The MyAdventures Blogs are part of the Adventures in Missions Network
Johnny Apple Seed
It’s been a while since I started playing soccer/ football here and but more importantly telling the soccer guys about Jesus. Either Jon or I speak to them every Wednesday after practice. When I first got to Swaziland and began training with them, Jon or I would speak every training session, but that turned out to be too much, so we turned it down to once a week, and that has been good and has been good since. There was a lot of tension between the football players and Jon and I at first. They just didn’t like us. They would laugh at us, they wouldn’t pass to us, they wouldn’t talk to us, and they just seemed to be embarrassed to be seen with these white boys. I mean I look like a freak in Swazi culture; I have long curly locks of hair and an old biker-man beard… It was really hard. There was this time where we just dreaded going to training, I mean why would you go someplace where nobody likes you?
Things have been progressing a lot though. I mean a lot from when this first played out. I’ve recently started a men’s discipleship group. I had this vision of a brotherhood that is sustainable even after I’m gone. I want God to make strong disciples of these men. I want to teach them how to teach others, I want to teach them truth; I want them to see that they have to lead this community, and that they don’t need anything but God to do it. But for now, I have to take baby steps, most of these guys think living for God is something that it’s not and the truth is completely corrupt. So the men’s discipleship group, as of now, is just kind about establishing a brotherhood, outside of soccer, between these guys. I’m not gonna bring out the Bible or lay down the Jesus until, well, until it just comes out on its own I guess. I don’t want to scare them off ya know, they don’t think a Jesus life is the most appealing thing because that means they can’t have sex and they have to be bored at church. So for until then, it’ more like a “let’s talk about our lives” thing. They know and have come to me with problems and asking what I think and stuff, but I want them to have that same authentic community within themselves after I’m gone.
I have sound relationships with every guy, we talk and not just saying, “Hi,” and with the ones who can speak English (most of them can, or my subtle siSwati works fine if not) we can hold deep conversations. They come to me when they’re in need and I can pray over them and give them what I have. When I first started sharing the gospel with them, they would laugh and snicker, they would turn their bodies away or play in the dirt and stare at the ground trying to pass the time. But now, thank God, now they listen, I wish you could see their faces and how intently they receive what I’m saying. Now, I don’t know the extent of their receiving of the good word because I don’t know if they take what I say into action unto their life, but still they are listening. We worship every Friday night when they sleep over for the game on Saturday and I get the chance to pray over them. They love being around me and I love being around them, we are always cracking jokes with each other.
So with all of this (keep in mind I can’t list all the fruits I’ve seen come from these guys, these are just some of the major ones), I was really really stoked for the first men’s group meeting, Wednesday, before training at 3:30 or 4:00 for those who want to come. Well, 3:30 rolls up, I go outside and no one is around. 4:00 creeps in, I go outside and same result. 4:30 comes by, I go outside with the not the best of hopeful thinking and I see Bhegumusa walk in at the same time and says to me with arms up in confusion and a pissed look on his face, “Where is everyone?” “You tell me dude,” I said. Bhegumusa was one of my first friends here in Swaziland; he is in my 3 of best friends group of Mapile, Majabane, and Bhegumusa. So Bhegumusa and I took advantage of the time and sat down and talked, it was good. He was really bummed that no other guys had shown up, he told me, “I was really excited because I don’t have anyone I can normally talk to, and most of my friends usually laugh at my issues when I try to talk about them. Like when I impregnated Lungelo’s (his 2 year old son) mother and I nothing in my hands and couldn’t do anything to provide for her and Lungelo and I didn’t know what to do, and when I tried to talk to one of my friends about it, they didn’t take it serious at all and I really didn’t know what to do.”
I was really bummed out that not more of the guys came. I am just so excited for this. They all told me they would come; I even gave some guys money for the bus fare. Some told me they couldn’t make it because of stuff, like Mapile and Majabane because they were coaching the younger boy’s soccer team, but I had built up expectations for it and that broke my heart when they didn’t. See, sharing the gospel with them one night a week just isn’t enough anymore, there is now more room to push harder into their lives. I was real discouraged man, like I wanted to cry. I really love these guys and I don’t know what to do besides pray for them and for brokenness in their lives so they will have to fall on their face in front of Jesus. So please pray for that for them.
In my discouragement and being all bummed out in the dumps, God had shown me how much he has done. I remembered what it was like those first few weeks and what things are like now, how much we have grown with each other. He showed me all the differences in their lives; He showed me that he loves them and that they are not forgotten. He showed me fruit. You know what, maybe I’m not supposed to create radical followers of Jesus, maybe I’m not even going to get any deeper with the guys than I am now, maybe I’m not going to see one guy’s life change, maybe I’m not going to lead these guys to disciple each other, maybe I’m just supposed to plant seeds, maybe I’m just supposed to soften the dirt, even before the seeds are planted. Maybe God’s timing is better than yours, Bryan. I don’t know. I just have to keep being a light and letting Jesus come out of me, because maybe I am supposed to just soften the dirt, and honestly, that gives me joy.