PROJECT VOLLEYBALL: Hope and Morale in the camps

In a world that’s literally on fire all around you and going to hell in a hand basket, what on God’s green earth could be more unimportant or irrelevant than a game of volleyball?

Or is it?

Imagine living with a perilous and uncertain future in a refugee camp. All around you the national boundaries that you once called home are in the process of disintegration. Visualize, having to live month after month with no other distraction than the bleak flat landscape of the camps, row upon row of a seemingly endless monotony of white tents within the confines of the only home you now possess – a tent just like all the rest within the camp the only nation to which you belong. It’s here, in one of those white tents, you’ll pass summer, winter, spring and fall as the fighting all around you continues with no end in sight. This in itself could drive one mad, making one feel more like a desperate prisoner of war rather than an unfortunate refugee or IDP. Once you belonged, you had a country, a home, a culture, citizenship but now … you find yourself persona non grata. The people nobody wants.

Morale is vital to the well-being of individuals and groups. All of human history testifies to the importance of this often-intangible inner spiritual spark. Its absence is the difference between victory or defeat, success or failure. Its presence can lift a whole population to incredible heights of achievement. Its loss can plunge whole civilized cultures into the darkness of the abyss. The terrorist is acutely aware of this truth; in fact, it’s his stock and trade, the creation of chaos and despair. By it, they hope to create a vacuum and then fill it with themselves. They haven’t the resource or the power to conquer by might, they’re the quintessential illusionists creating a perception of helplessness, of hopelessness. They’re more akin to the devil than anything else on earth and they’re very religious in appearance. The only ones worse than they are are the politicos who sponsor them and the fools who think they can contain them.

MORALE: It’s such a small word but its understanding is crucial to the maintenance of individual and group survival.

Its the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand that gives a sense of common purpose with respect to a group: esprit de corps, the level of individual psychological well-being based on such factors as a sense of purpose and confidence in the future.

From time out of mind competitive sports have played a vital role in the maintenance of human morale in times of crisis. Not only do they provide a much needed diversion from life’s often harsh realities but they put winning and overcoming the odds into a small arena that can be demonstrated as a kind of microcosm of much larger possibilities. This is precisely the therapeutic effect that’s needed in the IDP and refugee camps right now. One needn’t look any further than the included photos to see the positive effects the new uniforms, equipment and the playing field are having on these young men. All this is a gift from of the followers of Christ. This is a time for new hope and identity in a sea of hardship and despair. The best thing about all of this is the fact that the hope is founded not on this world and its mitigating circumstances but the promises of God manifesting in something as small as a friendly but competitive game of volleyball.


I don’t know; maybe to appreciate such a small gift as this, perhaps you’d have to have lost everything before you truly get the significance here.


Published by Jack Harris |

Jack Harris is an Ordained Minister, PCI Missionary Evangelist and Humanitarian Aid Director. He is the founder and director of Jack Harris Ministries, an international outreach ministry.

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