RAYTOWN, Mo. -- Sports Crusaders, a ministry that uses sports as a tool for engaging and evangelizing young people stateside and overseas, celebrated its 20th anniversary May 31 at First Baptist Church of Raytown, Mo.
The luncheon program was preceded by an informal gathering time for sports team volunteers and others associated with the organization over the past 20 years to renew acquaintances and recall memories.
The event featured various displays and a silent auction including a variety of donated items, among them autographed sports memorabilia.
Present were Founder Bobby Shows, now retired, and current Executive Director Tricia Alberts with a focus on the theme, "Leaving a Legacy."
Shows launched the ministry while on staff at the Missouri Baptist Convention in 1994. The sports camps that year featured five summer missionaries conducting 18 camps with 273 children, 28 of whom made professions of faith in Christ.
The ministry transitioned to an independent "faith-based" endeavor with MBC's blessing in 2001, and Shows continued to lead it from an office in the basement at his home.
Union Hill Baptist Church in Holts Summit, Mo., invited Sports Crusaders to house its offices at the church in 2002. Union Hill has now given the ministry a missions house, adjacent to the church, to be used to house permanent offices.
Board President Jeff Allee surprised Shows and his wife, Jane, when he announced that the structure will be named after the couple. The announcement drew a standing ovation.
In her remarks, Alberts told celebrants that the lower level will serve as a "hospitality floor" to house Sports Crusaders volunteers whenever needed.
Shows reflected on a crumpled envelope that arrived early on when the organization became independent. Inside was a $10 bill.
"You all have benefited from that $10," he told the audience.
In 20 years, the organization has done more than 1,500 camps attended by 40,250 children. Records show that 4,900 have made professions of faith.
The organization has sponsored ministries in 12 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand and Wales.
This year, 130 camps are planned in 46 communities across Missouri, Texas, Illinois and Arkansas. A team also will travel to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, in July.
Among speakers during the celebration were former Executive Director Randy Curless who, for several years, has hosted Sports Crusaders Live!, a weekly talk radio program that often features various Christian sports personalities.
Speakers included Corey Casey, former Sports Crusader who founded and directs a partner organization, Camp P82, which ministers to children and youth who come from difficult circumstances; Kevin Shelton, board member and international coordinator for SC; and Preston Thompson, also active for several years, who described the joy he felt when his son made a profession of faith at a Sports Crusaders event.