Thursday, April 5, 2007

Discipleship and Wimbledon

Can discipleship take place in Wimbledon? Absolutely, it can take place anywhere!

Three days ago Steve Murrell introduced me to man named Bob Kraft. Over lunch I got to know more about him.

Born the same year I was (1957), Bob is a world-class professional tennis coach and trainer. Bob has lived and traveled to just about every country where professional tennis is played. But as passionate as he is about tennis it was clear that he was more passionate about Jesus and his faith in Him.

At one point Bob trained as a missionary with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). From there he sensed a call to reach professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, Nascar and even major league baseball, eventually he focused on tennis players since that was also his career.

Today he travels all over the world as a tennis coach/trainer and attends the leading competitions including the Wimbledon, US Open and others.

His heart is to reach athletes who cannot be reached because of their travel schedules. Most high-level professional athletes live in multiple cities because of the competitions.

I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. Philippians 2:20

I enjoyed our lunch with Bob. Many of the things he talked about confirmed some of the concepts and beliefs I have on discipleship. Here are some of them:

It takes between 2- 3 years to win the trust of these athletes (Trust is the foundation of all relationships and that takes time). The key is to win them slowly, a little chat here, a little conversation there (Slow is fast).

You have to learn how to listen to what they want to talk about, many times people only want things from these athletes and are not really concerned about them. He says he finds many of them enjoy talking about their families (Discipleship and Ping-pong).

There were other commonalities but I will save them for your reading more about Bob in Steve Murrell’s blog about him - The Reluctant Leader with a Tennis Racket

One final note, two days after our lunch I caught up with Bob in our offices in Manila and he handed me a calling card of one of the employees from his hotel. He told that he had witnessed to her and found out that she had some friends from our church Victory Christian Fellowship and was interested in coming one day.

While Bob has decided to go after tennis players clearly he is not just about athletes but everyone else in between. He also knew he needed other partners in minstry and can't do things alone, he needs to connect (Discipleship and Lego). That’s how discipleship (which is relationship) works!

See other post:

Prayer and Superman