Soccer Vs. American Football

My Grandkids play Soccer. They have uniforms, good athletic shoes, quality soccer balls and nice grassed fields to play on. Not so with the young people I watched in Kamwokya slum in June. They played on a hard, uneven dirt field with garbage piles on the sidelines. Their goals were made from rocks. Four rocks stacked two on either side of the goal that is only three feet wide. Their ball was old, greatly worn and under inflated. Every time they kicked the ball with their feet you heard the pop from the lack of air pressure. And as for shoes, I don’t remember seeing any. They were playing in their bare feet. But, they appeared to be happy. Would they love to have a grass field and proper balls and uniforms? Absolutely! But they were using what they had and they were good.

Justus leads new church in Bible Study

Justus leads new church in Bible Study

Now while they were playing Soccer, Pam and I was meeting with a house church in a small alleyway just across from the field. It was easy to see the game and occasionally the ball would leave the field and come our way. We had no building to gather in, no shade from the sun except for the occasional cloud, no musical instruments, no choir, no bathrooms, no air-conditioning. Just twelve people sitting together praying and reading and studying the Bible. But God was present and He taught me a valuable lesson. Well, actually two lessons.

Here is the first lesson. Church needs to be more like Soccer than American Football. Soccer can be played by anyone anywhere. Just drop a ball and people can kick it and play the game. On the other hand, American Football requires money, lots of money and equipment. It is only played in rich countries, mainly the US. One game is globally loved, played and followed, Soccer. The other game, American Football, is loved in the US but has little global appeal. The difference between the two: Soccer can be adapted to almost anyplace by anyone. American Football cannot.

In the US, churches own property and buildings. Most have paid pastors and staff members, PA systems, baptistries, bulletins, copiers, bathroom and lights that work. This is OK because we can pay for these luxuries. Maybe not the most effective method to make disciples of Jesus, but it can be effective in reaching a segment of the population. But this is not true in the majority of the world. For a church like we experience and love in the US to exist in the slums of Kampala would require a lot of money given from the US, or some other rich country. On the other hand, the house church I was meeting with in the slum can exist. Like the Soccer game across from it, it is barebones, minimal. It requires little. In fact, some would say its not even church because it has nothing. But don’t tell the people that. They are happy and life change is taking place as the Spirit of God moves among them. This is a model of church they can support and reproduce without our help or money. Listen, I love American football. I love watching it on TV and I played American football though middle school and High School, but if I wanted to involve the youth of the world in a sport, it would be Soccer. They could find a way to play long after I’m gone. This is why we focus on raising up indigenous house churches. They can find a way to meet and increase long after we’re gone.

Now, for lesson two. As I watched these young men enjoying a game of soccer in lest than ideal circumstances, I knew that I really did not appreciate the life I live or the numerous things I have. Neither do my kids or grandkids. And I feel very safe in saying, neither does yours or you. The more we have the more we want. The more we want the less satisfied we are with what we have. I couldn’t help but feel that the young men I saw playing that day on an uneven dirt field were happier than me. And as far the people I met with in the house church in the slum alleyway, I believe they are happier than most people you and I set with in air-conditioned buildings to experience church. We take all our blessings for granted and grumble and complain about the smallest things. Here is my prayer: Lord, help me to appreciate and enjoy the good life and things you have given me.

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