Sports Ministry Brings Liberian Children Health and Healing

May 2, 2018 • Liberia
Children and youth in Liberia are learning to heal and hope in Christ through Active Fellowship.
Children and youth in Liberia are learning to heal and hope in Christ through Active Fellowship.

Children in Liberia learn valuable skills and hear the Gospel through Biblically-based sports ministry

Kumba, 17, still has bullet fragments in her leg from when she was shot at age 10; she also has many emotional wounds caused by the husband who abandoned her and the death of her newborn two years ago.

Kumba's inner strength comes from her faith in Jesus Christ. Through Active Fellowship she has learned to rely more on Him.

Kumba’s inner strength comes from her faith in Jesus Christ. Through Active Fellowship she has learned to rely more on Him.

But these difficulties fade for a little while as she learns to laugh and play again—without fear. She’s enjoying her day in the sun with 350 other youth at a tournament put on by Active Fellowship in Ndehuma, Liberia.

This Samaritan’s Purse program is an avenue to disciple and mentor Liberian youth through physical activity and through Bible study. In addition to track and field and other sporting events, Active Fellowship offers dozens of games that specifically teach life skills such as hygiene, respect, conflict resolution, and recovering from trauma.

The contact, exertion, fun, and competition of the events stimulate children to begin processing the many issues they face. Relational walls come down and young people can face their fears in a productive way. Our Samaritan’s Purse staff then come alongside to point them to the transforming love of God and the power of the Gospel in their everyday lives.

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“Sports give children and youth a way of dealing with difficult issues they might not be able to deal with otherwise,” said Joseph Kettor, who manages the Active Fellowship program. “Children develop a sense of community, of self-worth, and the ability to communicate more effectively with others.”


Joseph discovered the value of sports-related ministry after starting such a program for refugee children in the camp where he lived for five years during the Liberian Civil War. He’s worked with our Active Fellowship program for six years and has seen countless children move past stigma and fear and find healing—first through the power of play and then, more solidly, in the life-changing message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Life isn’t all about being too serious. It’s also about playing,” Joseph said. “And being a part of this program has led to my own transformation and healing, and it’s helped me lead others to God.”

In recent years, the program has had great impact in Ebola-affected communities. As a part of the curriculum, children who lost loved ones during the Ebola crisis have been taken through Biblically-based material for healing after trauma. Silences have been broken, grief has been dealt with in a positive manner, and seeing children playing again is an encouragement to everyone.

Depending on God

Kumba has developed her life skills through the program. She’s also embraced a Biblical perspective that helps her maintain a joyful heart no matter what circumstances she’s facing.

Through Active Fellowship, children in Liberia are learning to "run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus" (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Through Active Fellowship, children in Liberia are learning to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Our team has seen her come out of her shell over the past year as she’s discovered what it means to be part of a community. The program has allowed Kumba to make lots of friends and meet youth from other regions during competitions.

As Kumba has experienced the love of God’s people and the transformation found in the truth of God’s Word, she’s gained a new outlook on her painful past.

“When a problem meets you, the only person you can depend on is God,” she said. “Your worry cannot do anything for you.”

As she’s grown in faith she has learned to believe God and trust in His plans for her future. Now she is able to forgive those who have hurt her and to turn to Jesus as a friend who will never leave her nor forsake her.

“I feel loved by my team members, and I believe that God transformed me and showed me that He loves me,” Kumba said. “I have hope in Jesus as I am told in the Active Fellowship sessions, and I believe it in my life. I was a dropout from church, but with what I learned, I have made up my mind to rejoin the church in my community. I see there is still hope for my life in the Name of Jesus.”.

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Ebola one year later Liberia
Liberia Projects As Liberia continues to recover from the Ebola outbreak, Samaritan's Purse is helping thousands of people through projects such as hospital reconstruction, leadership training, and programs that help people who are vulnerable and at-risk and children. As our staff members work to build resiliency in the country, they are sharing the love of Christ.

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