The coronavirus pandemic has changed the face of ministry around the world, along with many other facets of life. In the low-income Kariobangi community of Nairobi, Sports Friends coaches have been engaged in food distribution projects while their ability to gather and practice as teams has been limited. As these coaches carry material supplies to those who have immediate and significant physical needs, they seek where God is at work in eternal ways as well. One of our coaches shares this story of God softening hearts and restoring relationships with one young man’s family as they received not only food, but the strength and encouragement of God’s love.
Gashu is 12 years old, and his happy smile brightens everyone’s day. His family do not follow Christ, but adhere to religious beliefs that are quite opposed to Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God. Because of this, Gashu had to sneak out in secret to the soccer field for practice with his Sports Friends team. He knew his parents would never allow him to play with Christians. He loved the Bible stories and character lessons his coach regularly shared at the end of practice, and he paid attention to them.
After some time, his parents began to notice changes in his behavior that made them wonder where he was spending his time and who was influencing him. One day his mother followed him when he left for soccer practice, and she saw him meet the Sports Friends team at the field. That evening she asked him where he had spent the afternoon, and he had to confess that he had been playing with this soccer team. She knew the team and the coaches were from the local church. Gashu’s mother was uncomfortable with her son spending time with these Christians, so she denied him permission to continue on the team.
The team missed the boy’s presence. Then the coronavirus lockdown began, and it became increasingly difficult for families like Gashu’s to access basic needs. Sports Friends coaches went to visit them during the food distribution project, and were able to meet with his family. They introduced themselves and explained that they do teach the boys on the team to apply God’s word to their home lives as well. They teach them to respect their elders, and to conduct themselves with integrity and kindness in the community. The coaches also encouraged Gashu’s parents by telling them how talented their son was in soccer.
Once she had met the Sports Friends coaches and learned they were interested in her son’s wellbeing and growth as a young man of character, Gashu’s mother permitted him to continue on with the team. Gashu is so excited to join his team again, and the coaches are thrilled to have him back!
Please pray with us that God will continue to transform this young man’s life and lead him and his whole family to understand that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Pray with us that many will come to the Father through his testimony, and that the light of God’s Word will continue to illuminate Kariobangi households during these times of distress.