Combining Sports and Christ—Manny Maldonado

FCA huddle
Manny Maldonado, Metro Director in New York City for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, has seen the public reading of Scripture benefit his ministry and his personal life.

Athletes and Coaches Transformed by the Public Reading of Scripture

We sat down with Manny and were able to hear his experience with this biblical practice. He shared how this practice has led to transforming athletes and coaches in his ministry, building a rhythm in his personal life, and experiencing a diverse community that is rooted in God’s Word.

SoundCloud Link: Combining Sports and Christ by Manny Maldonado (4:32).

Transcript

My name is Manny Maldonado, and I work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and I’m the Metro Director for New York City.

Ministry Benefits
And I love it because you infuse two things: sports and Christ. For me, public reading of Scripture looks a lot of different ways in my life actually. It’s definitely benefited my ministry in a lot of ways. One way is that we do something that we call huddles, where we do Bible studies with coaches and athletes. And one of the things that I’ve loved about being here has been, you know, we listen to Scripture, but it’s helped us to see our Christian life in the everyday context.

It really was helpful for us to really know, like, what does it mean to be a disciple, right? Like what does it mean to follow Christ? And what I think it has done for us and what I’ve seen and what I’ve witnessed is that it has cultivated a place of reflection and brokenness and honesty. And so, through all of this, what we’re realizing in our ministry is that it’s creating conversation. It’s created some curiosity and that has led us to be able to have conversations, to be able to walk people along in their faith journey and build a friendship and a relationship that can lead to a transformation. And that all rooted in the Bible and rooted into cultivating an environment that’s learning, that’s welcoming, and loving, and hospitable.

Personal Benefits
And even personally in my devotion time, I’ve gone from reading the Bible, actually touching it, to now listening to it and having my laptop in front of me and kind of going through it at the same time. I think it’s been really sharpening my listening skills and that’s really hard for a preacher, being that preachers like to talk a lot, so I think God has been using it to slow me down, and to really think, and to really be a little more reflective of my life.

And, uh, in the beginning it was a little bit challenging, but the more I sat through it, the more I felt like I was practicing it and it became a part of my life. And I really enjoy it and it’s even inspired messages as I’ve been able to communicate God’s Word to the people on the athletic field and to some of the coaches that I’ve been able to minister to and even some of the staff that I’ve been able to train.

Becoming an Ambassador
And I think it’s been impacting my life in such a way that I’ve become an ambassador to the staff and to everybody on the FCA team to let them know, like, hey this is something that’s good. But I love it because it’s something that has been infused into our culture, and it’s helping us to meditate on God’s Word a little bit more. And even before we even start our meetings, we’re listening to Psalms together. And you know, I think God has been using it in my life to be able to meditate on God’s Word a little bit more. So, I think deeply just creating an appetite for God’s Word, I haven’t always had that honestly speaking. But I think that God has been using this to speak to me in ways that have been even more refreshing than how it was in the previous seasons of my life and I’ve been grateful for it.

Life Rhythms
But also, it’s become a rhythm in my life. I get a chance to listen to Scripture, but I also love being with people that come from different walks of life. I’m Puerto Rican and I come up growing up in a tough neighborhood in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. But what has been awesome is to come to a place in the middle of my workday, or in the beginning of my workday, and take a time out. Like in sports, we normally take a time out. But here, it’s a time out to listen, to meet with people that don’t look nothing like me, to learn their stories, to be in community and to feel welcomed, and to feel loved.

Diverse Community
And I think in New York City religion is something that people talk a lot about. And I think people want to see it lived out. And I think the beauty of coming to PRS is being able to rub shoulders with other brothers and sisters in the faith and see how we sharpen each other. And how they may have never met a kid from the Lower East Side of Manhattan on 10th Street and Avenue D redeemed by the blood of Christ. May not talk the same way, even walk the same way, but knowing that Jesus has made himself real in my mind and in my heart, and they can learn from me and I can learn from them, has been just the beauty of sitting with a cloud of witnesses.