Soccer, of Course!

By an Alliance worker, serving in Senegal

West African youth are passionate about soccer; Alliance people are just as passionate about why the “world’s sport” is a platform for outreach. “If you can imagine the following generated by U.S. professional football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf and NASCAR, with hunting thrown in for good measure, it would be summed up in one sport—soccer!” exclaims a marketplace ministries worker in West Africa.

A young man in my church, Samba, senses God’s call on his life to reach the lost with the good news of Christ. I want to encourage and challenge him to go for it!

So when Samba showed interest in starting a kid’s club for elementary-aged boys and girls in our neighborhood, I was right there alongside him, playing games, singing songs, having fun. But after a few months without much growth (only the kids from our church were coming), we re-evaluated. It became clear to Samba that we needed to do something different.

Soccer, of course! Kids love soccer here!

Success

From the first week we started the soccer outreach, we have never had a shortage of kids eager to participate. We run a skills clinic, scrimmage, and then discuss the skill we practiced—and hopefully used!—in the match and how it correlates to a life skill. (For instance, one week we focused on juggling—keeping the ball in the air, using only a prescribed part of the body, such as our head, foot, or thigh, etc.). We then talk about how this skill is important to control the ball during a match.

Recently, I asked the group “What is the muscle in our bodies that is the most difficult to control?” We had all sorts of funny answers. For the record: your brain is not a muscle!

But one boy got it. “The tongue,” he said.

Biblical Truth, Senegalese Wisdom

This is significant for Senegalese people, who recognize that there is real power in the words people speak. The tongue has the power to bless and to curse, build up or tear down.

Words are not just meaningless tools—they carry power, and we know it’s not easy to control that kind of power. Through this example, I was able to describe how, as a follower of Jesus, He has given me His Spirit, who lives in me, to help me control my tongue and use it for good.

By using basic soccer skills, we’re able to keep pointing to the love, truth, and power of Jesus so that one day they will choose to follow Him as well. By the grace of God, we are already seeing hopeful signs that these seeds will grow.

One of the boys, Bouba*, has shown much interest. He has come to several church events, hangs out with the pastor’s sons, and has even opened the door for the pastor’s wife to begin a relationship with his mother.

What You Can Do

Read more about the power of soccer ministry in the January 15 alife.

Give to the Great Commission Fund—partner with Alliance workers, like those in Senegal, who are spreading the good news effectively through creative outreaches that include soccer ministries.

Pray for Alliance workers worldwide who need wisdom for how to effectively reach people in their spheres of influence with the good news.

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