Updated: Feb 24
Last November, a team from Colorado went on a medical mission trip down the Amazon River in Brazil. During their time there, they worked with a number of different riverside people in need of medical attention. BUT no mission trip to Brazil is complete without a few games of soccer. Two local Brazilians shared with us the importance of soccer in their local communities and the church. They explained how the game is what unites the communities throughout Brazil and ultimately helps in the sharing of hope found in the gospel story. Here are their stories. Diego: In most communities, sport is the only means of entertainment that riverside people have. And as you might expect in Brazil, the favorite sport of the people is a good old football game. From children to the elderly, everyone has this taste in common so when carrying out missions to the Amazonas State it is important to keep in mind that sport is an intense and important evangelism tool. Therefore, in a symbolic act, at the end of each [church] service in each community two balls are given to the community members whose leaders are. In this way they can continue the work of evangelism previously started by the boat, at times when community members get together to practice sports using their influence to preach the word of God. Isa: In the day-to-day life we constantly take for granted small things that we are blessed with. To be able to visit those villages and see for ourselves the contrast between our lives and theirs, serves as a remarkable reality check. As a kid, being able to grow up with an infinity of toys made me one lucky kid, as well as being able to have access to medical support, to go to places by car, etc. We’ve seen people take a speed boat to the town we were at just so they could have medical attending. Imagine spending hours on a small wooden boat just so that your son could have a check-up. We heard stories about towns that had no health utilities at all and people who couldn’t afford to buy medicine. Furthermore, we were able to meet a ton of kids and see how much they were eager to meet us, because we were their piece of the outer world, due to the fact that some of them had never left the village. Coupled with that, television was also a tool for them, but no cable TV access though. In Brazilian local channels, there are soap operas, the news, some tv shows, but of course: soccer. Kids see stars like Neymar, Pelé and Marta on TV and they look up to them, so soccer becomes one of the great activities every village has. Kids gather around during afternoons and spend hours playing it. To be able to hand them soccer balls is to encourage some of their dreams. Nevertheless, the most special thing we experienced was being able to tell them about God and the wonders he can do for us. Dreams to achieve, places to go, things to do; all of that is small near the blessing He can shower us with.