The Road is Slippery
As we drove into the village on Friday the road was muddy and the red dirt was so slick it was like driving on ice. As we splashed through the puddles, the mud tires and 4-wheel drive struggled to keep us straight and on the road I thought to myself “The road is slippery and it’s easy to slide off track.”
It was a tough day when we first arrived and the kids were unusually rambunctious and rowdy. John, the Ugandan staff member who leads soccer outreach had been delayed and had not yet arrived. Once John arrived, the whole atmosphere changed. The kids were receptive and ready to play futbol. There were so many kids there that John divided the group up into older boys and younger boys. While the older boys played futbol, John spoke to the younger boys. John immediately had their attention and was bringing the truth of the Gospel to them. It was exciting to see the young boys engaged and asking so many questions. More encouraging was the fact that they keep coming back week after week.
When John finished with the younger boys it was time to turn the attention to the older boys. After a good 30 minutes of game time, John stopped them and gathered them for a teaching session. As he spoke to them about the character of God, one of the older boys began heckling him, telling John that Jesus was not real and that his stories were made up. John continued bringing truth and teaching about God and the young man continued to heckle and told John “I am Muslim, I don’t care about your Jesus, I just want to play futbol.” When he said this it hit me like a ton of bricks, it made a sinking feeling in my stomach.
“Why are we even here then?” “Why are we even trying?”
Then I realized, this is exactly why were are here, this is exactly why we are trying. This is the exact reason that we started this outreach program! In the end the young man was polite and let John finish and even thanked us for always bringing the futbols. Even though he was only there “to play futbol” he still heard John's teaching. I also thought back and this young man has been there every single week and you know what, I bet he will be there next week too. He is hearing…. He is seeing…. Maybe God is working on the soil of his heart in order to plant a seed.
As the game resumed I watched these young men playing and I realized I have no idea what life has been like for them. I have no idea the hardships some of them have suffered, I have no idea what life has dealt them. I have no idea why they have so little trust in me as an outsider. A perfect example of this is a young man named Derek. I can honestly say Derek is the reason this soccer outreach program was started. Standing under a mango tree one day Derek told me that all the stories we read out of the Bible are made up and that there is no Jesus. I told Derek that before my time in Uganda was finished that I was going to convince him otherwise. From that conversation our soccer outreach program was born.
I would love to tell you that I have convinced Derek that there is a Jesus and that he has turned his life over to Christ. The truth is that I have made very little progress with Derek. He still barely speaks to me, in fact Friday he was angry with me because I would not give him a soccer ball. He lashed out at me and told me to leave, “forget you, just go" he said. Yet, he continues to come, he continues to play and he continues to hear the Word of God when John teaches at halftime.
As we left the village that day my pride was wounded and I asked John, “How am I going to make Derek stop being so angry? How am I ever going to reach Derek? How am I going to make him come to see the truth about Christ?” John’s response was perfect. "You’re not", he said……………ouch.
“It is only going to be God that reaches him” What words of wisdom and what perfect timing. John spoke truth to those boys on Friday and he also spoke truth to me on the ride home. I was trying to make it about me, but the truth is that it’s never about me, its about God.
As we drove away, I thought to myself, “The road is slippery and it’s easy to slide off track.” This time is was not regarding the road, but regarding my heart, my agenda and my thinking that I was going to reach Derek or any of the boys for that matter.
Not me, but Him. His timing and His Will be done.