Posted on : Monday August 13, 2012

By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent

ELKRIDGE, Md.—CrossLife Community Church had a record high attendance at their annual track and field camp in June. About 140 kids participated. Campers were assigned teams, each with their own names and matching colored shirts. Camp began with a half hour of Bible study and learning about topics such as teamwork, perseverance, respect and sacrifice. Then it was off to the races.

They warmed up on the track for fun and silly stretches and then a headed out for a warm-up lap. Throughout the week they learned high jumps, long jumps, shot put, discus, javelin, and hurdles. They also had snacks and games. The last ten minutes of each day was spent encouraging the campers with awards for living out their lessons they learned in Bible study.

At the end of the program, each camper took home a medal and kids’ meal gift certificates from Chick-Fil-A.

“We give the kids medals and tell them they’re not getting it because they did great, but because in God’s eyes they are gold medal winners,” John Mackall, pastor of CrossLife Church, said.

“This year God showed up in an interesting way. The first day of camp the athletic director was to open the shed so we could use the high jump equipment. High jump is a highlight for the kids—a must have. He did not show up or respond to my many phone calls. No one had a key because the track coach put a new lock on the shed.”

Mackall said it was 9 am and the kids were preparing for the jump in a half hour. One of the helpers said he had a few master lock keys at home and drove off to get them. Mackall then remembered he too had master lock keys in his truck for the church trailer.

“I thought, I might as well try. I tried both keys three times…and I prayed, ‘Lord you need to open this lock.’ I tried one more time and the lock popped open and the high jump was set up on time. I tried for 15 minutes on two different occasions to open that lock again with my key, and I could not do it. The coach and the custodian asked how I opened the lock and I told them, ‘I didn’t; God did!’”

“This area is sports crazy,” Mackall said. While reviewing demographics for the area, Mackall said residents chose sports or recreation activities over counseling and Bible studies when asked what they would like a church to offer.

So the church responded. They began a “Get Fit” ministry last year and started offering Zumba classes, aerobics, and pilates. They’re using the classes to build relationships with people in the community. The church is also a lead sponsor for a 5K run for the Elkridge food pantry.

Mackall said that as a result of the sports ministries several people have made decisions to follow Jesus and some have gone on to become church leaders.

John Mackall himself enjoys athletics and participates in triathlons.

CrossLife Church meets at Rockburn Elementary School. They average 80 on Sundays. Mackall said the church has grown slowly and steadily through the years.