Viktor plays on a Sports Friends soccer team in Kenya. He is 8 years old but doesn’t look much older than his six-year-old teammate Julius. Although we’re uncertain of all the details about Viktor’s life, his small stature suggests chronic neglect even before his abandonment. Young and single when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant, his mother was unable to create healthy living conditions for a child. After 8 years she was finally overwhelmed by the task of raising her son, and she abandoned small Viktor without arranging any care for him.
Anne is a faithful follower of Jesus, though of humble background. She lives with her children on the church compound, where they care for the cows and chickens, cook for church meetings, and make sure the building is ready for Sunday services. Anne is raising her children alone. They, like so many young Kenyans, are fatherless. So she bears the weight of providing for the family by herself; she loves, trains, and disciplines her children without a husband.
Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling… God sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:5 & 8). The grace of God, our Father and Defender, is astounding. He loves Anne, and has blessed and provided for her. He has filled her with a love that reaches beyond herself, even in the midst of her own painful challenges. Her life is marked not by bitterness or despair, but by love, empathy, and compassion. God loves Viktor, and drew His sweet Anne’s attention to the boy. She has embraced him into her family. The six-year-old Julius is Anne’s biological son, and the friends have become as brothers. They play together on the under-8 soccer team, and when they’re not on the field, they are building cars, rolling tires, or creating some other fun for themselves.
Our tender, mighty, compassionate God works still more redemption into the story. On the soccer field, the boys even get to feel their Father’s heart for them. Their Sports Friends coach, Joseph, makes them as his own sons. He pours love and encouragement, character training and hope into their lives. He visits his boys outside of practices and gets to know them. He spends time with them one-on-one, to communicate clearly to them that they are loved, cared for, wanted.
This knitting together of lives has changed Viktor, Anne, and Joseph. Viktor is like a new boy. When he first came to live with Anne he never smiled; instead, he’d run into the forest, crying, screaming and asking for his mother. While we still pray that Viktor’s mother will return and care for him, we praise God for how He has provided for the child already. Within a month of his time with Anne and Joseph we saw him smiling, running with friends, and playing. Anne’s family has been grown by grace, and she has the joy of seeing God extend love through her. Joseph serves as a Sports Friends country director, but has truly been touched by his time with Viktor, as he sees such a dramatic transformation in his life through the love of Christ. All three have been blessed; all three have been made into a blessing.
Father, we praise You for Your kindness and compassion. We praise You that You don’t leave us in our desperate state, but You reach out to us to make us Your own. Thank You for caring for Viktor, Anne, and Joseph. Raise up more of Your people to serve Kenya’s children and families in need, to live and minister in Your name.