June 5, 2008

Roger Almighty: The Worship of Roger Federer

Posted in ATP Tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, ICTA Tennis, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Scott Paschal Tennis, Tennis Devotionals, Tennis Ministry, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:04 pm by Scott Paschal

ICTA Founder, Scott PaschalRoger Federer is arguably the best tennis player in tennis history.

Without question, Federer has been the best player over the last 4 years. Not only has he been an amazing player, but he is someone who seems in his own way to work hard to be a positive ambassador for the sport.

Ask junior tennis players who they want to be like when they grow up, and you often hear them reply, “Roger Federer!”

As kids, most of us probably had our sports idols. Me, I thought Roger Staubach, the Super Bowl winning quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys was amazing.

But, as I grew older, and hopefully wiser, I’ve come to realize people who compete at a high level in their sport, while achieving fame and fortune, are not necessarily worthy of being role models.

We tend to treat celebrities with a type of reverence. I guess it’s human nature. For some reason we readily give these sports idols the reigns to our life, and the ability to influence our history.

Do you want to know how many top 100 ATP players regularly have sex with multiple partners… nightly!? I can name a couple. Should these men advise your son… or daughter… on life lessons?

Scotty w/ Athletes in Action Trainee and ICTA student, Chris.

Chris is leaving soon to play college and is embarking in a life of Christian ministry. What a treasure and a joy to have had Chris as a part-time academy student, and full time friend, these last 6 years.

I remember a few years ago when Federer split with his coach. He said he didn’t need one. So, kids worldwide decided they, too, didn’t need coaches. To be “cool” they decided they were experienced and aware enough to develop themselves into top 10 ATP or WTA players.

Unfortunately, the kids, and the parents who supported their decision, were wrong. And we have an entire generation of junior tennis players coming up who are woefully underdeveloped.

In addition, this generation of junior player learned to believe they were superior in knowledge to tennis coaches.

As incomes dried up, and reputations were damaged… how many good coaches did we lose to this, both now and in the future?

And from this how many kids were robbed of the mentorship and accountability structure provided by a caring coach? Among the most influential people in my life have been the men of God placed in my life who have taught me not just sports, but have taught me about life.

Sure Federer gave several coaches select roles at certain tournaments for short periods of time, and even had coaches here and there for weeks at a time.  But, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m concerned that his overall public theme about coaches and mentorship is damaging.

I don’t know where I would have been without my coaches.

Those coaches in and of themselves by their examples and deeds have taught me how to have a relationship with my Creator, and how to live within an accountability structure, and how to plan and achieve goals, and so much more…

So, to the kid who worshiped Roger Federer and dumped his or her coach, I have to ask if they can see now their choice wasn’t such a good one. And to Roger Federer I would ask if he realizes the difficult impact his choice has had on junior tennis development and beyond….

In addition, kids are highly aware Federer isn’t married, yet travels with his girlfriend worldwide, shacking up in hotels and playing married?  Thus, kids believe it’s cool to do the same….

Honestly, I find it hard to believe she is the one who wants to stay unmarried. She has helped him earn millions of $ for years, and obviously loves him.  And Fed  probably doesn’t want a huge, public breakup where she is left with nothing.  Or a “forced” marriage from pregnancy….

Just get married, Fed.

What are your thoughts on this? Is this the message you believe should dominate the hearts and minds of your sons and daughters?

Should sex outside the bonds of marriage be promoted so outspokenly by one of the world’s highest profile athletes? Does this undermine God’s plan for marriage?

Do you feel good about Roger Federer’s highly publicized actions possibly guiding your children away from God’s views on marriage and sex and family?

Sure, he has his foundation which helps people. And without question, he strives to remain humble and approachable. I think we all really, really like him, right?

That said, I’m not questioning his likableness. Nor am I judging him.  I make mistakes and am the first to say I am not a good person.  I am simply asking you if Roger Federer should be an object of your child’s worship.

Or should you work to replace Roger with Jesus in your child’s heart?

Now, as Roger Federer sees his amazing career slowing, what will be his legacy? Sure, he will be known as among the tennis’ best. But, I’m asking what his real legacy will be.

What will be the Kingdom impact he will have for Christ?

If you are an atheist reading this… you probably want to puke.  Understandable. This may seem ridiculous to you.  That’s ok, your belief that nothing created everything seems ridiculous to me, too

Scott Paschal in Normandy

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Campus President, Emma Hustad, in Normandy, France w/ ICTA Founder, Scott Paschal, and ICTA Women's Pro Team Captain, Rachel Snelen, during 2007 ICTA foundation-laying outreach to Roland Garros

That said, a big question comes up when I talk with kids. I ask, “Who is your idol?”

I listen to what they have to say. Then, I ask them if they understand their choices in life have a huge impact on the direction and growth and quality of not just their tennis, but their lives. And not just their lives, but the lives of others?

Instead of giving my opinion on who they should idolize, I ask them to look at the Bible for guidance.

Like Roger Federer, Scott Paschal is flawed. I have my daily struggles, and I’m the first to say if God hadn’t guided me into Christian ministry, I have no business being here with my life story.

Additionally, I’m not an expert on what every kid should do. But, I am someone who looks to God’s word when I see something I need to improve in my life. Especially when organizing my life priorities!

That said, a question I ask myself is, “Who or what rules my life?” Is it tennis, family, career, ministry friends…?

What about you?

Who sits on the throne of your life?

Is it Roger Federer or Maria Sharapova? Or someone or something else? If so, let’s take a look at what God’s word says.

Jump Down… Off of Your Throne

“(The people of Tyre and Sidon who had sought an audience with Herod because they had been quarreling with him). On the appointed day King Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an Angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” Acts 12:21-23 (NIV)

(Pretty gross, huh? Eaten by worms and died! Notice the order here. First eaten, then died. Not too pretty for a King….)

KEY QUESTIONS: “Who or What sits on the throne of your life? What is my priority?”

1. Is it self?

2. Is it success?

3. Is it stuff?

*A Man Called Doubting Thomas

“Jesus said he was going to Bethany and be with Lazarus even though the disciples warned him that some of the Jews tried to take his life the last time He was there). Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of disciples, let us also go that we may die with him’ .” John 11:16 (NIV)

“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it’.” John 20:24-25 (NIV)

1. Didymus means twin.

“Thomas (called Didymus)….”

2. Thomas had the courage to go and die with Jesus.

“…let us go that we may die with him.”

3. Yet Thomas lacked the faith to believe in Jesus.

…I will not believe it.”

*Our Personal Struggles with Duplicity

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify you hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8

1. In some ways all Christians are two different persons

“I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.” Romans 7:22-23 (LB)

2. Our greatest struggle is within

“So you see how it is: my new life tells me o do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin.” Romans 7:24a (LB)

3. The danger is falling back to our selfish, carnal nature.

“Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?” Romans 7:24b (LB)

*Hopping Off of the Throne

“Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.” Romans 7:24-25 (LB)

1. First, I must determine who or what sits on the throne of my life.

“So why do you call me ‘Lord’, when you won’t obey me?” Luke 6:46 (NLT)

2. Then, I must replace whatever is sitting on my throne with Jesus.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of man who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

3. Third, I must determine that Jesus Christ will be all of all of my life.

” Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus first appeared to them. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hands into his side, I will not believe it’. A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God! Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” John 20:24-29

Closing Thoughts: A Wise Person Once Said…

“If Jesus Christ is not your LORD of ALL He is not your LORD at ALL!!

Can I say something that I think Roger Federer would be the first to agree with?

Federer is just a man, a regular guy with regular struggles. A guy who happens to be a celebrity. He isn’t in any way, shape, or form an answer to or a replacement for… Jesus.

Junior tennis players are a solitary bunch. They seldom benefit from a team atmosphere. Mom and Dad dedicate weekends to tournament travel. Attending church is forgotten. Sunday’s are dedicated for tournament semifinals and finals.

Scott Paschal in Africa

My student, Anastasia Kharchenko, and I spoke to the media/TV daily about Jesus while in Africa. Ana won 11 matches in a row to win 2 ITF Pro Circuit events in 2 weeks, which gave us a large platform to share our faith in Christ.

The family bond is filled with discouragement and pain and envy and emptiness….

I have seen so many divorces, eating disorders, heartaches, etc. caused from Christian families who believe in Jesus, but do not follow Jesus, and have placed tennis as their purpose of worship.

I am well aware of the spiritual battle parents and junior players are entrenched within. As I’m contacted from people worldwide, I work to bring them back to a singular focus on Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible, with nothing added or taken away. Just Jesus.

Invading my life/house right now, and eating all of my food :), are my amazing tennis and missions academy students representing 7 countries. My heartbeat is to teach them to focus on Jesus as their source of purpose.

These kids, and their parents, are a point of encouragement for me as I seek His Kingdom. I treasure this time in my life. Yet, the kids and their families are not what I ground myself in. I strive to base my life in God’s word, to gain Kingdom principles.

Sure, tennis is important. But, tennis is simply the tool God has given us to share our faith and resources. Tennis is not the source of life or happiness. Tennis is just a tool, a Kingdom tool for following the Great Commission as written in Mathew 28 of your Bible.

My prayer is tennis fans and players worldwide would begin to understand the importance of placing Jesus on the throne of their lives. Tennis worshiped is destructive. Tennis as a Kingdom tool is constructive. Jesus must be clearly placed in view and made known as the source of life within your world view.

ICTA Women's Pro Team member, WTA ranked Anastasia Kharchenko, in Africa after winning match. Each precious child received free Christian gifts from ICTA.

When this happens, life begins to come into focus. And you will see your reason.

Roger Federer will soon be gone from the pro tennis scene. Another generation of kids will flock to worship another tennis great.

Federer will be old news to them. His ways, on and off the tennis court, will no longer be relevant.

That said, today please consider who and/or what is guiding your life. Consider the eternal consequences of your choices. Are you choosing to follow a trend? A sports legend? Or Jesus?

On the tennis court, Federer is mighty.

Yet, as amazing as he is as a tennis player, he is simply a person like you and me.

Jesus Christ is the only One worthy of worship.

He is the One that it is an honor to serve.

God bless,

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

May 25, 2008

ICTA Christian Tennis Association Party @ Disney Hollywood Studios MGM

Posted in anastasia kharchenko, Athletes in Action Tennis, Christian Discipleship, christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Camps, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, ICTA Tennis, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, melody snelen, Parent Coach Relationship, rachel snelen, scott paschal, Teamwork, Tennis Devotionals, Tennis Ministry, Typical Parent Visit to ICTA, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 11:59 pm by Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association headquarters is based in Florida, and pretty near Disney World. During some down time in between ICTA mission trips and academy semesters, we decided to visit Disney Hollywood Studios!

What a great time we all enjoyed.

Pictured here to the right is me and Lindsey (she’s also pictured above pushing me in a wheelchair). Lindsey’s Dad, Kevin (pictured above) is my good friend of many years.

He is a medical doctor, and a solid 5.0 tennis player. I bought him his first Bible. What a privilege.

We are so alike it is ridiculous… same age, same weight, same height. God brought us together years back, and that’s when I met Lindsey! I’ve known her since she was just a little squirt in elementary school….

Now, Lindsey is a full time student at my academy and my house is pretty much a second home for her.

As Kevin and I are so much alike… and since I’ve known Lindsey for so long… I’m basically an adopted uncle.

Honestly, it is such a special honor to be involved in shaping and molding the lives of the next generation.

I know God placed special people in my life when I was a teen, and now it feels awesome to be able to be used by God to give back!

While some of my academy students won’t be here til the summer semester begins in a week or so, several are here and we all enjoyed hanging out together.

Anastasia Kharchenko (on left w/ Melody Snelen) is back home with me getting some rest after many weeks on the ITF Pro Circuit competing in pro tennis tournaments, and serving on the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team.

Ana is my “adopted daughter” from Ukraine and a new Christian. She loves Jesus so much and wants to share her knowledge of Him to other players on the pro tour.

This year, 18 year old Anastasia earned her WTA pro ranking, and won two ITF Pro tournaments. And a week or so ago she played a player ranked around WTA #180 and lost a close one… 6-2, 7-5, which gave her some confidence she can compete at that level.

Currently, Ana is on her way to South Carolina to begin a 6 week tennis and missions tour with the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team that will take them from South Carolina to Texas to Kansas to Boston. Please keep them in your prayers as they seek to share Christ with those placed in their path.

This neat guy is Aussie, a nickname we gave him because he’s from… you guessed it, Australia.

Aussie is awesome! What a special, unique personality he is. Aussie’s dad is a pastor, and they own a farm. I’ve coached Aussie full time for about a year.

He and Mark (Mexico) share a room in my house and have become like brothers. They have certainly formed a bond that will last a lifetime.

Aussie has amazing parents. They love our entire tennis/missions academy program, and are thrilled Aussie has grown in so many wonderful ways. Here is an email they sent me last week…

Hi Scotty,

Thank you so much for your email. Our communication with you is way overdue..sorry! We pray for you all daily. David is missed here also, but know without a doubt that he is where the Lord wants him, knowing he is being very well looked after, challenged and guided in life. Thankyou for all that you are doing for him and each of the others. We love to hear about everyone at ICTA.

We know David has mentioned this to you, but would like to ask if it is OK if his sister, Tish, can come and stay with you for a few days. They will fly into Daytona Beach… Tish is so looking forward to meeting you all – I hope having two Aussies isn’t too stressful for you!!

At your convenience, we would love to hear of David’s on and off-court progress, and any ways we can encourage and guide him from a distance.

Thank you again so much.

God bless you and all you do.
Rich & Eilie

So great to have healthy, solid Christian parents sending such special emails of support. It is incredible for me to realize International Christian Tennis Association is having such a discipleship impact for the Kingdom!

Pictured here is ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team captain, Rachel Snelen (left), with “Lucy.”

Lucy’s story is amazing! She came to me not quite a year ago… and she was highly suicidal. Coaches, and life, had treated her pretty horribly.

Boy have things changed! Lucy is on-fire for life! Every single aspect of her young personality has improved, and she is an inspiration to all of us.

She is even an inspiration to her atheist Dad! He is amazed at the transformation taking place in her! In fact, three weeks ago he flew in from Japan. We talked at length through a translator. He asked me to coach Lucy for the next 5-6 years, and was so grateful for my work. I was almost in tears…

He is even interested in investing in condos at a tennis facility we build, if ICTA ever builds one. Since he owns a bunch of Japanese restaurants in South America, I take his investment interest as a great compliment.

(pic of me looking at Walt Disney, one of my favorite people and examples!)

It has taken me nearly 10 years to build International Christian Tennis Association.

As I look around for the fruit of my labor, I have to look first to my academy/missions kids. What a treasure they have been in my life.

Generally, I’m not a person with much patience, and I prefer to have plenty of space around me. But, God invaded my life through kids from 15 countries and 14 US States… kids who have camped out in my house… and ate all my food… and constantly hang around me… and God taught me so much through them I can’t begin to tell you in a simple journal entry.

10 years is a long time. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve grown a lot. Hopefully, I’ve helped some people along the way.

Whatever God has coming up for me in the future, whether it’s with International Christian Tennis Association or not, the last 10 years have been good. Like I said, I’ve learned a lot.

God bless,

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

May 21, 2008

Justine Henin’s Shocking Retirement: WTA Flaws Exposed by Tennis Star

Posted in christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, ICTA Tennis, ICTA Tennis Ministry, International Christian Tennis Association, Lindsey Davenport, Maria Sharapova, scott paschal, Scott Paschal Tennis, Tennis Devotionals, Tennis Ministry, Uncategorized, WTA CEO Larry Scott, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:01 pm by Scott Paschal

Justine Henin, the #1 ranked WTA player, launched a huge, international statement directly at the WTA on Wednesday by quitting as a professional tennis player.

Without warning, the tennis world’s #1 female player looked straight in the WTA’s eyes and forced them to finally listen to her.

Never before in the history of women’s professional tennis has the #1 player walked away!

Magazines and newspapers and TV shows are quickly spreading the “shocking” news…

I wasn’t shocked.

Over and over during the last year, Justine kept telling the world she was getting fatigued.

The tennis gods refused to listen….

And it seems they’ve refused to learn, as well. Instead of looking inward to see what responsibility they have in this terribly embarassing situation, they smoothly moved Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic to the front of the line.

I wonder if they asked young, unsuspecting Ana Ivanovic if she wanted a blindfold and a cigarette.

As much as Venus Williams changed women’s tennis, Justine Henin also brought hope. She reminded us all that heart is important.

She was a tiny giant among towering tennis superpowers… such as Lindsey Davenport, Venus and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jancovic….

The tiny giant brought the tiny female players worldwide back to tennis… the ones who had became discouraged and quit when height took over the sport. Yet, our tiny giant needed rest, and none was allowed by the tennis gods.

When a player becomes injured, the WTA protects their ranking while they heal from injury, thus when the player recovers she can pick up where she left off. I had written an article recommending the WTA allow a player the same protection for mental fatigue recovery, or physical recovery before a major injury occurs.

The tennis gods refused to listen….

Justine Henin’s Mom died when Justine was in juniors.

The tennis gods refused to listen…

She didn’t speak to her Dad for 8 years.

The tennis gods refused to listen…

I remember when she got married. I also remember last year’s divorce.

The tennis gods refused to listen…

Recently, instead of offering players more freedom to rest, the WTA chose to force top players to attend more tournaments by stiffly fining players who pulled out of events.

The tennis gods also made Indian Wells and Miami (world’s 5th and 6th largest pro tournaments) mandatory for players to enter. These two 2-week long events are played back to back.

Immediately after announcing her retirement, Justine Henin demanded her name be completely removed from the WTA ranking list! That statement was huge. Embarrassingly to the WTA, their heavily marketed Maria Sharapova was moved to the #1 spot without having earned it.

For once in a long, long time the tennis gods have been forced to listen….

Justine Henin’s statement is huge.

Professional tennis is about $. Anyone who thinks differently is clueless. The WTA and ATP worship the almighty dollar. Image is everything and players are simply the product. They are cattle to be used to feed the masses.

Troy Aikman, the Hall of Fame quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and winner of 3 Super Bowls, blasted the NFL in the ’90s by saying he believes the NFL players are nothing more than prostitutes for the NFL….

Could the same be said by female professional tennis players towards the WTA… that players are simply prostituted to the masses as a source of entertainment and revenue?

The WTA seems to claim to be an organization designed to represent the players’ needs. Is this happening?

The #1 WTA player in the world, and arguably one of the best female players in history, quit!

She demanded her name be removed from the WTA rankings!

As the WTA’s public relations people quickly move into position to keep the public from seeing the real issues, tennis fans worldwide will begin to see the WTA heavily pimp their next prostitu.., excuse me 😉 … promote their next player, which looks to be Ana Ivanavic.

I have little doubt Ana Ivanavic will be gone at 23 or 24 years of age. Her body will be broken down, her mind exhausted, her spirit broken. Like Kim Clysters and Anastasia Myskina, she will crave a real life and love from people who treat her like a human being.

So, what is there, really, with the WTA? New players simply replacing the old? What do tennis fans truly invest in… why even bother falling in love with a WTA player’s game when you know she’s soon worn out?

The #1 female player in the world just quit! She walked away and asked to have her name removed from the WTA computer rankings! She said “no” to millions of $ in prize money, said “no” to millions of $ in sponsor money….

The Women’s Tennis Association must stand up and take notice of their champion walking away, and they must be willing to take some responsibility for their part in her decision.

I’m no brain surgeon, but I do know that when a champion even hints they are tired, they should be listened to and help should be given. When a champion hints changes should be made to help the other athletes, they should be listened to.

When a young person is in trouble, those in a position to help should help.

Take away the facade of tennis.

A kid was hurting. Her mother is dead. She was estranged by her father for 8 years. Last year, her marriage fell apart in divorce. Basically, her only family is her long time coach, Carlos.

Young girls worldwide chase the dream of becoming the #1 WTA player in the world….

Why? Is it for fame and fortune? If so, they are chasing a rainbow’s pot of gold.

The vast emptiness at the top of women’s pro tennis is a wasteland of pain, isolation, and doubt. For the very few who reach financial security, it comes with a cost. Possibly a cost too steep to pay.

What is the answer? Easy.

Jesus Christ.

Without question, placing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of her life will change the lenses from which life is viewed.

It seems the WTA has worked diligently to allow a player’s sex life and sexual preferences take Center Court.

Yet, if one mentions Jesus Christ, or even the spiritual needs of players from all religions, the WTA gods quickly cry foul.

Did you know not even one Christian Chaplain is officially allowed in players’ areas at tournaments? Why? How can this be?

We talk all day about the technical and tactical game of tennis. We discuss nutrition and fitness. Mental training is a hot topic. But, as much, if not more, than any of these is a player’s spiritual fitness.

Without question, Chaplains from every major religion must be allowed access to the players, coaches, tournament staff, volunteers, media, and fans who want them there.

Terrorism, isolation, mafia, constant worldwide travel, lack of family stability… WTA and ATP players need guidance…. spiritual guidance. And the guidance shouldn’t come from the tennis gods….

When will the giants of tennis past step up and lead? When will our current and former Grand Slam champions reach out for the next generation with the message of hope that is Christ? When will Jesus take center court in tennis?

In America, when will hiding behind political correctness to protect your reputation be a thing of the past? Christians worldwide are being martyred at record pace… they’re being murdered daily for their faith in Jesus… they’re being tortured… and they refuse to back down!

That’s how the 12 disciples did it. That’s how Jesus did it.

Yet, in tennis, including past American tennis greats, we have a bunch of geldings worrying about their reputations.

It’s not supposed to be easy and it’s not supposed to be fun and it’s not supposed to be cool. You are a Christian, a follower of Christ… you are heavily involved in a spiritual battle… you have work to do.

Stop hiding, stop whining, stop being politically correct.

Stop trying to be “cool” hoping your “coolness” will “win people” for Christ. It doesn’t work. Worldly techniques can’t effectively fight a spiritual battle.

Tell this lost generation about Jesus. Start sharing the Gospel. The Holy Spirit will convict those you speak to. Start using your influence to bring the name of Jesus to all people groups worldwide.

Learn to understand how a small band of Jewish brothers sent the name of Christ global. Learn to understand how followers of Christ in Rome stood strong, spoke of their faith in Jesus, refused to waver in intense persecution… and conquered the most powerful nation of their day.

Honestly, I wonder if Jesus would be sitting in a box seat being celebrated during the US OPEN.

Without question, I understand I’m a little nobody in ministry and in tennis. Let me make that clear. I’m in no way the authority on anything, and I can see much improvement I need to do in my own walk with Christ.

And maybe in some ways I’m not seeing the whole picture here. But, that said, you can’t really make much of an argument that I haven’t worked my tail off with the resources and knowledge, however limited, I’ve had at my disposal.

I make mistakes, and I’ve worked to learn life lessons. I’m not even hinting at any type of perfection in my life choices.

What I am saying is when a large platform is offered, Jesus Christ should be the One being celebrated.

Players, coaches, fans… former Grand Slam Champions… should make Jesus’ name and story the focal point. Ask yourself why “sexual orientation” is all the rage, yet Jesus is viewed with hate and anger.

Justine Henin’s retirement shocked the world. Yet, there is a bigger picture here.

The tennis world is void of meaning. The purpose of tennis is void of life. $ and power last just so long, then a need for meaning becomes crystal clear.

If you have influence in tennis, you can have a real purpose beyond yourself.

And, if you are a nobody like me, you can have influence to. Just read the Bible and strive to do what it says.

It’s really that simple.

Read the Bible and strive to do what it says…

God bless,

Coach Scotty

International Christian Tennis Association

April 28, 2008

How to Kick Satanic Tail 101: Scott Paschal’s Rediculously Raw Look @ What Should Be Obvious to Every Christian

Posted in Africa Tennis, Athletes in Action Tennis, ATP Tennis, Benin City Tennis, Christian Discipleship, christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Devotional Videos, Christian Tennis Outreach, Cult Buster, Demon Possessed, Faith, ICTA Tennis, ICTA Tennis Ministry, International Christian Tennis Association, International Tennis Ministry, Nigeria Tennis, scott paschal, Scott Paschal Tennis, Serena Williams, Serena Williams Nude, Sex Slave Trade, Sexual Abuse Tennis, Spooky Naked Guy Chronicles, Sports Ministry, Tennis Devotionals, Tennis Ministry, Tennis Missionary Training Class, Uncategorized, Venus Williams Pregnancy Scandal, WTA CEO Larry Scott, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:59 am by Scott Paschal

As a teen, I had a few pretty straightforward questions…

“Why did my Christian parents divorce?”

“Why did my Christian dad commit suicide in my car during the weekend of my 17th birthday?”

“If God is so good, why is my dad dead?”

“Why do Christians talk about how great Heaven is… but no one wants to die!?”

“Why do Church kids treat me like crap?”

As my young life was being pounded, I asked these questions to people at my church.

(pic of me in Benin City, Nigeria w/ friends during ICTA Africa Outreach)

I quickly learned church people had no idea what to say. Mainly, they would give me blank, troubled, or dirty looks.

I was hurting and needed someone to step up to the plate and go to bat for me. I needed real, authentic answers.

Unfortunately, the people I spoke with had not been educated in spiritual warfare or the defense of Christianity in any substantial way, thus were at a loss to know how to guide me.

I was a lost, confused, hurting kid doing what he could to find answers… I didn’t turn to drugs, sex, alcohol… I turned to the church, and I was terribly let down.

I thought the church could help me uncover the answers, instead the church helped me uncover its own lack….

Can I say something raw here?

Do you, personally, have any idea why you are Christian?

I mean, do you have any real facts about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, or; are you simply a “believer” because your parents, friends, or pastor basically led you down that road without giving you the opportunity to question anything?

If that was the case, what if your parents had taught you to howl to a full moon and drink gopher blood to celebrate the birth of the Goomba god?  See my point here, right?

If you are a follower of Christ, thank God! I am so glad and thankful.

But, honestly, just being a “follower” isn’t enough, and it’s not getting the job of advancing His Kingdom done.  You’re in the middle of a spiritual war…

By knowing Jesus, you will understand the spiritual battle you are in, whether you currently see it or not.

And that is what this blog is all about… learning powerful aspects of how Jesus teaches us to advance His Kingdom on earth.

Most of you who know me have a clear understanding that I tend to wear my thoughts and emotions on my sleeve.

Much as it was easy to read Andre Agassi’s emotions as he played tennis, so it is with me in ministry….

In 20+ years as a tennis coach and nearly 10 years as the founder of a sports ministry, I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff, really bad stuff.

Basically, I’ve seen Satan running unchecked in tennis worldwide, and, as I began preaching and speaking to churches and groups, I’ve seen Satan masterfully taking control of the church as well.

That said, this fool, without a formal seminary education, or really any formal ministry schooling at all, is going Martin Luther on some satanic “Christian habits” which are trying to keep your eyes shut, ears closed, and hearts cold.

With the tenacity of Nadal, the raw honesty of Agassi, and the serve of Sampras, I hope to wake and shake up those people God places in my path. If you don’t like what I’m writing and teaching, honestly, I don’t care. I’m not doing this for your approval. And, honestly, you might be part of the problem….

The following is a summary of what I’m going to try to explain in How to Kick Satanic Tail 101. The full scoop will be laid out in its entirety over at ICTADevo2008 , when I’m finished writing The Spooky Naked Guy Chronicles.

For now, tell your friends that I’m beyond sick and tired of Christians who have no idea, first of all, of why they are even Christian; second of all, they aren’t being taught squat about how to not get blown to bits in the spiritual war; and thirdly, refuse to take their heads out of the trendy “Christian sand” in fear of offending someone heading straight to hell.

Below is the outline I’ve created to help get those interested in advancing His Kingdom and being successful in the Spiritual War better prepared to follow the Great Commission as written by Mathew in chapter 28.

How to Kick Satanic Tail 101:

The Nature of the War

Two Opposing Kingdoms

Satan’s Headquarters

Battle of Angels

The Weapons and the Battlefield

The Basis of Our Victory

Our Defensive Armour

The Full Armour of God

The Girdle of Truth

The Breastplate of Righteousness

The Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel

The Shield of Faith

The Helmet of Salvation

The Sword of the Spirit

The Unprotected Area

Weapons of Attack

Taking the Offensive

The Weapon of Prayer

The Weapon of Praise

The Weapon of Preaching

The Weapon of Testimony

Preparing for the Battle

The Leader

The Passion

The Strategy and Tactics

The Plan

The Wounded

War Zone

Clarity

Purpose

Focus and Intensity

Defections

Injury & Death

MASH Units

Victory & Defeat

My hope is someone somewhere will benefit from my efforts to bring this outline to life.  The longer I’m in ministry, the more I see the vast need to equip Christians to understand spiritual warfare, or what I tend to call it… the Battle of the Great Commission.

God bless,

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

April 17, 2008

Goat Intestine Soup

Posted in anastasia kharchenko, Athletes in Action Tennis, Benin City Tennis, christian tennis, Christian Tennis Outreach, ICTA, ICTA Tennis, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, melody snelen, scott paschal, Teamwork, Tennis Athletes in Action, Tennis Ministry tagged , , , , , , at 7:04 pm by Scott Paschal

ICTA Founder, Scott PaschalWho knew God had planned for me to meet, tear down walls, and build bridges with two people in ministry that I hadn’t particularly gotten along with very well before! I’ll explain…

The end of last week and early this week ICTA Women’s Pro Team Outreach journied 210 miles south on I95 to the Ballenisles/USTA $25K Women’s Pro Circuit Event being held at the Ballenisles Country Club, home of Serena Williams.

Our mission team was already pretty tired from having been on the road for most of the last couple of months traveling to as far away as Africa, to locations in the USA such as Birmingham, Alabama and Jackson, Mississippi.

As such, we had basically canceled the Palm Beach Outreach so everyone could rest, go to church, and recharge their batteries. Traveling constantly isn’t easy. It’s hard for anyone.

That said, on Saturday… the day of check-in for the tournament… I felt God overwhelming my thoughts and urging me to go to Palm Beach Gardens. I’ve been in ministry for a while, and I know when God does this we needed to go, even if I have no idea of His plans.

I asked Melody Snelen and Anastasia Kharchenko, two of my longtime students and team members of the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team, if they would go with me. They agreed, quickly packed their suitcases, loaded the van with outreach supplies (bibles, Christian books, ICTA T-Shirts, etc.), and we were soon on our way. Sign-in was between 3pm and 6pm, we had to hurry as the time was nearly 2pm!

Along the way I felt God leading me to make a renewed connection in person with a ministry we hadn’t visited with in a while. From following His lead, God quickly provided over $6500 worth of Christian books and Bibles and CDs at a substantially discounted price to go with what we had already packed for distribution during the outreach.

We loaded the van with the new outreach supplies and on we went, arriving in time for sign-in with just 6 minutes to spare….

Though Ana was entered in the event, that wasn’t why we went. I told her she didn’t even need to play.

Ana’s body was still recovering from her match with former WTA #14, Elina Bovina, who is currently ranked in the 300s during her comeback from a foot injury.

Their marathon match in Alabama went to a tie break in the 3rd set with Elina taking the victory. Both girls were completely physically and emotionally exhausted from their encounter.

Elina pulled out of her upcoming tournaments, and Ana’s entire body was sore for the next 4 days to the point she couldn’t even train.

As we were not in Palm Beach Gardens for my players’ tennis, why did God want us there? I had no idea, but I did know something was going to happen.

After sign-in, Mel and Ana practiced for about an hour. And we gave another player and her coach/husband a book and a Bible…. Pretty routine stuff, so far.

After practice, we sat outside at the club and looked around at how amazingly perfect the facility looked, and we talked about it in comparison to poverty stricken Benin City, Nigeria where we had recently spent a few weeks.

I remembered one situation in Nigeria when we had basically ran out of the food we had brought from Florida. The hotel had a restaurant, think 3rd world here, which Mel and Ana visited to look at the menu. They discovered the soup of the day was made of goat intestines….

Both girls were pretty grossed out! You expect to hear about chicken or beef or potato soup, but not really about the intestines of a goat!

After laughing for a while, we left the club, ate dinner at a Chinese buffet, and checked into our housing.

On Day 2 in Florida the rains came! The day for tennis was basically washed out. But, the opportunity was prime for ministry outreach! Ana grabbed some books (Captured by Grace by David Jeremiah) and Bibles (a Bible magazine called Refuel) and began distributing them to anyone who wanted one… or two… or three….

Soon after, I was approached by a guy who thanked me for the gifts. Our tennis missionaries had given ICTA Outreach gifts to him and the entire group he was with. I quickly recognized him as someone I didn’t really much like, but, honestly, didn’t really know.

As we talked I felt God urging me to build bridges, that it was time to move forward and I needed to let the past go, and that God had much work to be completed and my idiotic ego was standing in the way. I soon offered well over 100 books and Bibles to him. He graciously accepted… and walls began crumbling down.

The next day he and a friend, whom I also recognized as someone I didn’t particularly like due to past experiences, from his group watched Ana’s second match of the day when she played Sheika Uberoi. After the match I invited them to meet with me. They eagerly agreed and we sat and talked. Again, walls came tumbling down as Jesus came into full view.

I enjoyed my time meeting with Ryan Fitzwilliams and Lindsay Sullivan. I enjoyed God helping me see them for who they are in Him.

Ryan coaches at a Catholic school, has an outreach to the pro tennis tour (mainly the men), and has a growing sports ministry called Match Point Ministries. Lindsay is nurturing the newly forming tennis aspect of Athletes in Action.

As we talked together, I felt God showing me that this was the reason He needed me in Palm Beach Gardens.

The entire visit was a big band-aid covering and healing old wounds. I shared the history of the International Christian Tennis Association (even from way back in the late 70s/early 80s when it was someone elses’ big dream!). I explained how I began in ministry and why I feel so strongly about championing different causes. And we talked about the future of International Christian Tennis Association…

We talked about mistakes made in the past, both mine and others. We discussed the need to not have competitiveness towards each other in ministry. And God allowed us each to begin, again.

I enjoyed being able to spend time with both Lindsay and Ryan. I’m glad God was able to use Ana to reach them as she was giving away ICTA Outreach gifts, and that through the faithful missionary dedication she showed… a God appointed meeting happened.

After we visited, Ryan and I loaded up his Toyota with ICTA Outreach supplies, and shook hands. I felt like God’s work had been accomplished and had a total peace that Ana, Mel, and I could now begin driving back to Palm Coast.

Sometimes in ministry, people can become possessive and competitive. I believe it is one of Satan’s tools to slow the Great Commission. I am as guilty of it as anyone. Especially when I first started. Now, I realize the importance of understanding that competition between ministries is a first sign of immaturity and insecurity in the ministry leader’s personal walk with Jesus.

Possibly all pastors/ministers go through it. I know I did. By nature, I am ridiculously competitive and like to kick butt in everything I do! But, now I focus my energy on kicking satanic tail… and part of winning against Satan means swallowing pride, apologizing, forgiving, and working together….

The main point of ministry in tennis… of seeing tennis as a harvest field for Christ… is to reach and disciple the lost. Millions of people from religions and cultures worldwide have no interest in Christianity, yet love tennis. Tennis is our common bond.

The field of work for ICTA and AIA and Match Point is intense. Tennis is without question the most difficult ministry field in all of sports.

As such, when someone in tennis is reached or is genuinely seeking Christ, they need to see a unified voice for Christ from caring ministries. They need and deserve to see all of us truly interested in putting self below Jesus to shine as one light in places God has assigned us to harvest and shepherd.

Through this divinely appointed meeting, I believe Lindsay, Ryan, and I have just had our serve cranked up by Coach Jesus, and are ready to look for Satan’s short returns we can smack into the open court for winners.

My heartbeat is for people worldwide to see Christ being reflected by the willingness our three ministries show to grow in unity; to support, lift up, and stand by each other as one body… and to pray for and offer grace to peers who continue to struggle with unforgiveness and competitiveness and jealousy….

Last Saturday night at Ballenisles Country Club after practice, as Ana, Mel, and I were thinking back to International Christian Tennis Association’s 3 week mission trip to Africa, I remembered how I laughed when Ana and Mel first told me the hotel restaurant in Nigeria was serving Goat Intestine Soup. They were grossed out, and it was funny to watch their expressions! I was pretty grossed out, too.

And now as I type I realize that as we sat on court after practice Saturday evening in Palm Beach Gardens and talked, I had absolutely no idea of God’s plans for the trip. We weren’t even planning to be there! Yet, God knew His plans. He is in control.

And He clearly showed He needs a unified voice for Him in tennis!

As my players and I left the tournament and drove north on I95, I felt a complete peace about the purpose and success of this last minute God breathed, God ordained ICTA outreach… I also smiled…

I felt God telling me that when pro tennis players and tennis fans, Christian or not, from countries worldwide think of Him they need to see a unified body of people who truly love Him reflecting everything that He is, that we should all be “serving” our best stuff that He has coached us in…

…and that we shouldn’t be “serving” Goat Intestine Soup!

God bless,

Scott Pachal

International Christian Tennis Association

April 2, 2008

The Spooky Naked Guy Chronicles

Posted in Christian Tennis Devotional Videos, Christian Tennis Outreach, Demon Possessed, Faith, ICTA Tennis, International Christian Tennis Association, Love, Scott Paschal Tennis, Spooky Naked Guy Chronicles, Tennis Devotionals, Tennis Ministry tagged , , , , , at 11:35 am by Scott Paschal

Just a note to let our ICTABlog family know things are happening and the party is rockin’ over at ICTADevo2008.

The Spooky Naked Guy Chronicles are in full swing! If you don’t know Spooky Naked Guy you are missing out! I know, I know… Spooky Naked Guy and “the party is rockin” might not sound too darn Christian, but it is and you’ll see what I mean when you cruise on in to ICTADevo2008!

ICTADevo2008 is an online hangout for people to enjoy Christian tennis devotionals… stories… videos, and it currently has approx 300 devoted readers after 3 months. Spooky Naked Guy, SNG, is based on a section of Luke 8, which has an incredible ability to impact my life and yours.

ICTADevo2008 readers have been clamoring for more Spooky Naked Guy Chronicles, so two more have just been introduced with a 3rd coming this week! What a blast to create these stories…

  • March 16, Spooky Naked Guy Answers Roll Call
  • April 1, Spooky Naked Guy Goes Hog Wild

ICTADevo2008 began the day after Christmas 2007. This online hideaway has gained a life of its own. People have contacted me telling of how SNG’s stories have applied directly to their life story, which, if you know me, you know gets me really, really excited and inspired.

One youth pastor mentioned he wants to make a stage play of the SNG Chronicles for his church when I’m finished writing the series! A mom said her son is making a storyboard of drawings w/ scriptures which follows Spooky Naked Guy on his journey!

And speaking of taking on a life of its own… let me give you some incredible numbers about ICTABlog….

Remember, in July 2007 we kicked off this new blog format. That month we averaged 1 visitor a day… probably my mom :).

The next month, August 2007, ICTABlog welcomed 446 visitors.

849 readers stopped by in November 2007. December 2007 brought 1547 visits!

And… (drum roll please)… March 2008 witnessed ICTABlog enjoying 2494 visits… approx 80 readers a day!

My original goal/hope was to gain maybe 200-300 visitors a month. Now, we get those numbers in 3-4 days and that simply blows my mind. God is growing awareness to important issues through International Christian Tennis Association.

Surf on over to visit Spooky Naked Guy! His story is amazing and awe inspiring and worth the price of admission…. which, as always, is free 🙂

God bless,

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

March 20, 2008

Pain on the Journey to WTA Tennis Fame?

Posted in Africa Tennis, Athletes in Action Tennis, ATP Tennis, Benin City Tennis, Billy Graham, Christian Discipleship, Christian Tennis Mission Trips, Christian Tennis Player, Demon Possessed, Faith, Hope, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, Junior Tennis, Leadership, melody snelen, Nigeria Tennis, scott paschal, Sex Slave Trade, Sexual Abuse Tennis, Tennis Devotionals, Tennis Ministry, Tennis Missionary, USPTA, USTA, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , , at 11:12 pm by Scott Paschal

What do you personally do when you see someone being harmed illegally?

Let’s say you see someone totally defenseless being hurt… maybe a baby in a locked car with the windows up on a hot summer day..dscf3959.jpg. and the car’s engine is off. What would you do? Be honest.

(Anastasia Kharchenko (WTA) and “Lucy.” Harmed by tennis coaches. Both now have voice!)

Would you walk by and pretend you saw nothing? Would you call the police or emergency rescue for help? Would you bash in a window and allow the heat to escape? Be honest.

Most decent people would want to help.

But, what about those people who refuse to help. Sicker still, what about those people who receive some sort of enjoyment from seeing others hurt. And, what if the people who refuse to help or the people who gain enjoyment from the pain of others are in positions of power?

Unfortunately, this type of sickness is happening all over the global tennis industry. I know because over the last nearly decade I’ve compiled a list of graphic abuses forced on under age children in tennis by Satanists, homosexual and heterosexual pedophiles, famous tennis coaches, atheists, tennis academy owners, pro tennis players….

In tennis, there are people who are in difficult situations worldwide. You’ve often heard me speak up about under age kids being harmed.

You’ve heard my opinions and you’ve seen me back up my words with action. Change is happening in tennis… as you can plainly see from my last blog entry about how the WTA is now finally demanding criminal background checks on all WTA player coaches…

… which won’t even come close to fixing everything and isn’t nearly everything I wanted, but it is a start and does send a global message throughout women’s sports….

You’ve seen me screaming from the rooftops and soapboxes in places worldwide. Honestly, though, who gives a rip what I say. I’m obviously a nobody. I’m just one voice in millions of tennis voices. In no way am I THE authority on anything… nor is my opinion greater than yours.

The real question is, what does the Bible say?

What does the Bible teach us about those who are helpless. Has God given us any clues as to how He wants us to protect and preserve the rights of the abused.

Let’s take a look…

” The people who lived there were powerless; they were frightened and shunned. They were like grass in a field or weeds growing on a roof when the hot east wind blasts them.” Isaiah 37:27 (TEV)

nigeria-trip1-031.jpgHow do we recognize the face of a powerless person?

Again, let’s look to the Bible… and notice the guy from Cyrene…

“The soldiers led Jesus away, and as they were going, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon, who was coming into the city from the country. They seized him, put the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus.” Luke 23:26 (TEV)

(Melody Snelen being cheered up by local Nigerian youth in Benin City after losing 2 hr match to eventual Finalist, Nowack. All here are faces of the abused. Melody now has voice!)

Back in Jesus’ day, people from Cyrene most likely had black skin, thus were basically considered less than equals to the locals. Notice the guards took Simon because they could see he was not local (of their status)!

1. The powerless are many times considered second class citizens

“… a man from Cyrene who was coming into the city from the country.”

2. The powerless many times have no one to protect them.

“… and they seized him…”

3. The powerless feel they are trapped and have no way of escape.

“…put the cross on him and made him carry it…”

Who are the powerless around us?

“Jesus said, ‘I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to see me.’ ” Mathew 25: 35-36 (MSG)

1. Many children around the world… born and the unborn.

“But if you give these children a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of a lake with a millstone around your neck.” Mathew 18:6 (MSG)

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG)

2. Those discriminated against… by minority, race, social status.

“Don’t look down on me because of my skin color…” Song of Solomon 1:6 (TEV)

“You then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Romans 14:10 (NIV)

3. Those that are trapped due to illness, low income, or abandonment.nigeria-trip1-406.jpg

“Destruction is certain for those who issue unfair laws. They deprive the poor, the widows, and the orphans of justice. Yes, the rob widows and fatherless children!” Isaiah 10:1-2 (NLT)

(Rach and Mel w/ local physically handicapped Nigerians trying to stay alive in 3rd world conditions)

” ‘At that time I will put you on trial. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the aliens living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Malachi 3:5 (NLT)

Bringing hope to the powerless.

“God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” 1 Corinthians 1:27 (NLT)

1. Reaching out to the powerless with compassion.

“You insult your maker when you exploit the powerless; when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.” Proverbs 14:31 (MSG)

nigeria-trip1-011.jpg“When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 (NLT)

(Ana w/ Nigerian youth after winning qualifier match for the first of two ITF Pro tournaments she won in Benin City)

2. Speak out for the powerless with conviction.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT)

3. Standing up for the powerless with courage.

“Your job is to stand up for the powerless, and to prosecute all those who exploit them.” Psalms 82:4 (MSG)

Truth to stand on…

There is only one person who can truly set people free.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for you and me.” Romans 5:6 (NIV)

The challenge: Will we be willing to respond to those God places before us?

God bless,

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

March 8, 2008

ICTA Christian Junior Tennis Player, Anastasia Kharchenko, Wins First ITF Pro Circuit Title!

Posted in Africa Tennis, anastasia kharchenko, Benin City Tennis, christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Mission Trips, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, Christian Tennis Ukraine, Demon Possessed, Faith, ICTA Tennis Ministry, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, Julia Vakulenko, Junior Tennis, melody snelen, Nigeria Tennis, rachel snelen, scott paschal, Scott Paschal Tennis, Tennis Ministry, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , at 10:24 pm by Scott Paschal

dscf3903.jpgCongratulations to junior tennis player Anastasia Kharchenko who won her first ITF Pro Circuit Title while on an ICTA Outreach in Benin City, Nigeria!

Ana, a member of International Christian Tennis Association Women’s Pro Tennis Team, which is a special group of high performance tennis players dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, won the tournament without losing a set!

(Anastasia Kharchenko, 2nd from left, with team in Atlanta airport before flying to Lagos, Nigeria)

The team travels worldwide competing in ITF Pro Circuit tournaments. Each tournament they attend is a Christian outreach harvest field for them.

The road from when I first met Ana to our journeying to Nigeria with her team is a special one that leaves us all standing in awe of the miraculous provision of God.

About 1.5 years ago, an ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team journeyed to an international tournament in Mexico. There they met Anastasia Kharchenko, who they discovered had been forced to endure abuse from her tennis coaches.

nigeria-trip1-471.jpgI will never forget Rachel Snelen, team captain, calling and asking me if I would be willing to coach Ana.

(Ana and I flying to Lagos Nigeria)

When Rachel informed me Ana was from Ukraine, I nearly hung up the phone, as just a few months earlier I had been burned by Julia Vakulenko and had basically lost trust in Ukrainian players.

You remember Julia, right? She’s the WTA pro player who had quit tennis, sank into suicidal depression, and became bedridden. God used me to intervene in her potential suicide attempt on Christmas Eve 2005.

After the miraculous intervention, I brought Vakulenko to Florida and began rebuilding her on and off the court. I changed her tennis racket and strings to give her more control, taught her a topspindscf3924.jpg serve, and showed her the importance of hitting tight angles to pull her opponents off the court. Hours and hours we spent working on her ability to change the direction of the ball with power and confidence.

We focused on strengthening her legs and her stomach, and spent hour after hour on footwork drills. Vakulenko fell in love with dribbling a soccer ball and riding mountain bikes.

(Ana and I on a crazy shuttle bus ride in Lagos, Nigeria.)

I poured into Vakulenko’s tennis at no charge for weeks hoping to re-light her fire for life. Like all my students, she improved daily and loved what and how I taught her.

In addition, Julia had daily Bible studies with my other students, devotional time, and prayer time. We even traveled to an amazing Christian conference in Florida, and went to Georgia to listen to the testimony of a gifted Christian communicator.

Daily for the first 6 weeks, and I mean daily, Vakulenko told me how happy she was and how grateful she was to God for sending me into her life and giving her a new start. She wrote me beautiful notes and cards showing her appreciation.

While the first 6 weeks working with her were pretty good, the last 10-14 days were a living hell. I had confronted her on dscf3946.jpgwhat seemed to be prescription drug abuse. She started going ballistic.

(Melody Snelen and Ana exiting the airplane in Benin City, Nigeria)

Additionally, I confronted her to quit trying to recruit my students to either travel with her on the WTA tour or be coached by her mother in Barcelona. Which, according to my students, she had been secretly doing behind my back. I was beyond disappointed.

She also had set her sights on having Marek Czerwinski as her boyfriend and travel partner. Marek was a full time student of mine and had recently held the #1 ranking in B18 USTA. She claimed she could help him be a top ATP player and could give him the confidence he needed, if he only traveled with her.

I told Marek he needed to travel with several guys his age and ability level to about 35 ITF Pro Circuit tournaments a year for a few years, not shack up with her as the newest boy toy in her life! I told Julia to back off from the 18 year old boy!

Again, she went totally ballistic. (Needless to say after Marek shacked up with Vakulenko his pro career was a huge failure… he won just 5 matches in 2 years. Not too good for a guy whose main goal professionally was to beat Federer.)

dscf3959.jpg

(Ana and “Lucy”, an ICTA Pro Team member who had formerly been suicidal but is now excelling in her joy for life. “Lucy” is wearing her DNO tshirt she is very proud to own)

I decided to not coach Julia full time on the WTA tour. My last week with Julia was spent incurring her wrath. Even so, I stayed true to my initial commitment and flew her to Las Vegas to compete in the Tennis Channel Open, where she officially began her comeback after suicidal depression, while ICTA hosted a large-scale outreach to 50,000+ tennis fans.

In Vegas after her first-round match, Julia apologized for her actions and gave me a big, thankful hug. For 10 minutes while standing next to the tennis court she cried, hugged me, and apologized for her actions the past couple weeks. I, of course, was glad. We then spent the day together, and part of the next.

But, the apology was short lived as she quickly ran back to the people who seemed to have abused her, some of the ones she claimed had helped drive her towards depression, and she began bashing me atnigeria-trip1-011.jpg every opportunity… most likely because of the conviction she felt while shacking up with Marek, who had bought into her manipulation hook, line, and sinker.

(Anastasia Kharchenko with “Ana’s kids,” a group of Nigerian youth who watched her first match and received Christian gifts from ICTA)

Before coming to train with me full time, Julia Vakulenko had an average WTA ranking of just 161 over a six year period.

After my training her full time, the following two years saw her average ranking improve to 76 WTA with her highest ranking being 31 WTA.

From what I understand Julia also earned prize money of approx $500,000 during those 2 years, more than doubling her total from the six previousnigeria-trip1-191.jpg years. She also defeated 3 top 10 WTA players, and made the 4th round of the US OPEN, her best Grand Slam showing ever.

(Rachel Snelen, Melody Snelen, and Anstasia Kharchenko with local Nigerians)

The statistics are there for anyone to view. There is a very clear line of distinction between her tennis ability before meeting and working with me, and her accomplishments after.

There is also a clear line between Vakulenko the first 5-6 weeks before I confronted her on issues, and the two weeks following the confrontation.

dscf3975.jpg(Anastasia before a match posing with local Nigerian painter at Nigeria’s National Tennis center)

Personally, I have few thoughts for or against Vakulenko for my time with her. The past is the past. I hope she has matured and faced her demons head on.

I also am not writing to pat myself on the back. I do not want or need new students and am not even slightly trying to use my success with rebuilding Vakulenko to make money.

I have coached other players who can beat players like Vakulenko 6-0, 6-0. Most ATP players ranked in the 1000s could beat her 0,0. And guys ranked in the 1000s are generally just solid juniors or college level players. That said, rebuilding Vakulenko is nothing for me to brag about at all.

dscf4284.jpg(Ana and Melody Snelen talking before Ana’s Final match)

Yet, though the past is the past and I have moved on long ago, I have recently discovered significant proof which seems to show Vakulenko has attempted to harm Ana’s blossoming pro tennis career.

Yes, Ana. A girl who has never even met Vakulenko. A girl who has dedicated her life to Christ and to helping others. A young person trying to make something of herself in a tough world.

The proof which has been brought to me has me thoroughly disappointed with Julia Vakulenko.

Yet, before I share more publicly, I want to make sure what I have been shown is 100% true, though given the sources I have no reason to doubt its authenticity. And if this information is proven false or even only 99% true, I’ll be more than happy to report that as well.

nigeria-trip1-370.jpgI could film a 10 hour documentary on the ridiculous Vakulenko soap-opera I’ve endured, but suffice to say you now have a better understanding of why I had no interest in training a Ukranian.

(Me looking on as Ana is winning her first ITF Pro Circuit title!)

As you can see, when Rachel called to inform me of Anastasia’s situation and told me she was a Ukrainian, I was less than thrilled. But, Rachel made a good argument and helped me get past my issues to see Ana’s desperate need.

dscf4294.jpgThank God!

(Ana hitting inside-out forehand during Final)

Ana quickly flew to Florida and escaped her abusive situation. It was a pretty funny scene as we both stared at each other in the Daytona airport. I didn’t trust Ukranians and she didn’t know who the heck I was!

Weeks later, Anastasia became a Christian and I became her legal guardian. And now she is my “adopted daughter!”

Anastasia’s story brings to mind Luke 15:4-7

4. What man of you, having a hundred sheep, and having lost one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.nigeria-trip1-398.jpg

6. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and his neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7. I say unto you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, (more) than over ninety and nine righteous persons, who need no repentance.

Ana has worked hard from the first day she trained with me. She is relentless in her ability to push her body as far as it will go. Her athletic genes she received from her father, who was a Ukrainian track star, have helped her tremendously.

Yet, what impressed me more about Anastasia is her hunger to improve in all areas of her life. Once she became a believer in Christ, Ana began reading everynigeria-trip1-410.jpg book she could on the Christian faith.

(Ana shaking hand with Nowak after easily defeating her 6-3, 6-1 in the Final. Ana didn’t drop a set the entire tournament)

This is especially impressive when you consider she had never read a book in English before!

Ana thoroughly enjoyed attending church, studying her Bible, and attending Christian conferences and concerts. Like a sponge she soaked it all in.

After much work improving upon Ana’s strengths in tennis, rebuilding her weaknesses, and defining her style of play, Ana hit the junior circuit in Florida… and went undefeated.

nigeria-trip1-415.jpg(Even though she easily won the Final, several aspects of her game needed to improve before the next tournament, so we went right to work after she shook the chair umpire’s hand.)

Anyone watching Anastasia compete understands she has the potential to become a professional tennis player. Yet, there is a great distance between juniors and pros.

Even a junior as talented as Ana, who clearly is equal to any top 10 ITF ranked junior, is currently only at a level to be competitive with players ranked 250 WTA and below.

Study top 100 ranked WTA players and you quickly realize the “overnight sensations” often took between 4 and 7 years competing on the ITF pro circuits to gain a high enough ranking to compete at WTA tour level events.nigeria-trip1-426.jpg

For Ana, this is year number two in her development.

(Ana speaking with the media after winning the first tournament. She spent most of her interview talking about Jesus. The entire interview was aired on Nigerian TV)

Currently, Ana is not thinking about competing in WTA level tournaments. She knows her upcoming new WTA ranking of approximately 725 is good, but nothing spectacular and that she has a lot of improving to do on her game.

nigeria-trip1-419.jpgShe is enjoying training and traveling with her friends on the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team. Ana is a Christian missionary spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those she meets.

(After each match, Ana jogged 2 to 3 laps with a local youth before stretching)

While tennis is important to her, she knows God may have other plans for her life.dscf4307.jpg

To say I was extremely glad for Anastasia as she won her first ITF Pro Circuit title would be an understatement.

(Rachel Snelen and Ana going back to hotel after Ana’s tournament victory)

She has worked hard and completely deserves to win. No one anywhere has worked harder.

Anastasia Kharchenko has beaten the odds and has earned a rare WTA ranking. Along the way God has been working in her life and teaching her life is about helping others, not herself.

nigeria-trip1-154.jpgCongratulations Ana!

You’ve done a great job on and off the tennis court.

(Local Nigerian woman we passed while driving to hotel helped to keep things in perspective)

You know God has blessed you with an ability to use your life for His will to be done.

The willingness you have to appreciate God’s blessings and use them to share His name to others is an inspiration.

Most people reading this article have little knowledge of the abusive damage done to players by the tennis system as they attempt to rise to the top of the pro rankings.nigeria-trip1-339.jpg

Julia Vakulenko and Anastasia Kharchenko are prime examples of great kids who have been battered by dysfunctional, criminal tennis coaches in a truly Godless international tennis industry.

(Ana and I sitting together developing friendships with locals during Rachel Snelen’s doubles match)

As a person who works full time in tennis as a missionary and ministry founder, I can assure you demonic spiritual warfare is alive in tennis and working to destroy as much as possible.

Honestly, I don’t blame someone like Vakulenko for being who she is. She can’t help it. The tennis system has used and abused players for a long time. Top players often have no idea how to be kind and giving, functional, Christ-like.

But, I do hold players like Vakulenko accountable for their pathetic actions. Such players cannot continue to be the moral compass of professional tennis and the example for youth to follow.

The only compass in tennis must be Jesus Christ. Not me, not you, not Ana or Julia… Jesus Christ crucified and nothing else.

nigeria-trip1-441.jpg(Me reading and giving away Gospel tracts to local youth)

Organizations, such as the International Christian Tennis Association, must be willing to take on the tough tasks of developing top players and giving them the opportunity to travel worldwide in the name of Christ.

Tennis players can be developed as Christian missionaries. Junior, pro, and college tournaments can be developed as a gathering place to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tennis industry companies, such as racket and string manufacturers, can be developed based solely on Christian principles.

pacificlife2007day30212.jpgTennis academies can be developed to add Christian values to the lives of those attending.

People in tennis worldwide are among the wealthiest and most influential in the world…

…reach them and you can win nations for Christ.

God bless,

Coach Scotty

March 6, 2008

3 Weeks in Africa: ICTA Christian Pro Tennis Team

Posted in Africa Tennis, anastasia kharchenko, Athletes in Action Tennis, Benin City Tennis, christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Mission Trips, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, Christian Tennis Ukraine, Faith, ICTA Tennis Ministry, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, Love, melody snelen, Nigeria Tennis, rachel snelen, scott paschal, Teamwork, Tennis Ministry, Tennis Missionary, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , , at 9:48 pm by Scott Paschal

dscf4301.jpgTrying to find the right words to explain the impact the Nigerian people have had on my life will be difficult.

(pic of me with Nigerians God sent to guide and protect us)

To witness the love of Christ unconditionally flowing from people living in 3rd world poverty has rocked me to my core.

The people I met and spent time with didn’t keep calling Jesus “awesome” and “indescribable” when speaking of Him like I so often hear in America. They worshiped Him in trembling and fear and total trust.

I was blown away by the power of their faith and trust in God under such extreme, harsh conditions. Starving kids, little electricity, few police, sparse sanitation….

nigeria-trip1-221.jpgIn Benin City, Nigeria, I personally battled with two thoughts on a constant basis… “I want to leave right now.” and “I never want to leave.”

(pic of me on trash heap inside Nigerian National Tennis Center)

While unbelievable poverty took my breath away, their love of Jesus under such conditions breathed it back in.

My spoiled rotten, pathetically American, Christian viewpoint was quickly confronted by the reality of the Gospel being lived through the Nigerians God placed in my path.

Daily I struggled to not vomit as I openly was exposed by a patient God to my own disgusting, obviously trendy American view of worship of Him.

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(pic of Rachel and Melody Snelen, and Anastasia Kharchenko, with highly select youth attending tournament)

I am truly horrified at my inner lack of true knowledge of what it means to love Jesus with all my heart, and I am grateful for the Nigerians in Benin City who live to serve Christ in trembling and fear.

My eyes have been opened to the fact that my life and my ministry have simply been spiritually dead, though it never felt that way until I was confronted with Jesus speaking through His African followers directly to the lies I had bought into and made a lifestyle, lies that many American Christians call their own.nigeria-trip1-217.jpg

To say I am ashamed is a gross understatement.

(pic of Benin primary school)

Please don’t feel badly for me or try to console me. That’s not what I want or need.

I’m just being open with God’s work in me these last 3 weeks and I hope someone, somewhere can learn from my mistakes.

What I can say is that I hope and pray every American can have the God-blessed opportunity to spend a day, a week, a month, or a lifetime in Benin City, Nigeria. You might come alive in ways you may never have known possible. God’s glory will truly be revealed to you as it was to me.

dscf4494.jpgHonestly, in the beginning of scheduling our ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team tours for 2008, I didn’t really want to go to Nigeria.

(pic of Anastasia Kharchenko hitting a swinging volley winner.)

It was too far away, too expensive, too dangerous, too different.

But, after prayer, I knew God was calling our ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team to go to Benin City, and he opened all doors to make it happen.

My role in the trip originally was to go for just 4-5 days to help the girls arrive safely. God had other plans for my time.

Upon arriving in Benin, after a 29 hour journey, it was obvious to see the love the people have of Jesus. Benin is a Christian stronghold, the last in Nigeria. It is also the country’s capital.

Two thing first overwhelmed me about Benin… the love they have of Jesus, and the unbelievable poverty.

During the first week, God led Nigerians to us to form a team. One by one Nigerians with special skills felt called to offer help. I curiously watched these people be placed in our path. As I know how God works, I knew He had something planned!

Let me first give a quick background of Nigeria and it’s capital, Benin. Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the 11th largest in the world. It is the world’s 8th largest exporter of crude oil.

dscf4251.jpg

(pic of Rachel Snelen reading the Bible to Nigerian youth)

Why such poverty then? The Nigerian government is ridiculously corrupt.

Nihu Ribado, the chairman of the EFCC, alleges past Nigerian leaders have stolen over 550 billion dollars of revenue since independence from England was established about 40 years ago.

To really appreciate this amount, realize it is 6 times the amount it cost to rebuild Europe under the Marshall Plan after World War II, with dollars adjusted for today’s inflation.

Basically, Benin should be one of the richest cities in the world… like Dubai.

Unfortunately, radical Islam has rooted itself in northern Nigeria. The Niger Delta region has 12 year old kids with machine guns claiming they’re sent by God to kill infidels, which is anyone non-Muslim.. The potential oil money from gaining control of Nigeria is huge. The money could wage an unbelievable Holy War.

dscf4436.jpgWhile coaching Anastasia during the two ITF Pro Tournaments and leading the missions team, I noticed something very troubling happening in Benin, particularly with the kids.

(Anastasia Kharchenko running forehand during match in which she qualified for a WTA ranking)

Radical Islam was seeking to gain a foothold in Benin using youth sports.

At first I doubted myself as to what I was seeing. I stayed quiet and kept my eyes open.

But God clearly opened my eyes further. Since I spread the Gospel of Jesus through sports, I recognized radical Islam using sports to further their agenda.

God then used Ana to show me a newspaper article, which tied everything together and gave me proof, the serious proof I needed.

I spoke with a trusted friend from Benin. He told me I am in great danger. He knew the power of my accusations, information, and logical argument, when combined with the proof I had gathered, would cause a surge of anger from Muslims in power and place me in harm’s way.

To make a long story short, the largest church in Africa has been alerted to my findings. They had know Islam has been attempting to infiltrate Benin, but did not know youth sports was a vehicle.

Islam wants the oil money and more radical teenage holy warriors. They are attempting to gain the allegiance of youth through daily gaining their trust through sports. It is a technique which has been used for centuries, and one that I use as well to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As such it was easy for me to see, much like it is easy for one tennis player to recognize another by the way they dress, speak, act, etc.

My last week in Benin was spent developing a plan in cooperation with Nigerian Christian youth sports leaders and pastors. I gave many TV interviews speaking about Jesus, formed a strong team to expose Islam through media, educated one of Nigeria’s foremost sports development experts, and helped plan an informative booklet.

Hopefully, it’ll help.

dscf4605.jpgOn another note, during this entire journey of deepening our faith and commitment to Jesus, our ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team team competed in two ITF pro tournaments.

(Anastasia Kharchenko holding her trophy for winning both ITF pro circuit tournaments held in Benin)

Rachel and Melody Snelen, Anastasia Kharchenko, and the rest of the ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team held an amazing outreach in Benin. More about this will be written in our developing blog dedicated to Nigeria.

For now, thank you for your prayers and support of the International Christian Tennis Association.

I’d like to leave you with an email which was sent to me by the dad of one of my longtime students, Newbie. I did not have email access to read it until two nights ago when I returned home. The timing of when he sent it as compared by the amazing events unfolding in Benin gave me goose bumps and chills.

Thank you all for your prayers. Because of your faithfulness, an Islamic plan to militate youth has began to be thwarted. I think you’d all agree it would be much better for Benin youth to have tennis rackets in their hands instead of machine guns.

The danger we experienced was real, but God’s hand and provision was everywhere.

God bless, Scott Paschal

————————-

Hey Scotty:

A funny thing happened to me this morning. I was doing my workout and God spoke to me and said, “Pray for Scotty, right now.” It was about 9 am. I got down on my knees and prayed that God would be with you and cover you with the blood of Jesus to keep you from all harm.

I prayed too that God will pour out His love on you; fill your heart with all the love that is in His, because He loves you and delights in you. I felt too, that you were under attack, and that God wanted me to share these verses with you:

The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations….
Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Psalm 33:10-11 and 18-21.

He also gave me these verses from Acts for you: Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought, But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found to fight against God. Acts 5:38-39

For the past few days, you have been on my mind and in my prayers. God seems to be telling me that He loves you so much He wants to pour His love and peace into your heart until your heart is so full of God’s love that it just pours over into the lives of all those you touch.

God sees your heart, Scotty, and He know you love Him and want to serve Him. He is blessing you right now. He loves you more than anyone and you are more precious to Him than anything on earth. You are His son, and He loves you just as He does Jesus, your older brother.

He’s asking me to share this one more verse with you: Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. Luke 15:31.

I don’t know what this is all about, Scotty, but I do want you to know you are not alone, that you are loved and respected, and that I stand with you in all that you do.

In the Father’s love. Ken

January 31, 2008

The Lost Art of Discipleship: A Christian Tennis Missionary Stands Up Old School

Posted in ATP Tennis, Christian Discipleship, christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Camps, Christian Tennis Devotional Videos, Christian Tennis Mission Trips, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, christian tennis sport psychology, Coaching Articles, Cults, Faith, Florida Tennis, ICTA, ICTA Tennis, ICTA Tennis Ministry, ICTA Women's Christian Pro Tennis Team, International Christian Tennis Association, International Tennis Ministry, Junior Tennis, Leadership, Parent Coach Relationship, scott paschal, Scott Paschal Tennis, Sports Ministry, Teamwork, Tennis Athletes in Action, Tennis Devotionals, Tennis Instruction, Tennis Ministry, Tennis Missionary, Tennis Missionary Training Class, Tennis Week, Tennis Week Magazine, USPTA, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , at 1:46 pm by Scott Paschal

chris-ana-018.jpg

ICTA Founder, Scott Paschal, and his "adopted" daughter from Ukraine, Ana! Scott is Ana's legal guardian.

I’m pretty convinced discipling is a lost art in Christianity.

Discipling, real discipling, takes commitment from both the student and the teacher. And commitment in today’s buffet of quick fix lifestyles is rare.

Most of you who know me also know I’m pretty old school. But, that’s old school in my work ethic and commitment, not necessarily in my teaching styles.

It’s old school in that when I became a follower of Jesus, I read the Bible and worked to do what it said.

As I grew in my faith, I remember finding the Great Commission where Jesus commanded his followers to… “go and make disciples of all nations… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you….”

I began changing inside. My purpose in this world was brought into clarity. One of my first reactions was to question why not one church I had ever attended had mentioned the Great Commission.

chris-ana-004.jpg

Ana reached #1 G18 Ukraine and #5 G16 Europe. She has earned a WTA ranking and competes worldwide on the ITF Pro Circuit.

The Great Commission of Christ is at the end of the 28th chapter in Mathew’s letter for those of you clueless, of which, after nearly 10 years as a front line missionary, I believe are most, as was I.

As I read it, Jesus didn’t ask, he commanded.

Many people in the world today don’t like that. They most likely don’t want to be commanded, nor do they much appreciate me pointing out their lack. Jesus to many is usually some mix of religions, ideas, and Bible verses which, when combined, makes a person feel good. Their life revolves around them, they do what makes sense to them, and they cannot be commanded.

I understand. I really do. There is a big question of “What is truth?” in the world, today.

Let me give you an illustration of the confusion faced by today’s youth (and adults!) living in a postmodern world. Let’s say you are trapped and injured in a burning building. Smoke is everywhere. A fireman busts into the room! He see you are trapped under a heavy board, sees your leg is injured, and tells you he is going to save you. What is your normal reaction to this? Probably relief, right!? Sure. That is what my generation would say.

But, let me add to the scenario. Let’s say that as the fireman begins to walk over to you, another fireman rushes into the room. He tells the first fireman to stop! Then, he looks directly into your eyes and warns you that the first fireman is actually the arsonist who started the fire! Instantly, the first fireman points directly at the second fireman and says, “No, don’t listen to him! He’s lying! He’s the arsonist, not me!”

chris-ana-014.jpg

Winning a Florida jr tournament.

This is the delima, as I see it, that today’s generation of kids are facing.

They don’t know truth.

And the adults around them don’t know how to reach them with truth.

I think God has given us the answer, very clearly!, to truly reaching this lost and confused generation.

I recently spoke to several friends of mine who are in Christian ministry, heavily, about an important subject. I’d like to share one conversation with you which pretty much reflects the direction of the other conversations.

A friend and I were talking one evening and I told him the main problem in Christianity, as I see it from the view God gave me, is people really don’t understand the Great Commission. He listened politely and intently.

Before I spoke further, I asked him if he knew about the Great Commission. He said sure. I then asked him to tell me where it was in the Bible. He said he knew it was in Mathew, but wasn’t sure exactly where. I asked him if he could quote the verse to me. He couldn’t.

Since he couldn’t tell me where it was and he couldn’t quote it, I asked him what he thought the whole thing meant… in a nutshell. He explained it basically meant to go “win souls”…. I then asked him what the word “disciple” meant. He explained it basically meant a Christian. I asked him about what he thought “to disciple” meant. He replied he believed it meant to go win souls, basically make people Christians.

I hear explanations like his a lot from Christians who are not full time missionaries….

I listened politely to his answers on the topic, as I had many times before to many different people, then I felt God calling me to teach… so I did. It’s important for Christianity’s front-line missionaries to reach out to our Christian leaders and guide them into having a strong understanding of the Great Commission.

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Ana's life has radically changed since she became a Christian here at ICTA.

It’s important to teach you, too.

As you can obviously see, I’m not much of a writer, so lean in and hang in there with me while I try to hit the right keys on the keyboard so this makes some sense….

In his Great Commission, Jesus didn’t command his followers to go make Christians.

He said go and make disciples. There is a huge difference between the two in terms of obedience, expectations, pressure, preparation, and ultimately, a successful outcome.

The Greek form of the word “discipulus” means pupil. Pupil, as in student. You can also chew on “discipere,” which means to grasp intellectually, analyze thoroughly.

Jesus is saying… “Go and make students….” He is saying to go invest your life’s knowledge of him in others.

Jesus then goes on to say, “… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” It takes time to teach someone how to obey everything Jesus commanded. Oftentimes, it takes more than passing out a Gospel tract or going on a prayer walk, both of which are vital to seed planting, but not so good when it comes to the real need at hand as pertaining to discipling. True discipling, or teaching, takes time and commitment, which most have spent the vast majority of their lives avoiding.chris-ana-015.jpg

As a follower of Christ, I know I can’t make anyone a Christian.

What I can do is to teach about Jesus. That is where the missionary part comes in. I teach, the Holy Spirit leads them to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

A person following the Great Commission shouldn’t set out on their journey thinking they are going to “win souls” and “make Christians.” You can’t.

If you believe you can, you are quite possibly falling into the lie Satan believed and taught. That is, you can be God. Your mission trip, though filled with hope and expectations, will most likely fall apart, and lots of people on your missions’ team will become angry with each other. Generally, few you meet during your outreach will come to know Christ, and few, whether they accept Christ or not, will become disciples of Christ’s work.

Yes, I said “whether they accept Christ or not, will become disciples.” You do not have to accept Christ to be a disciple or pupil of his life’s work. The hope and prayer is that through teaching pupils, they come to an acceptance. But, that, in all ways, has nothing to do with you, except that you are teaching.

chris-ana-002.jpgThe part my friend mentioned about “winning souls” and “making Christians” is a pretty common theme here in America. It kind of resonates with our competitive culture….

To many Christians, going on a mission trip is like attending a NCAA football game! It’s about winning.

Church people, especially the Baptists down south (of which I am one), love their sports… NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, NCAA… and they love competition. Winning and competing is a culture. But, does that competitive “winning souls” singular focus enhance or take away from missions? My experience with church people on missions is that it takes away.

Mission trips are seen as a football game, not training camp. Church missionaries are often like the “weekend warrior” who blows out his knee playing tackle football with friends, though he does no athletic training in preparation during the week…

Churches and mission leaders often keep a scoreboard of just how many points they’ve scored as they busily try to rack up souls during their big 1 or 2 week long game.

But, is this what Jesus meant in his Great Commission. I submit that it is not.

Though often well intentioned, the focus of church people towards missions is often misplaced. Successful missions outreach, in my experience, is not about “winning souls,” but I will say it can be about competition.chris-ana-012.jpg

That is, competition within oneself and with a team in preparation for excellence. Competition isn’t negative! In fact, properly channeled and purposefully planned competition can be seen as a necessity.

As a coach, I see strategies… strengths and weaknesses. As a follower of Christ, I see the same.

This Sunday, the NFL’s Super Bowl is being played! Coaches have planned, trained, and strategized every day for a year, or years, to get to this point.

chris-ana-001.jpgWhat I would give to see churches and pastors train for missions with such intensity and passion as is accomplished by the coaches and players of professional sports!

Pastors can be seen as the coaches, congregation and missions teams as the players, church support staff as the trainers….

All with an intent to share Christ and to make Satan seen as the opponent on a daily basis!

With strategies and tactics being devised and implemented daily, weekly, yearly by the church within their congregation until every Christian dripped with knowledge, and missions became like breathing the air at the summit of achieving the victory deemed impossible.

If I were coaching Team Satan, I’d spend my time and resources manipulating Christians into not offending others, and I’d force Christians into the closet. I’d make sin cool, I’d constantly split churches, I’d batter the confidence of pastors.

I would know the best way to extend my team’s time in the game would be to slow or stop the spreading of the Great Commission.chris-ana-008.jpg

If I were the coach of Team Jesus, I’d focus on instilling knowledge in my players about the facts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The entire team would learn about every known tactic Team Satan uses to win.

Our playbook, the Bible, would be proven valid beyond doubt and be studied constantly. Spiritual amour would be a lifestyle. Then, we would hone our skills in practice games locally in preparation for reaching the world.

If the focus in missions is on “winning” souls and “making Christians,” I fully believe we will find our efforts continuing to be relatively useless.

The church must get past looking at the Great Commission as a win or lose proposition. Yes, prepare like a champion. Yes, work fervently with amazing passion and excitement, as you truly are working for the God of the universe which, to me, is the definition of joy.

Yet, keep site of the fact that all pro sports teams practice much more than they ever play. Preparation is a main determining factor in success or failure. Missions is not about winning and losing. Missions is about obedience to following Christ’s command as laid out in Mathew 28.

chris-ana-005.jpgIn addition to attending a mission trip, possibly consider creating a mission life!

Jesus to me is clear… he tells us to go out and teach others about him. The coach in me, the missionary in me, and the ministry founder in me clearly understands the need for high quality preparation and a dedication for excellence.

My hope is that the ICTABLOG becomes a beacon for education and change.

Our ICTABLOG readers are like a whose who list… pastors and ministry founders; pro players, tennis coaches, and juniors; tennis industry executives from nearly every tennis clothing and racket company in the world; television and magazine founders and employees; employees from every section of the United States Tennis Association; ICTA members from over 1800 cities in over 60 countries including political leaders, industry executives, military leaders…

… you folks are literally the movers and shakers of the world. Your spheres of influence are large. If you choose to purposefully follow the Great Commission, either by discipling someone near you daily, or by attending a mission trip to a foreign country, or by founding a ministry… if you all discover the lost art of discipleship, the world will change.

Discipling others takes time and commitment. Most in today’s postmodern culture are afraid of both.chris-ana-006.jpg

Not me. I’m old school. I’ve got time because my time is Jesus’ time. My life is his. I took Galations 2:20 seriously.

When Jesus gave me my house and told me to keep the door open for the missionaries and travelers he sends my way, I make sure the door is open. My life is not my own.

All I have in this world is testimony to the fact I have nothing. My health, my ministry, my reputation… are not mine, but his to do with as he needs for his will to be done through my vapor life on earth.

I’m called to build and to disciple. This has included investing my life, my home, my money, of which I own none but am simply a manager of, towards investment in helping those God sends.

The joys and sorrows of investing in people brings the highest highs and the lowest lows. The Judases ordained by God to be in inner circles are very real, as are the Peters and Jameses. Discipling brings satanic attacks and miracles from heaven.

Yet, through it all, God gets the glory and I build up treasure in heaven whilechris-ana-007.jpg learning to walk in obedience and faith.

Personally, I feel incredibly grateful God sent people from 14 countries and 15 US states to the discipleship focused ministry I founded, International Christian Tennis Association, full time for me to invest in.

God has sent me on mission outreaches nationwide reaching over 1,000,000 in attendance at pro tennis events, and allowed me to preach internationally. And God created a missions team comprised of pro tennis players with a heart to reach and teach others about Jesus, the Savior of mankind.

God has brought me friends, and enemies, both of which have been specifically commissioned by him to grow and develop me past my every dream and expectation.

My prayer to you is that today God would begin a great work in you to open your life to discovering the lost art of discipleship.

That pastors will find even greater passion towards missions, such as NFL football coaches have towards competing in the chris-ana-017.jpgSuper Bowl, yet for a reason so much greater. That Christians realize they don’t need to win, but to simply share.

Today’s world needs a strong focused Christianity able to train the world in all that is Jesus.

Today’s postmodern generation of youth needs a big dose of Old School to pick ’em up and carry them towards Jesus.

God bless,

Scott Paschal

International Christian Tennis Association

Mathew 28: 16-21

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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