I’m not always sure we’re having the impact we really wish we could. At least it’s not easy to see. As missionaries, we do our best to teach God’s word, try and make the place we live a little better and hope the children and their families gain a little; then we let God do the rest.
This past weekend, our soccer teams competed in an Independence Day tournament. The first challenge we faced, is one we unfortunately have seen too many times. Since birth records are nearly non-existent in Uganda it’s hard to say what age some kids really are. Some soccer coaches take that as an opportunity to take advantage of a situation. We have often seen kids who are 15 or 16 playing in an under 12 age group.
Coaches understand their players aren’t really under 12, but they are smaller in stature from other kids their age, so they will try to sneak them into the game.
We don’t want to teach our children those types of practices and we want them to understand that it is not OK. So we decided to remove our team from the tournament. We used it as a teaching moment. Though the kids wanted to still play; they knew they could still beat the other, older team; we took a stand against unethical behavior.
Soon we found out, we were actually the only other team in the tournament. So much for that tournament.
A couple hours later another team showed up. They came by foot, walking 10 miles to get to the tournament. They’re players fit the age group properly, since our team was still around we decided we would play them. The tournament was back on, with two teams. The organizers at this point gave the “older” team an ultimatum, use the correct aged players, or leave. They refused at first, then finally gave in.
The funny thing is this was the team representing the organizers.
The second day of the tournament our team has now won the championship, but something greater was seen immediately following the championship game.
Before we could gather all the kids and tell them how proud them we were, they gathered together themselves; to pray. Nobody told them to, they just got together themselves. A bunch of 13 and 14 year old boys and a girl, to tell God thank you and give him the glory.
My heart smiled, my eyes watered up. I was and am so thankful, for at least a moment that I was able to see what God is doing in these kids. Though we have an uphill battle in this world, God is still the leader of our team. Faith in Him is greater than any victory on the soccer field.