The Global Youth Baseball Federation (GYBF) is an international evangelistic sports organization. Since 2001, the New York based organization has shared the Gospel and the love of God through high quality training in baseball, softball, volleyball, basketball and more to communities in countries around the world.
Similar to the secular organization Basketball Without Borders, which is bringing its bridge-building sports program to Israel this summer, GYBF shares the Good News with its participants in addition to excellent sports training. They do it in a way that reflects that the Gospel message is truly “Good News.”
GYBF was founded by Jeff Siegel, a messianic Jew. Siegel has a background in professional baseball as well as university degrees in physical education, organizational management, master of Divinity and doctor of ministry with an emphasis on global leadership.
“We receive invitations from pastors and other believing community leaders to come and run sports clinics for their young people,” Siegel told KNI. “We bring in a team of excellent, highly trained sports men and women to help train and coach them.”
“Our teams are made up of strong believers who also have a desire to share the Gospel and help make disciples,” Siegel added. “Wherever we go in the world we build relationships. Sports is a way in which you can earn the right to speak about God as questions naturally come up through training and playing together.”
Although Siegel affirms that the Gospel is to be shared without compromise, he is careful to stress that GYBF respects the laws and cultures of the countries they visit.
“We have to be contextual and considerate to every culture,” Siegel said.
Therefore, when a GYBF team comes to Israel, due respect is given to Israeli laws that prohibit proselytization to minors without parental or guardian’s consent.
“If we have been invited into a home and a young person’s parents give us permission to talk about the Gospel, we will be able to share it, but not otherwise,” Siegel confirmed.
In addition to sports, GYBF also offers medical, light construction and music programs and humanitarian assistance, including painting homes and building fences for the needy and elderly.
“We can present the Gospel message in all of those contexts, yet we try to be sensitive,” Siegel said. “In some countries we visit, like those in Latin America, we can get to the Gospel quicker as there are different levels of awareness and willingness to listen.”
Reflecting on the reservations some communities may have toward accepting or even listening to the Gospel, Siegel noted that “centuries ago people calling themselves Christians did not represent the love of Christ the way He commanded us to. Instead, there was manipulation, coercion and threat. How could that be Good News? The Gospel became more of a political message than Good News.”
“We want to tell people the real Good News is that God came to earth and paid for the sin of mankind because He loves us so much,” Siegel summarized. “We can have a born again experience when God Himself enters into our lives when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and receive his forgiveness for our sins. We can have a life of peace and joy and enter into vocations that bring glory to God.”