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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This Man is a Keeper

By Nico Bougas
Special to ASSIST News Service

BRADENTON, FL (ANS) -- Meet Butch Morley, a tall, quietly spoken, ex soccer goalkeeper. As a youngster he showed exceptional promise and was chosen to represent his provincial under-16 team in South Africa.

Butch Morley displaying the J316 ministries banner during the Soccer FIFA World Cup held in South Africa

He had a promising professional career before him and was sent to go the UK for a training stint and trial with Stoke City in the English Midlands. He was coached by the legendary Gordon Banks who was regarded at the world’s best goalkeeper until a car accident ended his career and caused partial blindness.

Butch continued to pursue soccer and also started a business with his brother, Colin. Life was all about reaching the top both as a sportsman and as a businessman.

At the age of 21 his born-again half-brother, Brian, invited Butch to a special service at the local Baptist church. Butch was reluctant to go. He thought he was good enough to get to Heaven on his own, or at least he was better than many of his fellow soccer players and so stood as good a chance as anyone to make it through the pearly gates.

But that evening as he heard the pastor speak he realized that all his good works were as filthy rags. There was nothing he could do to earn his salvation. He had to repent of his sin, and put his faith and trust in Jesus as his Savior. He needed a personal experience with Jesus.

Brian encouraged him to go to Bible College evening school. He did this and before long had signed up as a full time student. The next three years were spent working at the YMCA residence where he helped develop a sports centre. During this time he was being discipled and helped in his Christian life by Church of England minister, Ross Anderson and his wife Lindie.

Preparation for Ministry

Butch knew he needed more preparation for future ministry and at this time he felt called of God to return to College to complete his studies. As he prayed about it, he not only felt God was confirming the call, but had the distinct conviction that he would meet his wife there.

Sure enough at Rosebank Bible College in South Africa, he met Becky, daughter of veteran missionaries Don and Eileen Genheimer. A year later they were married. And they now have a lively family of four: Chad, Kirsti, Lara and Calvin.

In 1995 they moved from South Africa to Minnesota, USA. Butch became very involved in soccer through the local community as well as in the schools and God began to give him a vision for sports evangelism.

In 2002 the Morleys relocated to Florida and for the past 8 years they have been in full time sports ministry. In 2009 the Morley’s started J316 Ministries which involves partnering with local churches hosting summer and spring break camps; running after-school programs; coaching in the community; short term mission trips and developing J316 resources for sports evangelism.

Most Significant Ministry
 

Voluntary chapel for the elite group of US under-17 soccer players at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida

But perhaps his most significant ministry is his involvement as a voluntary chaplain to the USA Under-17 men’s national soccer team. The team lives and trains at IMG (International Management Group) academy in Bradenton Florida. Regular weekly meetings are held that are Christian based and take the form of Bible studies and discussions on how to integrate faith in sport and everyday life. These meetings are not in any way mandatory for the players, yet more than 50% of the squad attends each meeting.

This ministry has expanded to the rest of the athletes that train at IMG from all around the world. They have been challenged to live out their faith on and off the field, and many have come into a personal relationship with Christ this past year. About 500 athletes from all around the world train each day at IMG academies in Bradenton Florida. Athletes are invited to attend church with the Morley’s and then are treated to a home cooked meal, spending time in a family setting, which they do not experience while living on the IMG campus.

The J316 Ball

Four years ago the idea of an “evangelistic soccer ball” caught Butch’s attention. Using the colors of the “wordless book”, the idea began to take shape. Butch worked with a graphic artist and the J316 ball was realized. This has proved a great tool for sharing the gospel message. It has already been used in over 20 countries worldwide to effectively share the message of John 3:16. The vision is to see other J316 sports balls developed for ministry as funds come available.
 

The J316 soccer ball has been used to communicate the gospel in many countries internationally

Over 8,000 J316 soccer balls have been distributed throughout South Africa, before, during and after the World Cup and used effectively in ministry by local churches and many mission groups. One Hope Teams from Florida also used 7,500 J316 soccer balls for outreach ministry in South Africa and Haiti.

Churches throughout the USA have used J316 resources in local and short-term mission trips with great results over the past year. In addition to the J316 soccer balls, there are J316 wristbands, and J316 tracts which have gone out to many countries around the world.

The J316 message was also included in 120,000 booklets and tracts distributed during the recent soccerWorld Cup in South Africa.

The J316 banner was held high during each World Cup game attended and even made it onto ESPN and was seen by potentially millions of people. And who knows how many looked up John 3:16 and were lead by the Holy Spirit to repent of their sin and put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ? This is what J316 Ministries is all about!

Butch has a clear vision of where he is going with this ministry, and he says, “It is also our desire to see this ministry used with passion and in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that many would come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and then to grow in their faith to become fully devoted followers of Christ in every area of their lives.”

For Butch Morley it is the best of both worlds. He spends his days teaching young people the game he loves and at the same time communicating the main passion of his life telling people about Jesus and the good news of the gospel.

For more information about Butch and J316 Ministries go to www.j316ministries.com or on Facebook at, J316 Ministries.




Nico Bougas is the International Coordinator of Hellenic Ministries. (www.hellenicministries.com). He has a master's degree in communication from Wheaton Graduate School and M. Div and D. Min degrees from Trinity Theological Seminary. He is the author or co-author of four books. He previously worked for Youth for Christ in South Africa and was Editor of In Magazine and Christian Living TODAY and now serves as Consulting Editor to JOY Magazine. For further, information contact: nico@bougas.info

 


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