South Kendall Community Christian Reformed Church is known around Miami, Fla., as “the basketball church.”
The church holds a basketball Open Court one Saturday each month as well as an annual tournament for anyone ages 8 to 18.
It started 16 years ago when Linda Jones walked out of the church building and saw a group of neighborhood boys shooting hoops in the church parking lot. “I know nothing about basketball,” she said, “but I thought we should come up with some way to reach them.” Jones prayed, spoke to the pastor, and got in touch with a couple at church who had experience coaching basketball. In December 1999, 35 kids signed up for South Kendall’s first basketball tournament.
These days almost 90 kids from the community participate in the annual event. The tournament and Open Court events are free and include pizza and snacks with devotional time after the game.
Many will stick around after Open Court has ended. Some have even brought their families to the church as a result. “It’s a great way to interact with the kids in our neighborhood on an ongoing basis and provide them with a safe and healthy environment,” said Jones, who is known around town as “the basketball lady.”
Once, a boy who had been playing in the tournament since he was 8 years old told Jones that he wasn’t planning on playing. Jones told him he had to play because he was 18 and this would be his last year to compete. He was convinced, and that year his team came in first place. “See,” Jones told him, “I told you I’d pray for you!”
“Basketball is a bridge,” Jones explains. “This is what our church does. We love being here for our community.”