Matt's face was striking when he came into the house at almost 7pm. He was talking on the phone, his eyes open in perpetual shock.
His voice was unusual, raspy and deep. "Man I was seeing stars coming over here!". "You guys won?" I asked, amused. "We lost. We were tied by the end of the game. We had the option of going to extra time or penalties, for some reason they decided to play extra time!"
It was 94° outside, and they played soccer for two hours.
He immediately went to the fridge to get some orange juice to recover from his sugar low.
He tried watching t.v for a while, and his face of comical affliction reminded me of my Sims characters when I willfully neglect their basic needs.
The park was literally a hellhole. The field was uneven and the sparse grass spots struggled to cover it. The thing could have easily been confused with an immense abandoned lot. The only seats available was a miserable couch someone had abandoned there, which the guys covered with blankets to make it usable.
And then there were the young guys playing. They were full of energy. Most of them came from Central America. All of them seemed amiable. Some of them were gangbangers.
I connected with some of them, playing with them for a while before the game began. At the same time I had this deep sense that a huge ministry opportunity was being opened for us.
Many hours later, when both Matt and I were at the house, I realized that I wasn't the only one with that sense.
"Daniel, I had this 'Holy Spirit moment'", he told me. I got closer to him, intrigued. "Yes, when I was playing with those kids it just hit me, there could be a ministry opportunity there". "I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt it" I responded with my usual smile.
The gangbangers who were playing were from a different gang than the "chili peppers". Maybe God is trying to connect us with these two prominent gangs.
Many of them want to learn English but are unable to go to night classes because of their schedule. They told him that if only they could find somewhere they could go to learn English that would fit their schedule, many of them would gladly go. Matt had the idea that maybe we can offer them English classes in the context of a Bible study. We'll see.
Who knew that playing soccer was a legit way to do ministry?
Photo Credit: ElvertBarnes.