August 7th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
SAN ANTONIO – Team Brazil won one game and tied another during its church-run youth soccer league
But for Coach Alicia Flores, the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions-sponsored team’s record, stats and strategy all mean little compared to the league’s primary purpose: sharing the love of God with those who most need it in the community. For a team consisting mostly of orphans, that couldn’t have been more appropriate.
“The most important thing isn’t the winning for the soccer team,” Flores said. “It’s improving on their skill and most definitely building relationships with them every practice, every game and trying to connect with them and those who maybe were upset about a certain little thing that may have happened and getting down on one knee and looking them eye to eye and trying to truly connect with them.”
The children, between the ages of four and seven-years-old, were recruited to play in the league organized and run by South San Filadelfia Baptist Church as a way to increase the young people’s self esteem and team work as well as connect them with people who will care about them. The youth live at St. Peter-St. Joseph Children’s Home.
Flores, who admits she knows little about soccer, is one of several people who stepped up to lead the team. As adults met the children for the first time and learned more about their respective situations, they found ways to show they care about the children. Those moments included group prayer at the end of practices, words of encouragement and one-on-one practice time. When tears fell, coaches provided a shoulder to lean on; when smiles emerged, coaches helped them grow.
“They miss their homes and their families,” Flores said. “They really didn’t want to go back to being at the shelter and stuff. It really touched my heart.”
Throughout the season, the Lord opened Flores’ eyes to the plight of young people.
“God really helped me see that some children aren’t growing up with families,” she said. “Go and love on them.”
Tom Revilla, South San Filadelfia Baptist Church’s coordinator of community programs, said the soccer league connects the church will more than 300 people, including family members. It provides a practical way for church members to build relationships with non-Christians and show people the love of God.
At the end of the season, all the teams come together for a closing ceremony. Each player receives a trophy. Community and ministry organizations offer a variety of services such as free teeth cleaning for young people. They also hear about the hope of Christ.
“One of the greatest things we do is when we present the trophies, we present the gospel to them as well,” Revilla said. “We’ve been blessed enough to have some of the families in these programs come and join the church and accept Christ as their savior and become active members in our church.”
Revilla thanked individuals who give to the Mary Hill Davis offering for undergirding the soccer league. It’s impact was truly felt on Team Brazil, and the other teams as well.
“Without the generous offering that they gave us, this program would not have been possible,” he said.
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