by Kyle Stramara, Harrisburg District Director, Push the Rock
In 2012, in the face of more invitations for The Saints Prison Ministry’s basketball team than we could answer, Frank reached out to a local sports ministry with an idea. Since they focused on running basketball camps for youth, then the leaders can surely play the game fairly well and we could ask them to fill some dates for us. Little did he know then what God had in store for all of those involved!
My name is Kyle Stramara and I am a full-time staff member with Push The Rock, currently working from our Harrisburg District Office. At Push The Rock our vision is to be a global leader in sports ministry, impacting the world for Jesus Christ… one life at a time! Now that you know our vision, it should be no surprise to you that our partnership with The Saints Prison Ministry is one of extreme value to us.
Push The Rock began in 1997 as one basketball camp in Macungie, Pennsylvania. The organization started with the goal of using sports as a vehicle to share the love of Jesus Christ with anyone with whom we came in contact. Since then, as The Lord has led, our ministry has grown into so much more.
For a very long time our focus and target audience revolved around youth. Our summer sports camps began to grow in numbers as we partnered with local churches and began to use other sports than basketball to share the Gospel. However, we began to notice that our entire ministry was focused on children ages 4-16 and we longed for opportunity to use sports to share Christ with an older demographic.
This is where The Saints stepped in and answered our prayers to The Lord. In the winter of 2012, we were visited by The Saints Prison Ministry and challenged to get a basketball team together to play a game at SCI Dallas in Pennsylvania. Finally, an opportunity to uses sports to share our love for Jesus Christ with adults!
From the very beginning Frank Zeidler and The Saints made us feel like family. I strongly believe that the best way to teach someone something is not face to face; rather it is shoulder and shoulder. The Saints did a great job exemplifying this as they walked shoulder and shoulder with us into this new avenue of ministry. Along with willing hearts to serve, The Saints brought with them a name that has been recognized for its athletic prison ministry for over 25 years and it has been our honor to learn from the best.
We fell in love with the way The Saints do ministry and we were quickly asking for ways to grow and continue working together. Since that first game in 2012, The Saints Prison Ministry and Push The Rock have grown this partnership from playing two games that first season to a scheduled eight games in the upcoming 2016 season.
“I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” -Matthew 25:36.
This verse comes to mind when I think about what The Saints embody and what they have done for us. We now have the opportunity to put this verse into action as we use the sport of basketball to share Jesus with the inmates we come across on the court. It has been such a blessing to my personal walk with Jesus and for many team members through the years. Although the focus is definitely on the inmates, we have found that the biblical mandate to build disciples is fulfilled through relationships on our basketball team as well. What a blessing it is for Push The Rock and The Saints Prison Ministry to walk side by side fulfilling God’s call to make disciples of all nations.