Honduras soccer outreach draws children to faith in Christ
Any open field in Honduras is just begging for a game of fútbol. Bring out a ball, and the kids come running. In the midst of World Cup frenzy this summer, we launched a new soccer outreach for underprivileged communities.
In a field adjacent to banana plantations, 70 children gathered in 90-plus temperatures for the first tournament. Older and younger kids were mixed together into teams. Players waiting for their turn sat on benches in the shade. One small boy paraded a dead snake around for all the adults to see. And the whistle blew.
“The majority of the children are very excited because they have many problems in their houses, and it’s a way to get them outside of their problems and be able to contribute to their lives,” Moises Ayala, the program coordinator, said.
Over the next several months, Samaritan’s Purse is partnering with schools and churches to host six tournaments in four different areas of Honduras. The beloved sport offers a wonderful platform to teach children about Christ and help them get connected with their local churches.
“I want the project to keep the main focus, which is to share the Gospel,” Moises said. “This is something the local pastors have wanted to do, but they haven’t had someone organize it.”
While the kids enjoy playing their favorite game, it is the time off the field that often becomes the most meaningful. For many, it is the first time they have heard that Jesus cares about them and wants to have a personal relationship with them.
Watching her friends hear and understand this encouraged Helen Moncada, 14, who was already a believer.
“I have seen a lot accept Christ and reconcile with Christ,” she said. “I give thanks to God that this project came. I can see that the Gospel is being shared with people who have never heard it before.”
Francisco Contreras, 14, had been aware of Christianity, but he finally grasped the truth of the Gospel during his time with the soccer program.
“I have only heard about it, but now I really know what it’s about,” he said.
Francisco said he also learned things like how to pray and memorize Scripture to help him in his walk with the Lord.
Habits like these can be a lifeline in combating the daily pressures and fear of living in one of the most dangerous places in the world. In recent years, Honduras has seen increased violence due to drug cartels, street gangs, and lawlessness.
“We are finding out that a lot of kids are already starting to consume drugs, so I want this project to be an avenue to get them out of drugs, out of violence,” Moises said.
Through the project, the pastors are also helping the children get back into school, as these communities suffer from high dropout rates.
Blanca Hernandez, 11, gave her life to Jesus through the soccer outreach and believes she can be a voice of change among her peers.
“Now that I know Christ, I think I can be a good influence on the community, be an example for people, and also teach other people about God,” she said.
Andrea Garay, 12, also placed her faith in Christ and has already seen her life start to transform.
“I was very resentful, and I have seen that change this week,” she said. “Now I know that when I have problems, I can look for Jesus and know that He is there with me. I want to share the Gospel with people who don’t know about Christ.”
Long after the final whistle blows, the local pastors and congregations will continue to offer love and support for these children. We know that the faith and hope they experience can have a long-term impact on their families, schools, and neighborhoods.
Along with sharing her new faith with others, Andrea’s dreams for the future include staying in school and learning to work with computers.
“I want to do marvelous things,” she said.