In central Lima, there is a community built up along the sides of a hill known as Cerro el Pino, the Hill of Pines. Home to around 20,000 people, El Pino is a densely populated area originally developed in the 1980s and 90s by people who fled from terror inflicted on the countryside by rebel groups. Most residents are those who have moved into the city in hope of better employment opportunities.
There is a church in the community that loves its neighbors with the very heart of Jesus. Three particular women are bold to walk as He did, to seek out the individuals living hopelessly in the daily grind of this world, and call them out of darkness and into His glorious light (1 Peter 2:9).
Norma has a deep love for souls, is full of faith, and eager to give her energy for children who need to know the love of God.
Gladys is an ER nurse. She is keen, hard-working, and dedicated to the well-being of others in need.
Raquel lives in Cerro el Pino, and is street-smart. She has contacts and connections, knows the neighborhood, and is strategic in her service.
When Pastor Ernesto and these women heard about the ministry training Sports Friends offers, they were eager to apply it in their outreach. The women completed Sports Friends’ Basic Training to become coaches in 2018.
After running a VBS for kids in El Pino in January 2019, Norma, Gladys and Raquel advocated for more time and opportunity to love them. With the church’s support to begin a Sports Friends team, they told the young people about the exciting new activity. On the first Saturday, Norma met up with her VBS kids, then sent them back into the community to find their friends. The parents freely gave permission, happy the kids would be out of the house and playing in a safe environment.
Their first big challenge was finding a place to play. The community is built up the sides of a small mountain, with no open (or flat) space for a soccer field. Norma told them confidently “God can provide a soccer field for us.” She encouraged the kids to pray.
Within three weeks, Raquel heard from the local authorities: they’d been granted play time on the field built next to the market, at the bottom of the hill! It was a simple concrete slab with soccer nets, but this is where people from the hill play.
Soon emerged the second big challenge: competition. The men of the community were accustomed to making the field their own on Saturday afternoons. The women and children couldn’t very well stand up to their pressure. Again they prayed. They asked God for favor with the local authorities, and relief from the bullying of the men. Again, God moved in response to His children’s requests. Now they regularly meet in peace with their coaches who love them and advocate for them.
There is no question that the trajectory of our lives changes when an unexpected love pursues us.
Father, we ask for your continued and expanded protection, provision, joy, and grace for Norma, Gladys and Raquel, and the young people. Bless them each with increasing revelation of Your heart. Keep them in the shadow of Your wing, and grow the them in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man. In Jesus’ Name.
Would you consider making a year-end gift to train more new coaches like Norma, Gladys, and Raquel who can pour their lives into the young people in their communities? Just $75 would train one new coach as an agent of God’s love and hope, or $3,750 would sponsor a training for 50 new coaches. We have thousands of new coaches waiting to be trained. Will you help us equip and send them? www.sports-friends.org/give
Thank you for your partnership in bringing the good news of Jesus to young people all around the world!