Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sharing Jesus with a soccer ball


I felt the pop beneath my feet more than I actually heard it. And by the sound and the reaction of the driver, I knew it was not good.

Kofi (the driver) eased the bus to a stop, got out, and took a look. The bus had blown a compressor -- needed to operate the brakes.

So there we were, stranded on a muddy, pot-holed road, right beside the Tema dump.

Why were we there? Read on….


It rained a lot in the night, and the skies this morning were overcast. An intermittent mist of rain kept the air and everything else quite damp. Our team slept in; our original plans to travel to Keta had to be changed. So after breakfast we developed “Plan B” -- we wanted to return to the dump.

Christine & Auntie Aggie packed a light lunch of pb&j sandwiches, bananas, and bottled water. We boarded the bus, and headed off across town. Many of our teammates play soccer -- a couple of them played in college -- and yesterday they had purchased some brand new soccer balls. It was time to try them out!

We arrived at the dump. Kids remembered our visit earlier this week, and began to cluster around. A few adults joined them. We all walked to the big field where the kids play their games. It didn’t take long before there were plenty of folks to make up two teams. GAME ON!!!

Soon the air was filled with the sounds of cheers, clapping, laughter, and pounding feet as the Americans vs. Ghana Mission Match was played! One particularly impressive player was a fellow playing goalie. He was deeply into the game, and worked hard to block the opposing team’s attempts to score. Julia & John asked if he went to school. He answered yes, that he attended Jerusalem Gates -- he is one of Waters Edge Ministries sponsored kids.

Final score: Ghana 2, USA 1. It was a great game!

Dottie drew a hopscotch game in the wet dirt and soon several kids were playing hopscotch, using a flattened plastic bottle as a marker. David & I talked with some of the residents of the dump (more on their stories will come at a later time).

David & John trekked over to take a look at the main dump area. People scrambled for the trash as it poured from the backs of the dump trucks. They grappled for items they might use or recycle as the garbage poured over their heads. Acrid smoke hung in the air. Goats and pigs rooted in the piles of refuse alongside the humans. Birds circled overhead.

Soon, it was time for us to go. The team shared lollipops with the children, then we boarded the bus to leave. As the bus doors closed, many of the kids who’d played soccer gathered around. They were asking us a question in Twi , so we asked Richie to translate for us. They wanted to know if we wanted the soccer balls back. When we told them it was theirs to keep, they cheered and waved.

Our bus lurched out of the dump village area, and turned back toward town. We hadn’t gone very far when the compressor blew. We were right beside the edge of one of the dump mountains. Kofi (our driver) put on a long jacket to protect his clothing, rolled out a mat underneath the bus, grabbed some tools and went to work. Richie flagged down a small van, and half of our crew got on it and rode to the church, where they ate some of the picnic lunch the ladies packed for us.
A youth meeting was in progress, and Christi and Dottie gave a program there on evangelism.

Meanwhile, back on the bus, the rest of us waited, hoping for another van to come get us. Kofi continued to work on the bus. We couldn’t open the windows because of the flies; it was really kind of hot and sticky. Each time the doors opened, flies swarmed inside the bus. Soon the guys began a fly-killing contest.

FWAP! “That’s 32 for me!” FWAP!! “No way! I’ve got 35” FWAP!! “Three in one! That gives me 41!” And so it went. For the record, John Cromer is champion fly killer, with a whopping 50 flies! Bobby Brown and Joe Chen were runners-up!

After a while, Emmanuel (another friend from the church) arrived with two taxis to pick us up. We got off the bus and into the cabs -- then Kofi let us know he’d repaired the bus! THANK GOD!! Off to the church we headed -- we wanted some pb&j sandwiches too!

Once Christi & Dottie finished their program, the group hit the streets to share about Jesus. Four people accepted Christ today in Community 4, Tema, and we are thankful for their lives and looking forward to seeing them at church tomorrow.

David, Richie, & I attempted to find a battery to purchase -- we need it for the new water purification system we are installing next week. However, many of the stalls and shops were closed and we could not get the kind we needed. We’ll just have to pick it up Monday before we head to the Volta region.

At the end of the day, we had Dinner for dinner. Yep -- goat and fufu, on the table when we walked in. Most of the folks tried the fufu. The ladies also served rice, salad, and fresh fruit.


As I think back over the day, I see many things that transcend the barriers of race, language, age, nationality, color, and creed:
  • A smile
  • A handshake
  • A rousing game of “futbol” (soccer)
  • The playful laughter of children playing
  • An appreciation for a job well done
  • Genuine interest in someone just because you want to know them
  • A sharing of beliefs and our personal “God stories”
  • A prayer in any language
  • A prayer request in any language

Each one of us has the potential to make a difference in the Kingdom of God. Each one of us has different talents and gifts; different ways of expressing our feelings and beliefs; different purposes ordained by God. We who are followers of Christ may have different ways, different tactics to accomplish these purposes, and sometimes we might even disagree about some things. But ultimately, we are all concerned and charged with sharing the Gospel with others. Sometimes we share with others who are also believers, in order to encourage them. And others, we share with non-believers so that they also might feel the joy and passion that a surrendered heart can bring.

In Jesus’ name, we press on….

A Link to the photos for today.

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