He recently turned 13 and is a member of one of the Sports Friends teams in the city of Blantyre, Malawi. Over the past two years, his coaches have poured their lives into coaching and discipling him to love Christ.
Recently, we had a day of prayer and fasting for the ministry of Sports Friends Malawi. To be honest, we were a bit surprised at Gift’s interest to join us all day for such a “difficult” spiritual exercise. We told him we’d love to have him there, but we explained that he would have to find a way into the center of the city where we planned to meet. Gift lives about 5 miles from the city center, so I definitely did not expect him to come.
But, to my delight, I saw Gift and one of his other soccer buddies walk in as we were getting started, soaking wet from the long, rainy walk, but full of smiles and joy. Both of them were a great blessing to everyone present at the meeting and were such a reminder to all that these kids are capable of doing great things for the Lord.
At the end of the day of prayer, Gift approached the coaches and told us that he really felt a strong desire to begin teaching the Word of God to others.
He said, “I think God wants me to share His Good News to my friends. Can I please be involved in the teaching times so I can grow in this area of my life and be faithful to what the Lord is asking me to do?”
My answer was an obvious yes!
After a time of preparation, last week Gift taught to a group of over 40 of his peers. He taught from Colossians 1:15-23 on how “Jesus Christ IS the Gospel.” He then closed the day by reciting the whole passage by memory.
It was clear to all that this was more than just a spiritual exercise – the passage had sunk from his head to His heart. You could see His face glow with the joy of the Lord as he boldly shared the truth about God to his peers.
We have been deeply challenged by Gift. God has reminded all of us coaches not to overlook those whom we lead, thinking that they are just like we were as youngsters. No, we have poured our lives and God’s Word into these kids for the past 2 and a half years, and we should expect the Holy Spirit to move powerfully.
God is revealing Himself to the youth of Malawi in profound ways. From such an early age, they are learning what it means to feast on the presence of the Lord while fasting from food, to dedicate themselves to prayer, and to preach His word boldly.
Who knows how God will use these youth next?
God, may there be more Gifts in Malawi! Continue to raise up coaches to pour daily into this generation of youth who long for Jesus more than the basic necessities of life!