Golf Kenya Style
Recently College Golf Fellowship staff Eric Salazar returned from his second golf mission trip to Kenya since joining staff in 2013.
The following is a brief Q&A with Eric about the mission trip to Kenya, golf ministry and CGF’s vision for future mission trips.
Q: Why is CGF involved in a global mission trip?
A: Our mission as an organization is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with college and professional golfers and equip them to become fully devoted followers of Christ. Part of being a fully devoted follower of Christ is being a witness of Him in our home towns, our regions, our country and the world (Acts 1:8). This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to go to other countries, but at the very least we should be mindful and prayerful of what God is doing across the globe. As we grow as a ministry we want to offer opportunities for the men we disciple to experience serving God on mission in other nations in order to help them continue growing closer to Christ.
Q: How did this whole Kenya golf mission trip get started?
A: Back in 2011, Athletes in Action was looking to have a greater impact in Kenya, a country where they had had deep relationships for some time, although mostly through basketball and track and field. Eric Nelson, who is on staff with AIA, and his son Philip had a thought to use golf as a means to further the spread of the Gospel in Kenya. The national director for AIA in Kenya, David Nyamu thought that would be a great idea, so they began planning the trip.
They reached out to CGF at the time looking for potential team members and Steve Burdick forwarded me the details of the trip. I was still playing professional golf, so when I joined the team in 2012 I was expected to be one of the better players… that is far from the case now! We’ve been back every January since 2012, this being our fourth consecutive year and the second year CGF and AIA have partnered together more directly.
Q: Why golf in Kenya?
A: Golf is actually the fastest growing sport in Kenya. It is still primarily a sport for the wealthiest, but as Kenya’s middle class continues to grow, golf has become more and more affordable. Like most places in the world, many of Kenya’s most influential leaders play golf.
We’re given access to clubs throughout the Nairobi area where we host clinics and share our faith in Jesus with Members of Parliament, generals of their military, bureaucrats etc. We believe that if we can impact Kenya’s elite, the country can be radically changed by men and women of faith in positions of influence.
Q: What does “golf ministry” look like in Kenya?
A: Golf ministry is like any ministry: we use a medium, in this case golf, to reach a group of people, in this case golfers, with the Gospel of Jesus. Also like any ministry, it will never be effective if our only point of connection with the golfers is that one clinic or that one day on the course.
That is where Athletes in Action really steps in. David Nyamu, AIA Kenya National Director, faithfully follows up with the men and women we connect with during our time there. We obviously hope for people to come to faith in Jesus while we are there, but most of the time we end up connecting them with David for further conversation about Jesus and what a relationship with Him looks like.
Q: How has this trip impacted your faith and those who’ve gone on this trip?
A: I believe this trip really helped prepare me to serve with College Golf Fellowship. We learn how to share our faith in Jesus; we learn how to compete on the golf course and how to share our faith in Jesus while competing on the golf course!
Going abroad, you see so much more physical pain and suffering than you do here in the states, but especially among believers in Kenya, you see a much deeper and robust relationship with Jesus. They have no choice; they know their need for Him.
I’ve seen many of my teammates from years past experience this same revelation- we have so much more, yet they live so much fuller. While we do have long term goals for this trip in particular, I can’t say enough about how deeply this trip impacts our team each and every year.
Q: Let’s say I’m interested in getting involved in a CGF mission trip, what do I do?
A: First off, pray. Seriously, I still remember discerning that first call to go on a mission trip and it’s a beautiful and rich time with the Lord as you process His call. Pray for us too as we continue to plan for future trips, where to go, who to partner with, etc. Secondly, we are making plans for next year’s Kenya trip, but much more is on the horizon if Kenya in January doesn’t sound like your cup of tea.
Keep in touch with your local CGF staff member, or you can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more information. God bless!