As Christians, when we talk about places to witness and share our faith, we immediately think about our jobs, schools and community. While these are great settings to interact with non-believers and share God’s love, we are living in an era that allows us to witness in nontraditional settings. 1 Peter 3:15 states that we should revere Christ as Lord in our hearts and always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have… [emphasis added] (NIV).
To always be prepared to witness of our hope, means we are no longer only waiting to interact with someone at work or college, but we are anticipating the opportunity to do it in the supermarket, social media and yes, while we are working out. Here are some practical ways to witness while exercising or practicing a sports activity.
Wear Christian gear and apparel
Stephen Curry has gained a lot of media attention for his impressive crossovers and out of balance 3-point shots. Nonetheless, his Christian faith has also shines in and out of the court. Under Armour was the only company willing to sign him, accepting his terms to include Phil. 4:13 on the front of his sneakers. You might not have the massive audience Curry boasts of, but you can certainly make a statement of faith when you step out your house for that jog around the park.
Active Faith is one of the leading companies in Christian sports apparel. You can shop online and find great gear with Bible text and quotes that will stand out while you are shooting hoops with your friends or just jogging. If you want to go one step further, you can also buy your own dri-fit T-shirts and personalize them with your favorite Bible text or image. Doing so may prove a blessing for the person working out behind you.
Eat and share Seventh-day Adventist food products
What you eat before, during and after a workout is key to the success of your exercise routine. But not only can the right food assist your workout, it can also become a great conversation starter among your friends and even strangers. If you are the type of fitness person who carries a workout snack while at the gym, cycling or any other activity, change your traditional snacks, protein bars and shakes from companies like GNC and Honey Stinger to products produced by Adventist companies. A good one in the market is Sanitarium that offers great shakes and snacks in their UP & GO line.
Also, if you like to train with non-believing friends, stop by your local ABC or shop online on Amazon and get some Caroline’s and Loma Lind food products. Volunteer to prepare the post- workout meal for your friends. Whichever the case, people will certainly inquire about your snacks and food, giving you a great opportunity to testify about the health reform, which at the end, also leads to Jesus.
Use a Christian playlist
People want to know what you are listening to as you exercise. More than 20,000 searches are made each month with the phrase “best workout music.” The sad part? Not many Christian playlists are appearing on the top charts. Let’s be honest, even though we shouldn’t be working out with music (according to scientist’s recommendations), most of us do. While our music preference–specifically Christian–might vary, music will always be a great witnessing tool.
With so many apps to listen and share music, testifying through this means has never been easier. Let your friends know what you are listening to at the gym through Facebook. Make your Christian workout playlist on YouTube public. Share a new song from your favorite artist with a friend and let people know how God speaks to you every time you are listening to that song while jogging through His creation.
Pray before you begin
As a road cyclist myself, prayer is way more important than stretching. Believe me! Stretching doesn’t have the power to save me from a foolish car driver as prayer does. If you tend to participate in high-risk sports, and others will be joining you, I can assure you that God will send His guardian angels to protect non-believers just because you prayed with them.
Too shy to do it? Your friends are too secular? You are new to the pack? Then do it alone. But don’t go into the corner where no one can see you. Just close your eyes for 30 seconds and speak to God. There will come a moment in which people around you will want to benefit from that 30-second request of protection and blessings.
Don’t work out on Sabbaths
Please don’t get me wrong. If you want to go to the lake with the family for a nature walk to appreciate God’s marvelous creation, please do so. If there’s a beautiful view on top of a mountain that requires a little hike, and getting up there will bring you closer to God, please let me know so that I can hike with you.
However, I’m talking about not engaging in active sports or workout routines that you practice during the other six days of the week. How do you witness like this? Growing up as a kid, I used to play soccer Monday through Friday after school with my neighbors. When Sabbaths–Saturday for them–came around, they would always come to my front door at 3:00 pm calling my name to go play. I would pretend that I was asleep to avoid them, and my mother would always let them know that I was busy. She wasn’t covering for me. Instead, she was making me understand that I needed to face them and explain why I didn’t play on Sabbaths. While they were never baptized, they stopped playing soccer on Sabbaths.
When Sunday or Monday comes around and you are back in the workout field, people will say, “Hey I missed you on Saturday!” Or your training friends might be planning a bike course for Saturday morning. Either way, what a powerful moment to explain the fourth and most important commandment.
Extra mile bonus idea
We are living in a fitness era. Not only are people working out individually, they are actually participating in many events for fun. After getting church board approval and ensuring funding, form a committee to organize a local event–like a 5k race, cycling circuit or duathlon–in your community. Get sponsors for prizes, water, food and massages. Of course, make sure that these sponsors are Adventists. It will be a great opportunity to make an impact in your area while showcasing the different products God has blessed our church with as a witness through healthy lifestyles.
God wants us to glorify Him in everything we do. This certainly includes our exercise. Working out is one way to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (1 Cor. 10:31; Rom. 12:1). Let us take advantage of this divine privilege we are granted, by exercising with purpose–the purpose of reaching others and showing them the blessing of enjoying a fit and holy body, prepared to receive its Creator at His second coming.
Johann De Dier is a writer and editor of a youth magazine for the Panama Union.