Jesus Christ Soccer Star: Athletes Point Children toward God

05/28/13

Hundreds of people came from the nearby villages to the Children of the Nations (COTN) campus in Malawi. It was the first day of a soccer tournament hosted by a Venture Team from Summit Church in Orlando, Florida. Everyone was eager to show off their soccer moves, including COTN’s in-country staff. With a running sports commentary over a loudspeaker, the games began. 

 
The tournament drew hundreds of people to play and watch.
                  Soccer is wildly popular in Malawi. The tournament drew hundreds of people to play and watch.
 
The American visitors might not have been the stars of the tournament, but they provided plenty of entertainment.  “Every time they scored on us,” laughs Nathan Boyett, the team leader, “they stormed the field to celebrate.” 
 
But this tournament was about more than just soccer. The Venture Team was there to share the love of Jesus with the children and families.  During each game’s halftime, the American visitors took turns giving a short, gospel-centered message. “It was a great way to introduce or reintroduce Jesus,” says team member Robert Braun. 
 
Christina Cooper talks to the crowd about Jesus during a soccer game halftime.
                               Christina Cooper talks to the crowd about Jesus during a soccer game halftime.
 
Between matches, the Venture Team invited all the spectators to divide into five groups based on age and gender. The team then split into pairs and each pair shared their testimonies with a group of spectators. “It was the coolest sight to see,” says Nathan. “We were spread out on the soccer field with a small mob of people sitting around each pair.”  
 
“We’re really not so different even though we live in different places,” says team member Cassey Dandera.  As she and her partner shared their testimonies and personal struggles, the women in their group began to share about their own struggles with issues like poverty, alcoholism, stealing, and disrespectful kids at home.  One after another, the women asked Cassey and her friend to pray for them. 
 
The team and the COTN-Malawi staff were thrilled at how well the tournament went
                        The team and the COTN-Malawi staff were thrilled at how well the tournament went.
 
“What unites us is Jesus,” says Nathan.  For many of the team members, this was their first mission trip.  “We all had opportunities to step out of our comfort zone,” Nathan adds. “And we depended on God to give us that strength to do it.”  The team believes this was a life-changing trip, not only for them, but, they pray, for the families and children they served too. “Telling them about Jesus,” says Robert, “is the best thing we can give anyone whether it’s in Malawi or here.” 
 
Want to help children in Africa?  Join a Venture Team or sponsor a child today!