Spreading Hope Through Soccer with Aaron Tredway
Aaron Tredway is not your typical missionary. He uses soccer as a platform to share the gospel all around the world. Tredway was a professional soccer player for years and then decided to go into sports ministry. We interviewed Tredway in 2013 and talked to him about how his faith influenced his professional soccer career and his involvement with Ambassadors in Sports.
Tredway opens up about how his faith helped to shape his professional career.
“I came to know Jesus three years before I became a professional soccer player and those were very formative years for me. I devoured the Bible in those early years. I was just hungry for truth, so when I started playing soccer professionally my greatest ambition became the glory of god in everything I did as a player. I wanted my life and profession, which happened to be soccer, to be about glorifying God, not about glorifying me. I wanted it to be about making Jesus famous, and not necessarily how much money I made or what kind of car I drove. That really dictated the decisions I made and the clubs that I played for. I had a fairly different route through the world of professional soccer. I had a very brief time in the United States in the top league, but ultimately I went to Zimbabwe and played in the top league for a team called the Black Aces. I wanted to play there because I felt I could have a big impact in a country that absolutely idolized the game of soccer. Those were two crazy and amazing years in Zimbabwe; I was then sold to a tem called Hellenic in South Africa, in their top league. [In soccer, players aren’t traded like traditional sports, they are sold from team to team.] I played there for three seasons. I saw God do some amazing things, not because I was anything special or had life figured out. I really believe that God will use whatever we offer for his glory. Early on I remember saying to God, ‘If you can use soccer to glorify your name, then use me.’”
“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:19-21
Tredway explains how he went from playing professional soccer to getting involved in a global soccer ministry called Ambassadors in Sports.
“From early in my playing career I had decided I wanted to serve God in soccer. At that point I had very limited experience with people who called themselves missionaries or pastors. I just wanted to serve God through sport. One day I went to see a pastor at a church I was attending in California and told him I wanted to be a soccer missionary. As it came out of my mouth we both started to laugh at the thought, but then, to my surprise he said, ‘Ok, cool let’s go for it!’ The church commissioned me and said I was their missionary sent into the world of professional soccer. After four or five years, I started to pray and really believe that God was leading me to be a part of a larger community of people who were using soccer to share the gospel. A community that was bigger than just Aaron Tredway. At that time, I made a list of all the organizations I knew who were using soccer to share the gospel and the Lord lead me to an organization called Ambassadors in Sport (AIS). They are this amazing organizations that has been around for over 20 years. People ask us all the time, ‘What does Ambassadors in Sport actually do?’ The simple answer is that we use soccer as a vehicle to build relationships with people to share the love of Christ. However, Ambassadors looks different in the 20-plus countries we work in. Every country has a different culture and different context. For example, in South Africa we work in different prisons with inmates who love soccer. In the United States, we do soccer camps and we have youth soccer club. In England, we work in schools and with the homeless. In Haiti, we train physical education teachers to run soccer tournaments in their villages. So there are many different approaches, but our vehicle is always soccer and our message is always Jesus.”
Be an ambassador. Whether it is sports, school or your career, God has placed us each in spheres of influence where we are able to share the love of Christ with others. Pray and ask God how he wants to use you where you are at. It might be sharing with an individual, doing a small group outreach or using your skill as a platform to share Christ with others.
Pray for missionaries. There are missionaries all over the world. Some are athletes like Tredway, others are teachers, doctors or other professions. Pray that God would open doors for them to share the gospel with others. Pray for protection as they travel and if they are in a country that is persecutes Christians. Ask God to provide for all their needs including resources and finances.
Send me. Have an attitude of being willing to go where God wants you go to. Often we pray and ask God to bless our plan or our desires. Instead, we need to pray and seek His direction and be open to where he might be guiding us.
To read our entire interview with Aaron Tredway, click here.