Translation: I saw Jesus on the Move
The 2014 World Cup of Soccer drew the attention of the entire world! In June, AIA Soccer took a group of 24 men and 22 women to Brazil for a soccer missions tour. We went during the World Cup to compete, host kids camps and bring the love and message of Jesus. We engaged with college, semi-pro, and ex-professional players from Canada, United States, Australia, South Africa, Korea and Brazil. During this tour, both the men’s and women’s teams played 4 games versus semi-pro and amateur Brazilian soccer clubs. After each game there was an opportunity for our teams to share our faith, explain why we were in Brazil, and how thankful we were for the gift of soccer that God has given to us. In the mornings we worked with a soccer ministry called “Futebol Atos” which translates to “Acts Soccer”. Through this partnership we put on soccer camps for hundreds of kids around the city of Ipatinga. As a result of this tour, 3 individuals were baptized, We met with Brazilian athletes to follow up conversations of faith. 5000+ individuals were exposed to the gospel message, and 20+ spiritually multiplying disciples are now committed to starting waves of evangelism through their sport on their college campuses!
One of the most impactful things that I experienced while being in Brazil with Athletes in Action happened when a friend of mine was sharing her testimony with a large group of 12 and 13 year old children. Everytime we shared with younger kids we had to use translators because these children couldn’t understand English very well. The translators were mostly a random group of students from a local high school. Some of them were believers, but many of them were not. When my friend was sharing her testimony though, the translator broke down almost halfway through the story because it held such a deep message for her. She started crying, unsure if she would be able to continue to translate what was being said or not. Eventually she got through it for the sake of the younger audience, but afterwards she met with our group for a lengthy discussion, asking many questions and searching for a way to become a Christian and truly experience this love of Jesus. She explained to us how she was always aware of the Church and knew about religion but thought it had no application for her life. God truly used this teammate of ours to share His love through a powerful testimony to make an impact not only on the big audience but also the translator. I’ve recently talked with this translator, who was deeply impacted, and she is now participating in and helping lead other small groups within the new church she is attending!
God can surely make beautiful things happen out of ordinary circumstances. We witnessed this again and again in Brazil. The people there were very open to topics of religion, God, etc. however, just as in North America, many did not know about a personal relationship with The Lord. Because of their openness, we were able to have in depth talks and discussions with many of the athletes we played against throughout the two weeks spent in Brazil. I faithfully believe that our time spent there really opened up many eyes and ears to the gospel message as something more than just a religion; but actually a way of life and relationship through the power of Jesus Christ.
-Aaron Albu, AIA Affiliate staff member and soccer tour participant