Ignite International's 2007 trip to South Africa led us to the beautiful city of Cape Town. It was there that we befriended Anne Siroky who has become a dear friend of Ignite International. Anne is one of the best beach volleyball players in South Africa’s history and was honored as South Africa’s 2007 Woman of the Year for her humanitarian efforts. It was our privilege to assist with a feeding program, conduct a volleyball clinic in one of her schools and serve in an event highlighting the community at the largest informal settlement in Cape Town. It was there that our team’s heart was deeply moved as our athletes visited an orphanage for HIV babies. The attendant's words were haunting as she urgently requested that our team play with the babies but not hold them. She explained they felt it is better for these babies to not ever know love than to know it for a short moment and then have it taken away - a heartbreaking realization of innocent lives intentionally never shown love, and it placed within each of us an urgency to pour out as much love as we can, whenever we can!
Once again, the power of sport participation and the reality that kids love to play games took over and lives were changed by a simple ball, a net, and time spent between individuals who need hope and a team of athletes who came with the right words. The team encouraged opponents at our exhibition games, as well as leaders of a community youth program similar to a Big Brother-Big Sister program. These leaders were eager to teach volleyball skills and learn to apply paralleled principles from Scripture. More than 50 volunteers came to a morning volleyball clinic (in a church sanctuary with no volleyball court), and our team taught skill by skill, applying a Biblical life principle with each one. After lunch, the Ignite group and the leaders met the kids at a nearby park. The leaders put what they learned into practice as THEY conducted a clinic for the kids to whom they reach out on a regular basis.
Once again, the power of the universal language of sport.