The idea for the tournament was out of a desire to reach the men of Puerto Maldonado for Christ, using their pastime. We do very well with our 6 women missionaries to reach the women, but my thought was that we needed to fight the problem of prostitution, drugs and violence in our city from all angles. We couldn’t just fight the problem of prostitution with our prostitution ministry efforts, we needed to address the problem that the men have as well. We planned the date of our tournament to coincide around two very important factors. The invitation of Felix Vargas and the arrival of 23ish Treveca University Students for a Short term missions project. Without these two factors we also could not have been as successful, thanks to all of you.
Putting on something like this requires a different type of strategy than I was used to in the US. We needed 1) a cash prize for the winner, S/1000 for first prize in order to have participants. 2) other prizes so that the players will attend the final main event with Felix even though their teams may have been eliminated. 3) promotion, promotion, promotion so that they will sign up. We did all of the above very well. We spoke on the television 4 times, radio countless, made banners, handed out forms at the courts, made a commercial, talked with the mayor, etc, but it really all comes down to FAITH. We had a series of deadline, but it wasn’t until the night before the tournament that we had 19 teams sign up, talk about testing our faith. That’s 152 competitors. GLORY TO GOD!
We organized the tourny much like the March Madness or World Cup bracket but with double elimination. In total we had 36 different matches to plan in one single day. We used 5 courts and a small stadium to host the final three matches at night. The response was incredible from the teams, they had never been a part of a bracket tournament like this and on the dawn of the World Cup it was perfect timing. They loved it even if they did end up losing. The matches went steadily from 8:30am to 5pm and then at 7pm Felix Vargas shared his testimony. Felix is an ex-member and hitman for the drug cartel in Cali, Columbia. He shared his incredible testimony and had the group of hardened men, cheering and participating as he shared his story of redemption.
PLEASE WATCH his testimony if you get the chance it is powerful. English Subtitles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71flRXvja04&feature=related
We are so encouraged to see God make an impact in the lives of these men who play soccer daily on courts within feet from prostitution bars. This macho culture is very hard to change and we are seeing that the work put in by all, and the work that was completed on the cross is sufficient. That night 59 people accepted Christ, 40 of them were men. We were able to get their information following the event and we are now busy doing follow up. To see that these men are breaking free from their former lives and beginning to lead their families is a huge huge deal. Just yesterday as our team of boys went out to meet with one of these participants and during the meeting his wife gave up her life to Christ and together they are being discipled.
Upon planning this event, our desire was that this would not just be a one time thing, and in talking with Pastor Freddy, we decided to promote it as “The First Annual” and that the church would continue this in much past our time here. With the positive response we have received, when I see players on the street, they ask when are we doing it again. Thank you all for your help, prayers and supports for this event.
Oh yeah, and the final match came down to penalty kicks, it was epic.
O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1