. Everybody is a winner.”
“In Romania there are some sports that are popular, but people in general are not practicing sports as they do in the United States. In May we will build a basketball court on the House of Joy property. Hundreds of children will be able to use it and play on it. They will be practicing sports while they learn the scriptures. The House of Joy will be a place for Sports and Scriptures! They can learn them together. Many kids will start running for Jesus because of this awesome opportunity they will find in Susani. We will organize sports camps to improve their skills, both with the Bible and the sport. We will also work to organize competitions with the public schools in our area right on this basketball court. Our hope is to model these competitions after the Upward Basketball programs in America. Kids will come from all 31 villages in our ministry area to learn the skills of basketball, and other sports as well. These sports will give us an audience with the children and their parents so that we can share about Jesus. In addition, we will have concerts, revivals, and festivals on our court. What a perfect place to interact with the children and youth. Everybody loves sports.”
As you can see, the value of a basketball court goes well beyond 26 meters by 14 meters. A basketball court is much more than concrete, asphalt, two baskets and nets. A basketball court in Susani is a place for 2,500 families to spend a Saturday evening together. A basketball court is a place to learn about teamwork, competition, morals, values, life skills, and Jesus. This simple little court is a place to gain the trust and attention of hundreds of families living in rural Rumania in desperate need of a Savior and a little hope. According to UNICEF, “There was an estimated 2.17 million poor persons in Romania in 2009 with rural poverty double that of urban poverty.” The UNDP Human Development report estimated that “38 per cent of rural people were living in poverty.” UNICEF adds that “Some 75% of poor children live in rural areas, where the poverty risk is three times higher than for children living in urban areas. Children from poor and rural areas are more likely than other children to be abandoned, institutionalized, to drop out of school, and later to be found on the streets. Weaknesses in preventive and integrated community-based services, combined with poor family care practices and changing social norms and values have lead to these manifestations.” Inadequate social services, reflected in the poor condition of rural health centers, long distances to schools and poor sanitation facilities, also contribute to rural poverty. Estimates show that only 1 out of 4 village students will graduate high school. Now is the time to reach these children. Now is the time to impact these families. A simple little basketball court will give Red Page and the House of Joy the opportunity to learn more about these families in an effort to develop needs-based programs while gaining their trust and confidence.
The time is now for Red Page and the House of Joy to alter the course of history for thousands of Romanians living in rural poverty. This court is the logical entry point into the hearts and homes of these families. There are three ways you can join our team. First, you can pray for this ministry and the success of the basketball court. Second, you can financially support the building of the basketball court. Construction will cost approximately $6,000. Third, you can financially support Red Page sports programs. Your support will help purchase athletic gear, jerseys, shoes, and educational curriculum.
Our goal is to raise $10,000 by the time the Men’s (April 4) and Women’s (April 5) National Champion is named. Your gift will go a long way in helping us reach our goal. You can mail your donation to: Red Page Ministries, P.O. Box 53653, Lubbock, Texas, 79453 or make a donation online at www.redpageministries.org.
Red Page is a 501 (c)(3) and all gifts are tax deductable. Red Page Ministries focuses on grassroots mission-focused ministry as it works to transform Romania from the inside-out, one rural community at a time. The mission of Red Page is to break the cycle of poverty in rural Romania by empowering poor communities to self-reliance through social welfare, education, and rural development. For additional information you can email us at email@example.com.