St. Christopher’s, a predominantly Chinese church in north Toronto, has a group of members who, for years, have loved to play ping pong. However, since November of 2017 ping pong has become a missional bridge as our church began to build a relationship with a local Toronto high school.
We discovered that many teens at Bayview Secondary also love to play ping pong. The problem was they had nowhere to play. As a result, the church decided to start a Ping Pong/Board Game club on Thursday afternoons. The church’s English Ministry Pastor, Michele Taylor, spearheaded this new outreach to local students. In the meantime, we purchased 16 new ping pong rackets.
Ping Pong leads to Relationship-building
The Ping Pong/Board Game club started with 8 youth. It has steadily grown to 25 students; tripling in just 4 months. Every Thursday at 4:30 p.m., Pastor Michele leads a discussion time with the teens about mental health issues or Christian teachings. Relationships have started to grow. In the meantime, a couple who had joined the church in the spring of 2017, brought over 10 new people to play ping pong weekly. This led to St. Christopher offering ping pong sessions on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Now there are dozens of people playing ping pong weekly at St Christopher’s! More new relationships are flourishing.
Besides being a great way to build relationships with people in the neighbourhood, we wondered how we could channel this excellent enthusiasm for an even greater good. We decided to use this momentum to both strengthen our church team spirit and partner with our new friends to raise money for a great cause.
FaithWorks Fundraising Event
We decided to have a fundraising event for FaithWorks, a diocesan fund that provides much needed support to 18 non-profit organizations under its umbrella. The vehicle to raise money, while also furthering new relationships, would be an 18-hour Ping Pong Relay Marathon.
Once this idea was shared, everyone got excited about making it happen. An organizing committee set two goals: raise $6000 and have 60 people participate in the relay. All players endeavoured to find individuals to sponsor them. In our church announcements, we urged all church members, “If you are not playing, please sponsor someone else to play.” The responses were extremely positive!
Marathon Relay Days
We started each of the two marathon relay days (March 22 and 24) with a prayer to remember the ministries of all eighteen FaithWorks organizations. These organizations provide much needed support to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. There was tremendous energy in the room to support that work. Then the games began!
Some people came to play for an hour, others played for 6 hours. By the end of Day 1, we raised $2950 with 53 players. Then on Day 2, by the 12th hour, we were edging close to our target of $6000. By the end of the 18th hour, we surpassed our target and reached $8812. Donations continued to flow and by the time all donations were in we had raised $9002 with over 60 players contributing to the project!
God and Ping Pong
Parishioners and people from the community not only had a great time playing and raising money. They also had a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other. Many of these relationships continue to thrive. One person has started to join in one of our outreach groups. We thank God for all these blessings! As Paul says in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” The last few months have taught our church that God can even work Ping Pong into his plans.