It's a weird day when Dennis Rodman inspires hope for missional access to restricted countries. But as crazy as it sounds, "The Worm" has shed light (some positive, some negative) on this important issue. Most of us know Rodman's story: he was the hard-charging power forward for the Chicago Bulls in the late 90's, known for his tattoos and wild hair as much as his All Star level rebounds. And while that act eventually translated into five championships on the floor, (with a little help from a guy named Jordan) off the floor, Rodman's persona was tailor-made for reality TV.
His post-basketball career has included everything from professional wrestling to the Celebrity Apprentice. So it makes perfect sense that the guy who once promoted his autobiography by wearing a wedding dress would find his next gig in foreign diplomacy.
Rodman recently returned from North Korea where he was wined and dined by Kim Jong Un. And while Rodman claims to have "made history" with his visit to the famously enigmatic and tight-fisted country, many, if not all, political commentators agree that no progress was made, other than adding another bizarre chapter to North Korea's history.
Despite a basic awareness of the brutality of the North Korean government and a blatantly obvious attempt to remain in the public eye, Rodman rightly points out that sports can be a powerful mediator. And while basketball alone is not enough to change government policy or eliminate missile programs, it is very good at beginning conversations, developing relationships and building trust.
This is the basis for our entire organization. Sports are uniquely positioned to cut through culture, language and gender in a way that few other mediums can. And while it is insufficient to lead our brothers and sisters to faith, it has proven time and time again as a stepping-stone to deeper relationships.
Unlike Rodman, however, we believe a humble posture is essential to evangelism and church planting. Missional movements must operate under the banner; "he must become greater, I must become less." We do not seek media attention or public praise; our work is for the good of our neighbors and the glory of our God.
Our savior did not enter our world with flamboyant hair, TV cameras, surrounded by paparazzi; rather he came quietly, subtlety, humbly. If the Creator of all things went unnoticed for thirty years in a carpenter's shop, perhaps he will bless the soccer clinics and basketball tournaments of humble missionaries in hostile countries.