Stories

Moldova mission: On court for Christ

Date posted: 17/07/18

Moldova mission: On court for Christ 

“This is what I love. This is my passion.” That is how Eugene Postolache describes his work for the Admirals Basketball Academy in Chisinau, Moldova.

Eugene, and his colleague Eugene Pogorelov, are examples of the amazing work Admirals do. Both came through the basketball programme and are now on staff, coaching various teams and sharing the gospel with them.

The Admirals Academy came into being in June 2012 when Nicolai Morari, who heads up the Admirals, was asked by the Basketball Federation of Moldova to take a team to Ukraine for a tournament. After starting out with one team, they now have four sides, with players of both sexes representing Moldova in national age group teams. Yet throughout the Admirals’ evolution and development, the vision has always remained the same: to share the good news of Jesus with all those who attend the academy.

Both Eugenes know personally the role sport can play in a person’s journey to faith. For Eugene Pogorelov it was after attending a sports camp at 17 that he made a commitment to follow Christ. Whilst for Postolache, he was challenged to investigate Christianity for himself after hearing the gospel from an American basketball coach whilst at university.

Moldova mission: On court for Christ

Eugene Pogorelov

Consequently, they are both passionate about their work as they share their basketball expertise, their lives, and the gospel with the young players they coach.

It has been our privilege to support the Admirals over the years, through training leaders, speaking at events and helping provide teams for camps. In 2015, when the Admirals were looking to start a basketball camp, both Eugenes came over to Repton Sports Plus to see a camp model in action.

For Postolache, the opportunity to visit Repton was a defining moment: “I came to Sports Plus two months after I joined the Admirals. It was a crucial time for me.

“When I came to Sports Plus, I saw the picture of what I want to see in the future in Moldova: generations of young sportspeople who have a faith in Jesus.”

Moldova mission: On court for Christ

Eugene Postolache

Pogorelov was particularly struck by the impact of Sports Plus on how both leaders and young people played their sport, as a result of their faith.

“It was incredible, and it was really interesting to see how God impacted the sport they play. Now they play not for themselves but to glorify God, they have different relationships in their teams, they are role models in their teams and they try to share their faith through their sport.”


Back Pages magazine summer 2018

This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue of Back Pages. To read the rest of the magazine, click here.


Yet, their visit to Repton not only envisioned them, it also provided them with practical ideas going forward. For example, Team Challenge, the multi-sport tournament which runs throughout Sports Plus, has translated well to a Eurasian context!

Moldova mission: On court for ChristVisits have been reciprocated with Christians in Sport staff and Interns travelling to Moldova to deliver some of the teaching at their ‘Born to Play’ training camps over the past four years.

The most recent edition was in January 2018 and it saw around 50 young people (all aged between 13 and 16) spend three days playing sport, undertaking team building exercises and looking at the central truths of the gospel.

At the end of the training camp, many of the young people made a commitment to follow Christ. But the Eugenes are keen to emphasise that the camps are no stand-alone venture, rather they are just one part of the Admirals’ ministry.

“We are trying to tell them the message of Jesus Christ all year round. Born to Play is just an opportunity for them to move the knowledge they have from the head to the heart,” said Pogorelov.

They highlighted two young players who became Christians back in January.

“After the camp this year, two of them made a decision to follow Christ, but for a few months before, we had slowly started to study the Bible. Since the camp, we have been holding Bible studies two mornings a week. And we can see that they are progressing in their faith.”

Moldova mission: On court for Christ

Eugene Pogorelov (back row, second from left) at Repton Sports Plus 2015

It is a picture of what the Admirals are seeking to do - investing long-term in the lives of these young people and helping to develop committed disciples of Christ who, in turn, will go on to make more disciples themselves.

And what of plans for the future?

Last month saw the introduction of a leadership training programme that aims to develop broader life skills that should serve the 36 attendees into adulthood.

“We want to help them use their abilities and their potential, and teach them different life skills, but also, during that time, share the great story of Jesus. We understand that this is a process, it is not just one or two meetings, it is a process lasting maybe five years.”

This story is one example of the many great ministries across Europe and the world which we are supporting over our next three-year strategic Game Plan. We continue to pray on for all the Lord will do through the Admirals Basketball Academy and pray expectantly for more examples of sports mission across Europe.

 


Moldova mission: On court for Christ

 

“We first met Nicolai Morari when he came to a global sports mission conference. His passion for reaching sportspeople was clear and it has been a joy to see Admirals birthed and grow over the past six years. Nicolai is a great mentor to his young leaders and has always kept the gospel at the centre of the basketball academy with young players and adults all having to do a Bible study before or after training in order to attend. We have been partnering with him for many years, helping provide training at his Born to Play leader weekends, supporting him on their camps and through visits.”

 

Caroline Reid, International Co-ordinator


Watch

To see a short video about the Admirals’ work, visit christiansinsport.org.uk/admirals


 

Rob Stileman

Rob Stileman, Brackley Town Football Club
Rob plays cricket for Banbury CC and is an Intern with Christians in Sport. He is a member of Life Church, Brackley