The Uncommon Sports Group New York City Impact Weekend was truly a gift from God. It gave me a sense of humility to watch our staff pour their hearts into the participants with intentionality and inspiration. In a city where bright lights illuminate so many in need while the masses walk by, oblivious to the plight and desperation, our mission was clear from the start. Sharing God’s word was job number one and the least we could offer those crying out for love, kindness, and nourishment.
I began the weekend in awe of God’s amazing power, of his vision and ability to build a city with such vigor and precision. The magnitude of the city naturally produced excitement and energy in all of us. That intense energy reminded me of a verse from scripture, 1 Peter 4:8-10:
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
True to God’s word, the team connected immediately as our hearts and purpose aligned with the Holy Spirit, who drove our conversations and interactions. Our faith and desire to grow spiritually brought us all to a place of authenticity and friendship.
God’s orchestration was evident in our first guest speakers: Bryan Peters, Steven Rudd, and Nick Lachney from St. John’s University. All three speakers were past USG Academy or MOAM (Managers On a Mission) participants. They each gave heartfelt testimonials, detailing how their lives have been guided, and how their faith in God’s enduring love has grown since their time with Uncommon Sports Group.
Bryan described a trip to Israel as life-changing from a spiritual perspective. Upon his return, he encouraged Steven and Nick to join Uncommon Sports Group, hoping that they could share similar experiences. The trio’s wealth of faith and purpose was inspirational to all the students.
We then departed for dinner, bowling, and sightseeing in Manhattan. As we finished our meal the Holy Spirit filled our student’s hearts as they decided to share food with anyone in need while walking through Times Square. The impact was immediate and well-received. The team gave away over a dozen meals to homeless brothers and sisters. The team was grateful for the Lord’s blessings and the opportunity to give, meet, and pray over our neighbors as night fell on the city.
As the sun rose the following morning we were all greeted by God’s warmth and light. Our staff had an exciting discussion planned to pour further confidence into our students. Presenting on Gallup’s Strength Finder curriculum, they provided insight into each of the attendees' personal strengths and discussed how best to utilize them for God’s glory.
That morning the students were also presented with a poignant testimonial from our guest speaker, Andy Birdsong, the Assistant GM of the Brooklyn Nets. He fought back tears as he spoke about his journey through the sport industry and the impact Christ has had on his life. It was evident that his faith has helped him cope with his personal struggles and successes in the sport industry. The Lord often works through community and the Lord’s work was obvious in Andy’s testimony.
We all left the hotel on a spiritual high and the group was ready to share God’s love in Central Park. We walked through the park and handed out impact bags filled with very humble gifts: food, socks, and personal care items. We were greeted with smiles, gratitude, and questions. We prayed over many individuals who took God’s love and grace into their hearts. Still, others had a story to tell and wanted to share stories about their life with us. We took the time to sit and listen, opening our hearts to find a common love for God. These experiences and conversations bound us together as fellow members of our Christian family. I thank God for providing each of us with this incredible and truly eye-opening experience. It’s one that I will never forget.
I need to thank Bryan Peters, Steven Rudd, and Nick Lachney for their kindness and faith. I need to thank Andy Birdsong for his heart, love, and for sharing his touching truth of finding his path to God. I want to thank each of the USG Academy participants for their love, energy, and capacity to put their faith into action.
Finally, I am grateful to my fellow USG Staff members- Noah, Mikey, Suzanne, and Seth- for all their work, preparation, and their commitment to the Gospel. Each of them brings a gift from God to pour into our academy and our students. This trip was truly transformational in my life. It helped me see more opportunities and possibilities in sharing God’s love as he continues to challenge each of us to love one another as He loved us.