Jonathon Detweiler - Netherlands
CSRM : Resources : Preferred Partners
Jonathon Detweiler - Netherlands
has created a most successful model for the development of the international local church Sports Outreach Ministry
Trained by Rodger Oswald, Jonathon
and his wife work for Athletes
in Action and are excited to be joining the CSRM-GNP network.
Here is a brief biography and a newspaper article about Jonathon
Please welcome them warmly.
Biography of Jonathan Detweiler - Netherlands
Jonathon: Born in Tampa, FL and raised in Marion, VA.
In the seventh grade, Jonathan Detweiler
was cut from the school basketball team.
For four more years, he
Each year, the result was the same.
was cut from the team.
Finally, in his
senior year at Marion Senior High School
didn't even try out.
Now, 20-some years later, Detweiler
travels the globe, proclaiming the power of sports.
doesn't, however, promote sports alone but as a tool to build relationships, ultimately, a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Based in the Netherlands, Detweiler recently accepted a new position with Athletes in Action International.
now serves as the agency's Global Church Resourcing Strategy Leader, helping foster the growth of sports ministry.
Laughing about his
early sports experience on a recent visit to his
said, "If God can use me in sports ministry, he
can use anybody."
didn't play on the school team in Marion, as a teen Detweiler pursued opportunities to serve God.
went on a Royal Oak Presbyterian Church mission trip to Mexico.
Working on church construction, Detweiler
said, "There God really began to remove blinders" so he
could see the world.
After graduation, Detweiler continued his education at Wheaton College in Illinois.
pursued ministry opportunities, teaching at an inner-city church, conducting prison ministry and singing in a gospel choir.
It was there that he
first taste of sports ministry, working to reach individuals in inner-city Chicago.
"We invited people to play.
At the break, we presented the gospel," he
Sports ministry became his profession when he joined Athletes in Action Holland, which is the third-largest base for the organization after the United States and Canada. AIA, which was founded in the 1960s, boasts its presence in 96 countries.
AIA Holland was established in 1998 and has grown, according to its 2009-2010 ministry report, from 120 athletes touring the Netherlands to nearly 1,000 young people serving churches and spreading the gospel worldwide.
While the church has lost its relevance in many people's eyes, Detweiler
said, "Sports is something everyone loves."
Given the popularity of sports, which AIA Holland
defines as most any type of recreational activity, Detweiler
said, "Sports is the greatest tool God has given this generation to reach the world with the gospel."
noted that in the U.S. close to 100 percent of the population has some tie to sports.
No other tool can reach that percentage of the population, he
said, "in a way that is relevant and connects with people's hearts."
One of the first photos to come out of Afghanistan after the U.S. invaded, Detweiler
remembered, featured a child playing soccer.
"Even in the midst of war zones, kids still want to play sports."
In Africa, in the midst of poverty, he
said, "Kids still play."
When people play sports together, Detweiler
said, they build relationships in which the gospel can be shared and eventually other needs addressed.
explained, "God loves people, people love sports, so God loves sports."
did note that some attitudes about sports must be addressed.
While AIA Holland
encourages athletes to be competitive, Detweiler
said, they do work to change mindsets about winning, emphasizing that doing the best is oftentimes preferable to being on top of the scoreboard.
referred to a quote by Eric Liddle, the Olympic gold medalist who was portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire: "God made me fast.
said feeling God's pleasure while at any type of pursuit is the ultimate form of worship.
uses the word "sports" as a generic term to include "almost any physical, recreational and/or leisure activity."
He noted that one group in Romania began a chess club.
suggested that in Marion a group of elderly walkers might want to meet at the Riverwalk, walk together and then go out for breakfast.
suggested churches should ask: "What do people in your church love to do?"
With AIA Holland's momentum, the organization wants to take its program global.
For the last two to three years, Detweiler
said, the group has focused significant attention on Africa.
This spring, he
conducted training in Liberia.
After a few more weeks of visiting family in the States, Detweiler
will make his
way to South Africa to follow up on work under way.
This summer, the group added Europe to its areas of focus.
literature notes that about 80 percent of Parisians have never read the Bible and many of Europe's great cathedrals are crowded with tourists but empty of worshippers.
All the programs, said Detweiler
, are looking toward the 2012 Olympics to take advantage of the accompanying sports excitement.
work is global, Detweiler
encouraged people interested in gospel outreach to say, "Let's do something, and step out."
"I would encourage people if they have a love of sports and a love of Jesus to use their talents for him."
willing to help.