Seven years ago, April Figueroa, the wife of Frank L. Figueroa Jr., pastor of Waipio Grace Brethren Church in Mililani, Hawaii, was diagnosed with cancer. To cope with the stress of the illness, Frank and April decided to go to the gun range with some friends to get rid of some anxiety.
“That really helped her focus and release some of the stress,” Frank notes. “We started taking up some of the shooting sports – a year later we started archery because we could do that on our own property.”
And as the cancer was terminated, a passion was born – for archery. The couple kept up the sport even after April went into remission, doing target practice on their small property in Waipio, Hawaii.
Soon enough the couple had another idea.
“Our community is poor. Our church is flanked by two apartment buildings primarily consisting of people who have immigrated here,” explains Figueroa. “In places like this, they are barely scraping by and they can’t participate in a lot of sports — they require all these fees and equipment for soccer, baseball, etc.
The kids around us would watch my wife and I shoot, but there was no equipment for them to participate in a safe way. Then when one teenager got up the courage to ask if he could give shooting a try, we thought it would be awesome to get an archery ministry going to have something for kids to do for free.”
Along with more than 30 other leaders from Waipio Grace Brethren Church, they took a step of faith. Centershot Ministries already existed as a nationally-run ministry of Mathews Bows Inc., existing to help children be evangelized through the ministry of archery. Frank reached out to them and Centershot Hawaii was soon born.
The ministry is designed to “make Christ the target of our lives through archery and Bible study.” Each session includes an hour of archery practice, using the universally acknowledged, “11 Steps to a Successful Archer,” and includes a Bible study in between, each with a biblically applied archery theme. The ministry also provides kids with all the equipment needed, shirts, caps, and prizes – all completely free.
This past spring, Waipio ran its first session with 24 children.
“We had a waiting list about 10 deep,” said Figueroa. Launching the ministry was expensive, but many companies and individual donated funds. They were able to launch the ministry without the church having to cough up a dime.
The second session of Centershot Hawaii starts up in August, this time with twice as many students scheduled to participate. Figueroa has high hopes for the future of the ministry.
“These kids are looking for something that isn’t just hype,” he says. “It’s neat because I see all the kids wearing their Centershot Hawaii shirts to school – it is something they are proud of. My vision is to make disciples of Jesus and maybe even have some of the kids make it to the national tournament. For Centershot Hawaii, this is only the beginning.”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.