On Easter Sunday I shared the victory of the what if? soccer team in the first what if? tournament held in the village of Marurui. While that victory is exciting, the story behind the victory is even more exciting. The work of the Partners for Care team in Kenya is to “save lives for the Kingdom” by spreading the message of salvation and HIV/AIDS prevention and doing whatever they can to reduce the deaths of children from preventable diseases. They do this work throughout the Nation of Kenya and someday they will take their message to other Nations in Africa. Last year, they told me that when they were not traveling to other villages throughout Kenya they felt called to work in their own village – their Jerusalem. In this village is a small slum – home to approx. 10,000 people. The HIV//AIDS rate is high, most children have only one parent, there is little work for the people, the youth are idle and overall there is a feeling of hopelessness. Over the year PFC staff have:
Began a program of hanging a bed net in every home
Opened a cyber with an IT school and a free music school
Began a 2nd chance program providing tutoring for those who want to complete their elementary and high school degrees
Organized 5 sports teams
This last weekend they held the first soccer tournament. Once I read if you set yourself on fire others will notice. You could say this tournament had this same effect with everyone noticing – the people of the village, the churches, the government officials.
The response to the two-day tournament was amazing! The entire village showed up to watch from morning til night – the bars closed, the churches left church services to watch, people lined the field to watch. And remember this is really a field – not even a true soccer field. It was as if the village took two-days off to watch.
The story of the what if? soccer team is truly the story of David and Goliath. The boys are just young guys and have only been a team since December. It was expected they would be eliminated the first game…but they won. Then they won again and excitement grew. They are known in the village as the “good boys” meaning they have made a pledge to follow the teachings of Jesus. Some of the other teams have boys who are using drugs, alcohol, etc. They are bigger in size and have been teams longer than the what if? Superstars.
The what if? team
The University of Nairobi had sent a team to play. The team was organized by university students who volunteer with Partners for Care. They played the what if? team for the championship. When the what if? boys scored the first goal the crowd cheered and when they scored the second goal and won the game the community shouted “our boys” have won. They went from “those boys” to “our boys”. It reminded me of when the South African rugby team became the team of all the people in South Africa when they won the World Cup. Sports have a powerful way of bringing a community together. The community leaders told Sammy and Sam nothing like this has ever happened in the village of Murarui. You can see the what if! team in church before the game on Sunday as the pastor prayed for them.
The team being prayed for in church
See the smiles on their faces as they raise John (IT teacher who helps coach them).
The team raising John after a victory
PFC staff are using this opportunity to further their reach into the churches in Murarui. They are now planning a community wide youth rally involving all the churches.
I would like to dedicate this victory to Kevin Cross and Rob Wendt who sent the funds to buy the uniforms and soccer shoes for the what if? team. They for helping these young boys 10,000 miles away!
Amazed at His grace, Connie Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry