GUADALAJARA -- As the little boys gathered around preparing for the final game in their soccer tournament, River Ministry coordinator Pedro Munoz reminded them that this was the moment they had been preparing for over the past month.
"Some of you will be winners today, as your team wins the tournament, but all of you can be winners if you give your life to Jesus Christ," he said.
Arenas, the area where these boys were playing, can be very dangerous at times. When Pedro was on the street the day before, he encountered teenagers with cocaine and marijuana in hand, not fazed by the public visibility. Located on the outskirts of town, Arenas is known to have drug and violence problems. Bringing the No Mas Violencia soccer tournament here was a great outreach to the community, providing encouragement to many parents and community leaders who do not want to see children grow up in a neighborhood surrounded by violence.
Seven No Mas Violencia tournaments were held in and around Guadalajara this past weekend, each hosted by a church plant in the neighborhood. The church plants are part of the Emmanuel Baptist Regional Association in Guadalajara, sponsored and supported by Texas Baptists. We help provide funding for the churches, as well as training and support through mission trips like the one this past week led by Daniel Rangel, River Ministry coordinator. According to Omar Rodriguez, president of the association, less than 2% of the people in this region are Christians. There is a huge need for the Gospel to be shared across this region.
The soccer games opened with prayer and reminders about the need to love and respect each other. The communities really rallied around the cry for no more violence as they embraced the theme of the tournament. Not only were church leaders able to share this basic and much-needed message, but they were also able to provide an alternative activity for children, teenagers and adults in their neighborhood.
Many of the areas where the tournaments were held do not have an official soccer league or any type of organized activities for the area residents. By hosting these tournaments, young boys and girls were able to have something exciting to look forward to all month. Most importantly, several people gave their life to Christ this week after hearing the Gospel at outreach events around the soccer games.
We watched our final game last night and stayed for the awards ceremony at the end. The two adult men teams were obviously talented and played a great game. As trophies were handed out at the end, one team of young boys rushed to the front, all reaching to touch the prized reward. The smiles on their faces were contagious and it was clear to everyone around that they worked hard to receive the prize.
Our mission team is leaving today, but there is still much work left to be done. Please pray for the churches in Guadalajara in the coming weeks and months as they see results from the outreach in their communities. Pray for more salvations and for the work God is doing in Guadalajara through the workers He has called to serve this area.
To read more about the work in Guadalajara read: The need for No Mas Violencia in Guadalajara