I want to share with you a story that happened to me in Russia in 2007, and how this mission had a lot to do with how the Mukuno District Cup came about.
We were in Kaluga, Russia with Global Aid Network, an organization started by Josh McDowell. The mission was to bring the Gospel using humanitarian gifts as the bridge to witness. We went mainly to orphanages and schools.
We had a team of about 20 people on this mission trip. Because of my experience in prison ministry or my ability to talk to young adults, I was usually given the teenagers at the orphanage. Those classrooms were generally a tough crowd. These kids had been through very harsh situations. They were like most teenagers, “why listen to some grown up tell them about Jesus?”
On one particular day, I had a really hard class. The boys just looked at me like I was a joke, and they had no interest in hearing the gospel or accepting Christ as their Savior. Their attitude upset me, and I decided to really get real with them. I told them what their future would look like if they made certain decisions. When I talked about sex, the girls looked down embarrassed, and the boys just glared at me like I was a fool.
I shared the gospel message and then invited them to pray with me the prayer of salvation. Some of the girls repeated the prayer, but the boys didn’t even close their eyes.
We then handed out the Care Packs. They were really more for smaller kids, but that is all we had.
But then I opened my bag and took out two soccer balls and a pump. You should have seen the boys’ faces. The entire atmosphere changed. Those boys could not believe I was going to give them soccer balls. Those soccer balls created a bridge between us, and now I was their friend. I will always wonder what happened to those kids, but I believe that through those gifts, I had a better chance that someday they would believe and accept Christ.
On our February mission in Uganda, we are really targeting high school kids. As I prayed to God about how to do this mission, God just gave me one word: soccer. He gave the same word to Margaret two days earlier. This God Plan has turned into a massive soccer tournament that will involve four counties and 450 schools. It looks almost like our state tournament and there will be a final champion of what we are calling the Mukuno District Cup.
It is very possible that 150,000 people will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Margaret says this is also a wonderful tool to bring the people together in a community event and build better relations.