God’s Ways Through Soccer

football-157931_960_720The following Guest Post by Dwight Short was originally published by him on August 15, 2016

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GOD’S WAYS ARE NOT ALWAYS OUR WAYS or HOW IS THAT SOCCER WORKING?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says the Lord. Isaiah 55:8 (RSV)

In order to fly into the interior communities of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in July, 2012, we were told to get down to one modest suitcase and a carry-on. I had three bags with me so this meant that my oversized bag of soccer balls, volley balls, nets, and athletic equipment would have to be shipped separately.

We were also told that no soccer or sports events would be held as it would interfere with the rest of the conferences activities. Therefore it was not possible. So I decided to leave my bulky sports shoes behind in favor of one pair of dress shoes which I wore on the plane and one pair of flip flops which I wore in every other event when dress shoes were not required.

I was assured that my sports equipment would be shipped ahead. It would arrive at the same time as I would get there. In fact, that bag did not arrive until six weeks later. Long after I had returned to the USA.

Once we landed at the Tshikapa Airport, our heavier luggage was carted to the conference grounds commemorating 100 years of Christian outreach in Congo. We walked with our carry-ons a mile or so from the airport to our accommodations.

Our first stop was the church and meeting house where we were introduced to dignitaries from churches around the DRC . A young man approached me and introduced himself as Robert Irundu, the national Youth for Christ Director for Congo.

Through an interpreter Robert asked for details about the soccer clinics he had heard about. I told him we were informed they had been eliminated from the events of the week. Robert said that was not true. Indeed  we would want to have a clinic. He and his fellow youth directors were eager to spread the Gospel through soccer or in his words, “Futbol.”

In my humanness, I didn’t know how we could do a soccer clinic when we had no soccer balls or any other athletic equipment as it was tied up in the Congolese transportation system. Word soon spread that we needed help. A family of former MK’s and their spouses were both experienced players. They had brought a few soccer balls with them. We all came together to organize a soccer clinic with a Gospel Message. Somehow more than 400 kids came from all over to participate in this first event.

That experience inspired Robert and many members of the churches in Congo to duplicate this event in other communities. Recently on a trip to Ndjoko Punda, more than 4,000 young people gave their lives to Christ. What a solid reminder that we should remember that God’s Ways are always better than our ways.

We anticipate that we will be able to do many more soccer events with the message of the Gospel being shared as well as one-touch passes and penalty goals. Many would say that my involvement with soccer might be the greater miracle, but I give all credit above.

Click the link below to see how Robert and his team are using soccer for the Glory of God!  https://vimeo.com/175415244

Feel free to share this link and article in your church or small groups.

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Thank you, Dwight. We’ve all experienced those times when God has to remind us our thoughts and ways are not the same as His. His are so much higher than ours. Here are a few faces to represent the many precious young people we hope the futbol ministry reaches. h4c-youth

Sports Camp Evangelism

Co (1)Bible Camp 2014 TshikapaToday’s guest post is by Dwight Short.

“When I offered to be part of the contingent celebrating 100 years of ministry in Congo, my goal was to interview as many people as possible who had known my aunt, Lodema Short. I also offered to Rod Janzen, Exec. Dir. AIMM, my past experience with sports ministry through FCA and thought we might organize something for young people. We were told yes to this initiative at first and later on we were told it would not be possible. I accepted that answer while in Kinshasa trying to make weight with all my luggage and left all of my personal sport equipment behind, and shipped the bags of sports equipment via another air freight service. When we arrived in Tshikapa, I barely sat down when a young man named Robert Irundu introduced himself to me and told me he was excited about doing a soccer clinic! So, right away I am sure God is working things out that we were not able to as mere humans.

“I believe sports is the greatest tool for youth evangelism that is available to us. Because of this soccer clinic that we did on the spur of the moment in 2012, Robert has diligently planned and organized sports and Bible camps in several areas of the DRC. He wants to do many more and has built a great rapport with other pastors to make certain when kids give their lives to Christ, they will have a place to go and grow in the Lord. We had 400 kids show up for the camp in Tshikapa, and the potential to touch thousands of kids is only being limited by the resources we can provide to train and send more coaches and pastors out to share the Gospel thru sports.”

You can read more of this story via the website: http://www.mennonitemission.net/Stories/News/Pages/BiblesoccercamptrainsyouthinCongo.aspx

To support Sports Camp Evangelism Make your checks payable to: AIMM or Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission. Designate your donation to: Hope 4 Congo and indicate that you want your donation to be given to the Sports Camp Evangelism project. Click on this link, AIMM for further information and AIMM’s address. Thank you in advance for your support of this tremendous project.

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