by Danielle Thomas
SportQuest (SQ) is a Christian missions organization that sends teams of high school and college athletes to cities all over the world to use sports camps to share the gospel with children.
Since 2006, I have been on ten SQ teams in seven cities and three countries. But, Baton Rouge is my favorite. I moved here in 2010 to attend graduate school. The Lord called me to be a missionary when I was 16 and, frankly, Baton Rouge was a disappointing destination. I thought the Lord would send me overseas after college, but instead, he made it clear I needed to attend LSU in Baton Rouge. Near the end of my first year here, The Chapel led a service project in Gardere, which I had never heard of even though I lived less than ten minutes away.
During the project, I noticed no one was engaging the kids in the park. I used my SQ experience to coordinate some games, and other people joined the fun. Soon I stepped back to watch volunteers play basketball, soccer, and football with 50-60 children. The Holy Spirit struck like lightening saying, “Here. This is where I want you.” And the call to missions when I was 16-years-old began to be worked out in the most unexpected of ways. My mission was to use sports to build relationships and share the gospel in Gardere.
SportQuest Baton Rouge (SQBR) has taken place in Gardere every summer since 2012. Each year, the Lord reveals a deeper picture of the spiritual battle being waged in Gardere. In 2012, I saw strongholds of darkness that exist in the neighborhood, but in 2013, I received a vision of light conquering that darkness. In 2014, God provided the first fruits when several children asked to begin relationships with Christ and a local volunteer was baptized. Additionally, the Lord began to build strongholds of light in Gardere to resist the darkness, and several Christian organizations established offices in the community.
In 2015, God reminded me his plans are greater than mine, and challenged me to trust him in every moment. Rain and storms threatened camp each day, but when plans failed, the Lord provided alternative ministry opportunities. Resistance and setbacks are a part of spiritual warfare, but God works out his plans in spite of, and even through, these storms.
God has used SQBR to sow Gospel seeds in Gardere every summer. He has planted me in the community and continues to provide ministry roots through relationships with people from Gardere who are passionate about serving their community and partnerships with other organizations. There is currently a Christian school, Christian tutoring center, and Christian sports program operating year-round in Gardere. The Lord is using his people to crush strongholds of darkness and shine his healing light in the broken places. I’m excited to be a part of his work in Gardere, and so thankful he sent me to Baton Rouge. There’s no place I’d rather be right now than here.
ABOUT DANIELLE: Danielle is a sixth year graduate student, and a graduate instructor, in sociology at LSU. Every year she gets a little crazier and busier as the Lord leads her deeper into ministry in Gardere. Her dissertation research focuses on the Gardere Youth Alliance (GYA) football and cheerleading program (Go Packers!) and she was recently hired as the assistant to the Director of the GYA. She will be planning the fifth SQBR project right around the time she is trying to write and defend her dissertation next summer (pray for her sanity!). If you would like to join the Lord’s work in Gardere through praying, giving, or serving in tutoring and/or athletic programs, email Danielle at Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org