Vol. #9 Issues #1&2 Jan-May 2004

From Brent and Dina

Wow, this last couple of months has been a whirlwind of activity. It has been so busy in fact that we have been unable to get a newsletter out till now so we are combining two issues into one. In the last month and a half, I have been to 20 different cities including Tallahassee and Bradenton, Fl, San Jose, CA, Fairbanks, AK, Springfield, MO, Alexandria, LA and Hot Springs, AR just to name a few.

I was doing mostly Upward Basketball Awardís Nights (www.upward.com). For this last trip I left Denver airport on a Saturday night and flew to Alaska and got to sleep at about 4:00am. Then I did a show that night, went back to the airport for a 1:00am flight to Chicago. I flew all night and got to my hotel in Chicago at about 1:30pm and had a show that night and then flew home on Tuesday morning.

The week before, I squeezed in an eight-day mission trip to Rome, Italy with 16 other folks. This was truly one of the best mission trips I have ever been on. Kevin will share more about the trip later in this newsletter.

God has been good but He has also had to be my Strength. In my own strength I would never be able to do all that I have done but 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, But He said to me, ĎMy grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.í Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christís power may rest on me. That is why, for Christís sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV)

Those two verses really say it all for me. So often I pray, "Help me" and "I canít do this in my own strength, nor do I want to so. You are going to have to do it." I think God honors those simple yet honest prayers. God wants us to always be in a position to lean on Him and not pursue things on our own. He is waiting to help, if only we will ask.

Upward Basketball Shows

Upward Basketball has been such a blessing to me and my ministry because it allows me to do what God has called me to do: share the Gospel though my basketball shows especially to young children. I want to share a few comments from some of the Upward shows.

Thanks for doing a great job uplifting Christ Monday. We had 15 salvations, 13 rededications, and two who want more information about our church. Have a great year and I hope you see a lot more people come to Christ from the other awards nights and the camps you will be doing.
Youth pastor-Missouri

Here's some data on Awards Night. The numbers may be higher, but these are the numbers we feel look reasonable:
23 kids asked Jesus to become Lord
7 adults asked Jesus to become Lord
8 adults interested in knowing how to become part of church.
Recreation Pastor-California

Your show was great and I want to write a recommendation letter for you.
Youth Pastor-Arkansas

This is just a sample of the 18 Upward shows I have done recently. The shows were attended by an average of six to seven hundred people with one having 1,300. The great thing about the awardís shows is that you not only get the kids to come but also the moms, dads, grandparents, etc.

The Fuqua's Prayer Requests

  • The familyís health, Jaden and Dina are sick
  • Trip to Ireland in late May
  • Summer camps-Details and for high registrations
  • Glenda Dellinger is a friend of mine from college and a supporter of HOH. Her brother, Stan is dealing with heart problems and her step-father, Jim has lung cancer and is going through chemo
  • Deb Wadleís legal issues
  • Joan Ferrier, my mother-in-lawís friend for whom you have been praying, went home to be with the Lord
  • To seek Godís Dream for the ministry and for me
  • Godís provision
  • To schedule more basketball shows and camps
  • Praise - Diane Winklerís health is much better
  • God continues to bring more opportunities

Kevin's Korner

This issue focuses on the Prison Season and Team Italy.
Missionaries First, Players Second

Our prison season was a roller coaster ride this year with the addition of new players and new ideas for the team. Despite these changes the players made their motto, "Missionaryís First, Players Second." This statement truly defined our season.

The raw numbers of the season only tell part of the story, but they are a key building block for the future. This year we were able to track all of our results through our follow up partnerships with the Saints and Rocky Mountain Calvary. Hereís what God did:

We played in 13 games with 7 being cancelled due to lock ups or weather. That was frustrating. We had over 1700 inmates attend our games. 84 indicated a first time decision for Christ, 221 already knew Christ and wanted a Bible Study, and 129 indicated they wanted to know more about Christ. Thanks to our partners, each of those responses received a letter if they filled it out honestly. Praise the Lord for those results!

Basketball-wise our team went 7-5-1, which was one of our best records in years. Playing prison ball is challenging because our opponents are skilled, but unorthodox in their approach to the game. Our team dedicated themselves to practice before the season, which was an awesome step of commitment. Whether we played terribly or we played awesome the main focus always went back to showing Christís love to these inmates!

The big praise from this season is that for the first time we able to really get organized because Hoops of Hope now has enough staff to do so. The core group of men committed to the ministry will set the tone for the future. Our partnerships will enable us to go back and study how many inmates are still in Bible Studyís over the next few years.

The highlight of the season was at a Federal Prison where we had been playing for 5 years. After each game we left with a discouraging feeling because the inmates would talk through halftime and give little response. Well, this season we were asked to speak earlier in the night. It was amazing because throughout the whole presentation was silence! 11 men accepted Christ and our guys were so pumped up. I truly believe that night was a result of the new emphasis on prayer partners that each player had this season. Your prayers for specific games are huge. Thank you all!!!

Please continue to pray for our team as we desire to play better, become more unified, and learn how to more effectively share our faith!

Team Italy 2004: "I'M ALL IN!"

The World Poker tour is the newest fad on American TV. Despite the obvious fact that gambling is a sin many are intrigued at the high stakes consequences of the game. The highest risk move a player can make is to go "ALL IN" with their chips. This is where you bet all your chips on a particular hand and if you lose the hand, you lose all your money and go out of the game. They say that ability to take the risk is what separates the great players from the "dead money". This idea hit me in spiritual terms during our trip to Italy. How many people are willing to go "ALL IN" for Christ and what would happen if they did?

The answer to that question came on this trip when we found out what a work God can do when we give it our all. Our host, our players, our directors, and the Italians each went "ALL IN". I Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."(NIV)

The Players
Our team had 10 players, 5 of which had never played with us before. As I coached these ten men I began to realize that whatever I asked of them they did and they did it to the fullest. On the court this was the hardest working team I have ever coached. No matter what the score or situation they worked hard and they worked as a unit. For a team to gain such unity in a short 5-game span was amazing. Each Italian team we played complimented their attitude and effort. Our record ended up 2-3 with a buzzer beater keeping us from a winning record. The hoops truly were only half the story.

Each night two of our players gave their testimony and the Gospel in front of crowds of 200+. Each player took the time to meet with fans and share their faith on the sidewalk or even in the stands. Brent gave one or two ball shows each day as well as sharing his testimony. One of the highlights was when our team set up in a local park and just blasted out music as Brent performed. We then had over 100 people watching and were able to share the Gospel as well!

Our Host
Tim Hall and I spent over 10 months praying, planning, and organizing this trip. Once we left America a majority of my work had been done, but Timís had only begun. Tim and Janet Hall went "ALL IN" with excellent organization, planning and execution of our trip.

They arranged each game to partner with a local church in order to give the small evangelical churches a presence in their communities. The team was then able to do ministry in those communities and fellowship with the Italian body of believers. Janet prepared meals and breakfast every day. I can boldly speak for the team when I offer a standing ovation! They took great care of us. Tim also interpreted our testimonies and found opportunities to share the Gospel to fans in the stands as well. Without a doubt these were the best hosts I have had on any missions trip.

The Italians
The first group of Italians I will mention is the Italian brothers and sisters in Christ. Our team got to experience true hospitality when we visited the local churches. The Italian women of the churches prepared meals for the team. We are talking 8 course meals! They wanted to express their appreciation and love through this gift and they went "ALL IN". The meals were combined with a time of great fellowship, which included many testimonies of how these wonderful people came to Christ.

In Italy the Catholic Church has been the controlling presence in the society, the families, and politics for centuries. The evangelical church does not get to experience the mass conversions we have become accustomed to here in the U.S. In Italy, people come to Christ through relationships which last for years. The local churches we visited were small in number, but large in hope, faith, and spirit. God is at work in Italy and has given the church a much-needed boost from the exposure they received on our trip.

The other Italians we met were those in the crowds and on the streets of Rome with whom we shared the Good News. Response cards were collected at each game and will be followed up by local churches. One especially neat encounter was with a group of high school girls on Wednesday night. Tim, Jay, and Noelle reached out to these girls and shared the gospel. One of the girls then came back to our game Friday and brought her mom! Praise the Lord!

The team also took in the great history of Rome and enjoyed the sites. Rachel and I were blessed to have our parents join us and give their all for the team as well. Other missionaries teamed up with Tim to give time and resources that made the trip go even smoother.

So when you get the chance to take a step of faith and serve the Lord, what will you do? I hope your answer is "Iím All In, Lord!"

Boaz's Praises/Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the Halls, Simmons, and Cilanoís in Italy.
  • Pray for the Ostia and Aprila Churches.
  • Rachel and I are having a baby Girl, due Aug. 1st
  • Praise-I added a new camp for this summer
  • Pray for my trip to Atlanta Conference I am trying to make contacts for ministry.
  • Pray for our support to increase, we have $1300/ month, we need over $3000 by August when Rachel stops working.