SoccerKids-webHave you ever had what I (Matt Brokl) call an “Ah-Ha” experience, when a light bulb goes on and you see things from a new perspective?

My wife and I traveled to Tanzania in 2013 as Ambassadors with a wonderful group of folks.  As we planned our trip I was excited about going on a safari and spending a day at a beach.  I’ll admit I was also nervous about the time we would spend in our companion village.  I don’t speak Swahili and I knew the living conditions would be harsh.  In reality, the time we spent in Nyanzwa, Easter’s companion village, was the best part of the trip.

Before we went to Tanzania, I had heard the kids there really wanted soccer balls.  So we brought about a dozen balls and some pumps.  They had a need and we could certainly meet that small need.  I thought that, at a minimum, we could just throw soccer balls out the window of the bus to random people.  Instead, we took some to a school and gave them to teachers.  We also gave some to the pastor at our partner church.  We delivered them, walked away, and we felt pretty good about it.

During the trip, we went to a preaching point outside of our partner congregation.  We drew a large crowd of adults and children who were checking out these foreign people who had arrived.  After touring some of the village, I remembered that we had soccer balls in the bus and I went and got one.  Little did I know that this was about to be an “Ah-Ha” moment.

When I came out of the bus a boy took the ball and started kicking it and all of the kids led us over to their school.  Behind the school was large open area that was flat.  It isn’t like a field we are used to in America.  No white markings on the ground.  No nets to catch the ball.  It’s just a simple area of flat dirt.  The kids took us onto the field where we divided up into teams.  We had some Ambassadors, kids, and adults on each team.  And we played soccer.  I could have played all afternoon.  And that’s when I had my “Ah-Ha” moment.  I saw that the kids didn’t just need soccer balls.  What they really wanted was for us to play soccer with them, to be their teammates.

If we randomly gave out the soccer balls, the kids might remember that a bus drove by and a ball magically appeared.  Or they might recall a time where their teacher brought out a ball that may have been donated by some foreigners. Instead, I hope they remember us as a group of people who came and played their game, with them, on God’s field.  As we became teammates, Jesus showed up in a big way.  Let’s partner with and support our brothers and sisters in Christ in Tanzania.  And with the kids, let’s play soccer.