How God uses our talents to express His love

A story of reaching out locally through playing football

By Jonathan Abarca, YWAM Trentino base staff

What does the word ministry really mean?

We don't need to overcomplicate things. Jesus was doing ministry all the time, and it wasn’t only when He healed the sick. Jesus invested in people, saw people in need, hurting, looking for something and helped them to find that one thing; the path that leads to a life lived to the fullest.

So what is ministry? It's doing what Jesus did, showing people how to live their life to the fullest, which is something that can only happen when Jesus is part of our lives.

I love playing football. I grew up in Costa Rica and there were not really many options for sport, so football was an easy pick for me. From this love of football I want to share how God has been using this sport to bring people together and how it has helped with building new connections in my life in Italy.

Six months ago, I moved to Italy with my family (5 kids under 10!). We are still in the process of settling down, but one thing that I enjoy, and also what helps me to relax and destress, is football. As a simple answer of wanting to play football, along with others we brought together everything we needed, a pitch, a ball and most importantly, people. I started to ask everyone I met! Where? Everywhere! At the park, asking dad’s as they watch their kids play, on the street while evangelizing, the man at the bread store, at church and everywhere until there were enough people to play.

So this led us to "ministry": doing something we love to connect with people and at the same time making friendships while shining Jesus.

Out of all the people playing, God highlighted two young men. Through playing I have been able to invest in them, encourage them, show them I have their back and push them outside their comfort zone so they can find themselves.

I’ve been encouraged to hear and see how our new friends have grown in confidence, in focus and security, besides playing football better. At the same time they are learning to work as a team by gaining trust in the other’s that are playing. We’ve seen this trust grow simply with the ball being passed more amongst the team. Through playing football together there are life values of Jesus that we can pass on in simplicity and it’s amazing to see God working in this way.

Next week we will start a Bible study with the two young men and another guy that plays with us. We will meet, have a snack and read the Bible together as we all discover Jesus together.

God is so good, it all started as a simple desire to play football, but when we give our attention to God, he turns our talents into “ministry” and it leads to discipleship.

So go ahead, do ministry wherever you are. Use your gifts and abilities to love, help and walk with people and as you do this, shine Jesus to them and share about Him while doing ministry and discipleship.


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