Pepe entered his living room. His parents sprawled on the couch with sickened grins, unaware anyone had come into the room. Pepe’s shoulders slumped in disappointment. Stoned again.
Then the rumble of fury began in the pit of his stomach. The all-to-familiar rage climbed into his throat. He tried to stop it, but the wrath spewed from his mouth like air escaping from a deflating balloon. The fire inside consumed his self-control, and flying objects joined the onslaught of his words. A glass lamp shattered on the floor before Pepe stormed back outside as laughter erupted from the sofa.
Each step Pepe took along the dusty Mexican street brought back hurts and frustrations. His father was a corrupt high-ranking police officer. He used his position to steal drugs and have his way with young girls who became addicted and pregnant. His mother resisted drugs for a long time, but eventually, her husband got her addicted too. That’s when Pepe’s anger began in earnest. When his uncle later raped him, Pepe’s unbridled hysterics were uncontrollable. Doctors and medication did not help. Broken and helpless, Pepe sought assistance.
Seedtime and Harvest’s Saved by Soccer
At the age of 12, Pepe encountered Seedtime and Harvest’s Saved by Soccer program. Paco, the coach and native missionary, immediately identified with this young boy. He saw himself in Pepe’s anger and sadness. A special love developed.
Under Paco’s guidance, controlled aggressive action on the soccer field replaced Pepe’s vulnerabilities. Prayers before and after games and training sessions changed his focus. Memory verses renewed his mind, and the Holy Spirit moved in him. Love pushed out discouragement. Compulsory church attendance provided him with the sense of a stable family. Then came a strange turning point.
Footwear in soccer provides traction, power, speed, and confidence. Worn-out soccer shoes with worn-down cleats are uncomfortable and dangerous. Pepe’s game was suffering, but no one had money for new shoes. Paco told him, “Cry out to God for what you need.” Though he lacked the belief that God would actually answer a prayer of such insignificance, Pepe did pray.
A week later, a visiting church group arrived at the ministry asking for Paco. They presented him with five suitcases. Pepe watched as Paco opened the first one. Countless pairs of new top-end brands of soccer shoes with solid cleats spilled onto the floor. Paco knowingly smiled at Pepe’s astonished face. This miraculous answer to prayer convinced Pepe that Jesus was real and the Bible was true. Accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior transformed Pepe’s life, and joy and peace replaced frustration and anger.
Pepe grew in his relationship with his heavenly Father. Six months later, he invited his parents to church. Every word shared from the pulpit entered them like knives used on the streets. This was different. This was real! They went again the next week and the next, soon making their way to the altar. Pepe’s father surrendered, “We want to be used by You, Lord!” Addictions vanished, and convicted hearts were cleansed. They immersed themselves in prayer and consumed the words of the Bible like candy.
ANM had previously sent funds to build a small ministry center consisting of one open room on the bottom floor and two classrooms on the second. Seedtime and Harvest called it The Ark. Pepe’s parents began using The Ark to host a Bible study. The participants grew in number and in their understanding of Jesus. Today it is the largest and most fruitful study in the area.
Pepe’s life is an example to youth and adults alike. He attends a home group of committed believers. One night a young man who had been a hit man for former drug cartel leader, El Chapo, showed up. He was an enforcer who beat up people who could not pay for their drugs. He also dealt with contraband and was a heavy drug user himself. But he wanted out. The group embraced him and saw deliverance and transformation. Pepe baptized him seven months ago.
Seedtime and Harvest’s ministry of Saved by Soccer influenced Pepe and his parents to attend church and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. His parents are now helping many others find Christ.
And Pepe? He is in solid fellowship with other Christians. Pepe plays soccer and has begun to fulfill his long-time dream of becoming a doctor. He is now in medical school and is at the top of his class.
Soccer balls are inexpensive. They also keep minds and bodies occupied in healthy ways. And when given to a ministry like Saved by Soccer, they help transform lives with the love of Jesus.