Two miracles for one boy
By Mary Fichtinger | Ghana in West Africa
Sports Friends Ghana by Brian White.
In northern Ghana, West Africa, there is a town called Tamale. Fifteen-year-old Sherriff grew up on the outskirts of Tamale with his family, who are subsistence farmers. When Sherriff was about ten years old, his parents noticed a growth developing in his right nostril. They were hoping it would resolve on its own, but over the years it grew larger. They attempted to obtain medical care but were unable to pay for an operation that would remove the tumour. After a few years, the mass was protruding out of his nostril and obstructing it completely, as well as attracting flies constantly.
Sherriff began to live in isolation and shame, as his peers and even siblings mocked him continually because of his appearance. He hid, avoiding the public and even his old friends. He was very intelligent, but his academic performance declined as his hopelessness grew. Sherriff and his family deeply needed to find compassion and the embrace of a community, as well as guidance and assistance. Isolated but unable to bear their burdens alone, they were driven to despair over the situation. Sherriff found himself quietly and painfully observing life as the others around him lived it.
During his time of distress and hopelessness, a Sports Friends team formed and began practicing close by, under the leadership of Coach Daniel. Sherriff began attending the practices regularly, but only to watch, sitting alone under a tree. Coach Daniel took notice of this and invited him to play on his team. He encouraged his other players to love and accept this lonely young man, treating him as a friend and teammate.
Though Sherriff’s family was not Christian, his parents quietly agreed to let him participate on a Christian team, as they were happy for him to play where he was accepted, protected and mentored by a loving coach. Sherriff grew to be confident in his relationships on the soccer team, and he began to share some of the bitter pain surrounding his deformity. Coach Daniel became an anchor of encouragement to him, both on and off the field.
After a few months on the team, the Sports Friends Ghana leadership met Sherriff and began to ask God for a way to help him further. They shared his story and advocated for him before God’s people, who were eager to respond. Within ten days, the resources were provided for Sherriff to have surgery to remove the tumour that had for years been such a source of suffering to him. His life soon returned to his past experience of acceptance and “normalcy,” and now he participates in family, social life, academics and soccer with a new energy and expectation of good. But God had even greater plans for this boy, and he was eager to introduce him to a whole new life.
"But God had even greater plans for this boy, and he was eager to introduce him to a whole new life."
Through this display of God’s love for him personally, Sherriff’s heart was softened to receive the gospel. He learned that Jesus Christ is the solution to every need, and joyfully put his trust in Christ. He attended residential camp soon after and began to grow in his faith. His life is now marked with the peace of Christ’s presence; he is actively involved in Bible studies and is attending the local church.
As he grows in his faith, he is encouraged by his coach and he walks in the promise that Jesus will never leave him or forsake him. Sherriff’s parents were also so moved by Christ’s love that they courageously declared in public that they wanted their son to “be a Sports Friends boy.”
Praise God for His compassionate love and tender mercy toward Sherriff.
• Sherriff to grow in faith and share his story bravely.
• other young people in Ghana who are facing hopeless situations, that the love of Christ will be revealed to them so they can walk in new life.
This story first appeared in Sports Friends’ publication, “Stories from the Field.” Read about other young people finding belonging in the family of God through this SIM ministry.
Are you interested in ministering to children through athletics? Contact Sports Friends today to get involved.