Manuel trains Mbya Guaraní children in football
By Manuel and Christine | Paraguay in South America
Manuel, a short-term SIM worker in Paraguay from Switzerland, is using his enthusiasm for sport to proclaim the gospel. He and fellow SIM member Mark have developed a football training initiative with a local school of the Mbya Guaraní, an indigenous people group. This is Manuel’s account of the ministry opportunity.
It was Tuesday, and I was on the bus to Curuguaty, where I would hold football (or soccer) training for children from a nearby school.
Mark had been living there with his family and serving among the Mbya Guaraní. He led the training with me. Through the programme, we hoped to establish contact with the school in order to develop a relationship with the community in years to come.
Up to this point, we had been busy planning the exercises and buying supplies for the training. At a supermarket, we bought bread, meat, and some footballs for the children. It was not easy, because I didn't know how many would take part or what ages they would be.
The village where the training took place was an hour from Curuguaty. When we arrived, I noticed the houses did not have electricity and many lived in poverty. Some children were already waiting on the playing field and were happy we came. As we set up, more and more children arrived.
We started with a warm-up exercise. After stretching, we divided the children into four groups to compete in activities. They learned to pass, shoot accurately, dribble and run with the ball. We encouraged them to use accuracy and speed.
After a break to eat, we sang Christian praise songs, and the children joined in enthusiastically. Then, we showed a portion of the ‘Jesus film’ in their language and the children watched intently.
At the end of the training, we held a football tournament. And before we said goodbye, we gave out sweets to the participants as a small prize.
Around 40 children took part, and it turned out to be a great success. The village leader was so happy that he asked us to put on another training session. We are thankful to God that everything worked so well.
That day confirmed to me that sport is one of the best ways for me to share the gospel. Let’s use sport to show Jesus’ love!
Mark said: "Manuel’s soccer ministry was our first connection with the village school and teachers. Besides blessing so many children and letting them hear the story of Jesus, we have followed up with one teacher who is a believer and are talking about other ways we can help the school!"
• The children who participated in the football training to be discipled in the Word of God.
• Mark and the SIM team to continue building relationships through sport in order to share Christ's love.