Cesar grew up playing many sports but dedicated himself primarily to the game of volleyball. As a young person, volleyball became a “god” in his life. However, during his first year of college, a coach told him that God had a wonderful plan for his life. In 1997, Jesus completely changed Cesar. Cesar went on to complete his degree in physical education and sports. At the time, he didn't realize that his college degree was part of God’s plan to prepare him for sport ministry. In 2002, Cesar realized that sports was an amazing tool he could use to glorify the Lord. Then in 2004, God also gave him a beautiful wife, Irela, who became a essential partner in ministry. In 2007, they were both invited to attend the International Sports Leadership School in South Africa. Together, Cesar and Irela have been serving the Lord in full-time sports ministry now for many years -- first in their home country of Costa Rica for six years, and now in Panama. In 2015, they felt God calling them to Panama to develop leaders and build effective sport ministry there as well as throughout Latin America. He and Irela have two passions: to share God's love with young people through sport and to train and equip the next generation of leaders in Latin America.
Cesar and Irela Rodriguez
SQ Panama Coordinators
Ever since stepping out in faith and moving to Panama, God has continued to open doors for Cesar and Irela. In 2015, the Instituto Bern – a large bilingual private school – invited them to start sport clubs in the school that would challenge students athletically while discipling them spiritually. They now have around 60 kids in the program, and volunteers from various local churches assist Cesar and Irela. Cesar has also been given responsibility to help train other coaches in the school and help them grow spiritually. The principal was so excited about everything they were doing that she convinced two other public schools to invite Cesar and Irela to start sport discipleship clubs as well. This special couple make a great team and complement each other’s gifts well. Irela loves to write Bible study curriculum, leads vacation Bible schools, is great at presentations, and has administrative skills while Cesar has a much experience and expertise in a variety of sports, is a strong leader, is a strategic thinker and visionary, and great at coaching and developing people. Cesar is currently developing a local Ready Set Go team to utilize sports ministry in other contexts, he is a trainer/facilitator in the Latin America Sports Leadership School, and he leads a weekly Discipleship Huddle for other leaders in Latin America.
Cesar and Irela and their family are settled into their new assignment in Panama, and God is truly blessing their ministry. One of the goals they have for the future is to integrate sport ministry into the local church by sharing the vision and training young leaders in sport ministry. Using the ReadySetGo model, they are seeking to mobilize the local church to reach every city and every community in Latin America through the language of sport. Cesar’s influence has expanded as leaders from other parts of Latin America are seeking his counsel and wisdom in how to establish sport ministry projects in their areas. The principal of the Instituto Bern has even shared with Cesar his dream for a “sport church” that would offer fellowship through a common love for sport while providing biblical discipleship and spiritual growth.