Soccer - Canada

  • What Is Poverty?

    Section: Soccer

    “If we were left to ourselves with the task of taking the gospel to the world, we would immediately begin planning innovative strategies and plotting elaborate schemes.  We would organize conventions, develop programs, and create foundations…but Jesus is so different from us.  With the task of taking the gospel to the world, He wandered through the streets and byways. All He wanted was a few men who would think as He did, love as He did, see as He did, teach as He did and serve as He did.”

    - David Platt, Radical: Taking Back your Faith from the American Dream

    This evening, in Vancouver, we served dinner at Union Gospel Mission.  It is amazing how a simple “hello” can change a person’s demeanor.  Union Gospel Mission helps people quit addictions, provides housing on a case by case basis, provides worship and spiritual guidance, provides hundreds of meals every single day and much more.  It was an honor to get to serve God and serve the people of Vancouver.  After serving dinner, we were walking down the streets on our way back to our hostel and one of our tour leaders, Traut, remembered that she still had her Union Gospel Mission (UGM) “Volunteer” sticker on; just as she thought about taking it off she felt the Holy Spirit tell her not to take it off just yet. Less than a minute later, a man named John approached us after seeing Traut’s sticker.  He was crying; he told us he wanted to be free from his life of alcoholism so he could be able to be a part of his family’s lives again.  We walked with him back to UGM where they arranged a meeting to meet with him tonight.  Before we parted ways John allowed us all to pray for him.  He said, “I love God but I can’t pray. It is not my thing, but you guys can pray for me.”   He wasn’t asking us for food or money.  John wanted to be free.  He wanted to be with his family.

    “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless.  The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.  We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” - Mother Teresa

    We also gained another roommate!  Elle arrived in our hostel last night!  She is from England and has been wonderful to get to know.  She asked us if we knew of any place good to go for dinner and so we invited her to have dinner and serve meals at UGM with us.  She said yes, even though she had never done anything like that before! She and I were elbow deep in raw chicken together at one point! I bet she’ll never ask us for another dinner idea again!  We will be sad to leave her tomorrow but we know God had a reason for her joining us tonight even if we don’t see the direct results ourselves.

    I am so thankful to have been a part of this Vancouver team.  To be able to walk down these streets and just have a tiny taste of what Jesus saw and realize how far I am from loving others as Jesus did is such a blessing.  I have learned so much from the Athletes in Action staff.  We all think we would be kind and loving to the homeless, the hungry, the drug addicts, etc. but when you walk down a street surrounded by these people you will be surprised the thoughts and emotions that swirl around in your mind that the world says is normal and justified.  HOWEVER: Their sin patterns are no different, no worse and no less destructive than our sin patterns; All of our sin patterns just look different in the world’s eyes.  Though we come with good news, we are no better than them.  The grace and love God wants us to share with them was paid by the very same blood that covers our sins of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  I was reminded of these truths after reflecting on another conversation on the street we had with a woman named Michelle.  She told us some of her story as we told her some of ours.  She initiated the conversation, had a surprisingly witty character and was just a joy to talk to.  I, personally, thought she could do stand up comedy! God created us each uniquely beautiful.  How awesome is He! 

    God’s infant,

    Maero

    Vancouver Team

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  • #TeamVan

    Section: Soccer

    Canadian Soccer Project

    I want you to imagine yourself walking with six friends, just hanging out and doing some window shopping downtown. The air is fresh; birds are in the air, laughter catches on and flows through the group. You get further into the city and the cars are rushing by. Suddenly, you feel a slow rush of a wave overcome you; a sensation that halts your mind. Everything that was on your mind a minute before vanishes. Everything is still visible, but what you see slows down each way your head turns. On the right, there's a man setting up golf balls on the sidewalk, all in a row, as if he was a four year old child playing with blocks. You keep going and immediately after the man, you see a woman vigorously preparing tea cups, spoons, and other odds and ends. Before you can blink, you notice a guy picking up a metal baseball bat about to back swing you in the face. You dodge the bat and are breathing fast. All you can think of is when will this end? People left and right - just like yourself. Human beings breathing the same air, living on the same earth. Bells are ringing, small arguments break out, music is playing, some are singing, some sleep. Everyone on the ground, on the same street. Every square foot is taken up by something. Whether it’s a person, mat, cardboard, there is not one bare spot on the ground. You wonder if you are breathing and if you are going to make it through. Where is the end? Finally, in front of you, a woman with paralyzed legs folded upon herself in a beat up wheel chair. She gives a smile, and you can’t help but smile back. 

    Your eyes feel pushed out as far as they can go, and your heart rate is finally slowing down. You made it through. You turn your head and hope that you never have to go through that again.

    This was my perspective on going down a street in Vancouver called Hastings. The many faces were faces of people without what we would call a shelter. They didn’t bother us, they might have said some things to me, and definitely got some stares. When we debriefed at the end of the day, I shared how terrified I felt. My heart was so heavy.  I thought I was going to cry at one point. We were all together, having a great day and the next thing I know, I am experiencing a massive wave of people who are living with nothing. Let’s just say all this is still sinking in.

    The Holy Spirit is stirring in all of our hearts - teaching, convicting, leading, and guiding us all the way. He is so active and I personally am becoming more sensitive to Him, so that I can trust and obey the Lord’s calling. Midway through the walk on Hastings, the verse from Timothy played in my head: "God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but a Spirit of love, power, and self-discipline." This verse is what kept me walking with confidence from God. I am so thankful for our prayer walk this morning through the forest. It was the end of our journey along the “sea wall” around Vancouver. What a breathtaking view that was. Soaking in God’s Creation, overwhelmed by His mercy and grace, while admiring the Pacific Ocean waves, mossy rocks, and blue mountains.
    r
  • #TEAMOTTAWA

    Section: Soccer

    Wow, where to even start?  (Canadian Soccer Project)

    Monday had to have been at least a weeklong. We had our first day of soccer camp, partnering with a Baptist church in Ottawa. When we arrived early to set up for the day, it was overcast and raining. We circled up and prayed at the beginning and someone prayed that it would stop raining. Literally right when we were done praying, the rain stopped. This was only our first “God-moment” in the day. The rain was off-and-on throughout the morning, but didn’t stop us from having fun and playing soccer with the kids. The day was a success; we had about 40 kids show up for camp.

    As this camp we are putting on is free, it is reaching out to a community that would not typically go to camp. They are in need of the Lord, discipline, and someone to love them and show them their worth. Our constant prayer is that we would have the energy to keep up with these kids and be able to pour out Christ’s love to them with the short time we have.

    Last night, we went to serve at the Jericho Coffee House, where homeless and low-income people go on Monday nights for delicious and warm dinners, fellowship, worship, and sharing. Ray, the man in charge of the coffee house, is a beautiful example of Jesus to the people in the way he loves and serves them. When we first got there, it was the typical awkward conversations and trying to find our place talking to the people. As people were conversing, one of the girls from our group was preparing her testimony to share in front of the people. She was really struggling (to the point of weeping in the bathroom) to find the right words to say and not feeling adequate to share in front of such a group. After talking to her and praying with her for at least 20 minutes, while the whole time she was crying, we realized maybe the Lord wanted her to share about her present struggle- not feeling like her story was adequate or relatable. 

    She was able to sit down and write out her struggle in less than 10 minutes. After praying for her to be able to come up with words, she read it. It was so beautiful. She was crying the whole time, but it was so evident that God wanted to use her story to reach out to the people. When the time came for her to share, she went up on stage and started reading. She began crying again as she was standing up on stage talking about not feeling adequate to stand in front of them and tell her story. People started yelling from the back, “We love you. Your story is worth telling.” “Don’t cry, we love you.” “Your story is good enough to tell.” And everyone started to clap for her. It was incredible. The Lord’s presence was so evident. She had been crying incessantly for the last hour. The darkness was so real when we were talking to her and praying and trying to figure out what she was feeling. We knew there was some serious spiritual warfare going on, and the devil was determined to keep her from sharing. Stories like that are encouraging because it proves that the Lord’s work is being done when the devil is throwing curve balls at us and trying to stop us from doing His work. She was able to go up on the stage and defeat the darkness, and everyone there was so touched by that.

    That was only one of many “God moments” at the Jericho Coffee House last night. We were able to have life-giving conversations with people, pray for them, offer encouragement, and be encouraged and blessed right back. God is doing great things in that community. There are so many broken lives, yet there is hope.

    At the end of the day, we were pretty wiped out to say the least. At the end of each day, we reflect together on the numerous ‘God moments’ throughout the day. Monday night, we could’ve stayed up for hours talking about all we had seen God do so far. We are continually in awe of all the cool things God is doing around us constantly, on our team, and in the cities.

    Until next time,

    Team Ottawa

    r

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