As we approach our two year anniversary, we're starting to get the hang of this whole missionary thing and have several favorite ministries. A personal favorite has been our fútbol fan club.
Let me say more...
There are countless teens in our community who are lost and alone; kids that have experienced way too much and yet know so little. They need supervision, guidance, accurate information and support, but most of all they need the unconditional love of Jesus. For us to choose one over the other would be impossible and unfair. As such, we try really hard to let Jesus decide. Our job is simply to listen and respond.
Last year the Holy Spirit sent us Javier, a relatively typical kid with relatively typical problems of drug abuse, failing grades, family dysfunction and sporadic participation in the local occult activities. Although we probably wouldn't have picked him out of a crowd, Jesus did.
|Evangelization games at the Carmody house.|
Not knowing what exactly to do with the troubled teens, we followed the Spirit's lead and invited them to our home to hear the gospel.
We assume that the Holy Spirit has compensated for our inadequacies, because logic says these street kids should have no interest in hanging out with a bunch of missionaries.
They came and we preached, using games, friendly competitions and other fun activities.
|Jherson - Javier - Coppo - Ibon|
Little by little, the guys' hard outer shells softened and through anointed conversations we've learned bits and pieces of their stories. They've allowed us into their hearts and we've invited them into ours, making way for real friendships. We still share the gospel, but it's different now. We talk, as traveling companions, about the real challenges of life and how Jesus is always there for us. A friend once said that sharing the gospel is like one poor beggar telling another where he can get free food. As we come to know and love people like Javier we want nothing more than to share the Good News with them. From one beggar to another, we're simply telling them where to get the food that our souls need and crave.
|When the game is being played all eyes are on the field!|
So, what does all of this have to do with my favorite ministry
|Many spectators bring home-made flags|
to wave in support of their team. Unfortunately,
at this game all the flag poles were confiscated
by the police because of their potential use as
weapons if a brawl broke out.
Attending these play-off games and watching our team advance has helped Javier realize that his dream is attainable; which has given him a reason to stay in school.
San Hilarion has qualified for the Copa del Peru and is currently competing for the national title.
We've learned a lot these last several months about how seriously the people here take this sport.
|Barbed wire fencing keeps the spectators at bay.|
There is a gang squad about 40 strong at every match ready... for anything!!
Just last weekend the police had to apprehend an angry spectator who was chasing and threatening a referee.
|Gang squad protecting the refs.|
The gang squad completely surrounds the referees as they leave the field to ensure their safety.
They also protect the referees during half-time from individuals interested in bribing or threatening them.
|Anna and Michael with Andy, |
one of the local fútbol heroes.
Our participation in this community affair began with the desire to help one kid stay out of trouble.
When I originally felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart to take Javier to these games I had no idea that He would use these outings to build real friendships which would ultimately bring Javier and his buddies closer to Jesus.
The Spirit works in such complex ways. As such, it's no surprise that attending these soccer matches has contributed to the overall effectiveness of our mission as well. The people in San Hilarion love us and consider us a real part of their community. Fútbol is very important to them and they greatly appreciate our enthusiasm and support.
|Soon after the refs blew the whistle, announcing the end |
of the game, the players from San Hilarion
gathered in the center of the field and fell to their knees
to offer prayers of thanksgiving for all that He has given.
At one game someone leaned over and said, "See, even the fútbol players have started praying since you got here."
It's hard to quantify the effectiveness of our mission, but we just keep-on keeping-on, trusting Jesus in all things.
We no longer worry about "finding ministries". We have surrendered to the Spirit and trust that they will find us....which they do.
Our ministries are constantly changing along with people's needs and circumstances. For example, even though our fútbol fan club has been my favorite these last couple months it is coming to an end as San Hilarion's team begins competing in other regions of the country. Unable to travel to these distant towns, we'll huddle around the TV instead. Although I expected a little sadness when we could no longer attend the games, I am at peace knowing that this ministry served its purpose. I have complete confidence that the Holy Spirit will bring us another ministry that will become my new favorite!!!
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