More Than Just a Game
Happy Sabbath from Nigeria! My name is Mr. Sylvanus, and I’m a truck driver on the staff of Babcock University in Nigeria.
When I came to Babcock, I learned that there were many non-Christian young people who either attended the school or lived in the community.
“Jesus,” I prayed, “these are Your children. Please show me a way to reach them for You.”
A few months later, a strong young man approached me. “Mr. Sylvanus, we’ve organized a football team on campus that will participate in a league,” he said. “But this isn’t just about football. It’s about mission. It’s one of our Adventist Youth Ministry projects to reach out to young people who don’t know Jesus. We need a coach. Will you help us?”
Wow, what could be better? I thought. I love football, I love young people, and I love sharing Jesus. This job is a perfect match for me!
“We Don’t Play Ball!”
When I began coaching, I started every training session with prayer and a short worship. About half the guys on our team aren’t Adventists, so I explained to them why we wouldn’t be playing on Friday night and Saturday. When other teams wanted to schedule a match on Sabbath, I told them, “Saturday is for the Lord. We don’t play ball.” Many people who had never heard of Babcock University have learned about the Sabbath through our team. For us, the football field is a mission field where we show people God’s love.
There’s one player that I firmly believe God sent to us. His name is Jamiyu. There were two things that I noticed about this boy. He never missed a practice, and he never said a word. I admired his determination to learn the game, but his skills needed improvement.
One day I called Jamiyu over and asked how he was doing. “Fine,” he said quietly. We chatted a few minutes, and then I asked how things were going at home.
A Struggle to Survive
“Not so fine,” Jamiyu replied. “My dad died recently, and when that happened, my mother took my siblings and left.”
I was shocked. “Your mom left you to fend for yourself?” Jamiyu nodded, his eyes glistening with tears.
Jamiyu had needed to drop out of school. Fortunately, he was staying with a friend, but every day had been a struggle to survive. There was only one thing he cared about anymore, and that was football. That was enough for me. I took him under my wing, helping him to train better and giving him food and clothes. When he got a job at a laundry service, I helped him open a bank account so that he could save money to go back to school.
I told Jamiyu that Jesus loved him and that I loved him too. And when I invited him to join our Adventist Youth Ministry program, he eagerly accepted. He’s currently thinking about becoming a follower of Jesus.
I’m so glad God is using the things I’m passionate about to share His love. What are the things you like to do? God can use them in His service too!