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Courage in the face of adversity

2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (NIV)

Picture the scenario. It’s the semi-final game in a soccer tournament. You are trailing by one goal with less than five minutes left in the match. You’re tired. You’re hurting. You have fought every step of the way, but just can’t score the equalizer. You leave nothing on the field, but the final whistle blows, and you can’t secure a win that would send you to the final. As the opposing team celebrates a hard fought victory, you sit in the grass, head down, while the brilliant rays of a golden sun slowly fade into twilight.

In that moment, you have to somehow put aside the disappointment of losing the battle, and turn your focus onto what is going to be shared with the other team. With tears in your eyes, you have to stand up in front of guys that have been cursing and hurling racial slurs at  you the entire game, and share about Jesus and One7. It’s easy when you win. it’s a completely different story when you lose.

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We don’t win every game or tournament we participate in, so it’s inevitable that this situation will happen. There’s really no way to prepare for it. You go into every match thinking you will secure a victory. Not out of arrogance or pride, but with a sense of confidence in your self and the other members of your team. The guys you sweat, bleed, and fight with on the soccer field. Your brothers. Your family.

Our teams face persecution nearly every single game they play. It comes in many different forms. Other players cursing at them, purposefully trying to injure them, or just repeatedly tossing racial remarks in their direction. As hard as it is, our guys don’t retaliate. They play respectfully and with great sportsmanship. Then win or lose, they stand in front of their persecutors and share the Gospel. There have been some amazing, life-changing stories that come out of sharing with the other teams.

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Everything we do at One7 is for God’s glory. We understand nothing in this life is guaranteed. We have just a short time on this earth to proclaim the message of Christ to a lost and darkened world. While we have other avenues to accomplish this such as community outreach, discipleship, and serving others, soccer is our biggest stage. We will never take advantage of that fact and just passionately play the sport for our own glory,

God gave us the best Heaven had to offer when He gave us Jesus. We owe it to Him to give our best in everything we do.

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Living the Gospel

As we go through life, we often miss the everyday needs of people all around us. We see desperation the most when we deliver food or clothing to apartments, where so many families are in need, .

The last two days, One7 has delivered all the wonderful clothing and shoes, that so many people have generously donated, to a nearby apartment complex where many refugees live. When you drive in, it’s like entering a third world country. The moment anyone realizes that you are giving anything away, they come running. It’s not like what you see on the news, where people are trampling over one another to get the best deal on a laptop for Christmas. This is out of sheer desperation to gather warm clothing for their family. As soon as we started handing out clothes, everyone’s arms were reaching out, trying to get at least one article of clothing. Others were pushing their way through, trying to get closer to our trailer for a glimpse of hope and love. When our donations were all gone and there was nothing else to give, some of our leaders even took the jackets off their backs and gave them away.

Part of what we show our kids at One7, is even when their life is hard and their family is struggling, there is always someone else hurting and struggling more. We are to be the His hands and feet to those who don’t know there is a living God who loves each and every one of them. That’s how God uses us, to show the world His love.

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Pictures Have a Voice

Pictures can be a very powerful thing. They are inanimate objects, therefore unable to talk or speak aloud. However, their silent voices can move people in ways that sometimes spoken words are unable to. This one picture speaks volumes about why we play soccer.

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This picture was taken by a parent from the other team that lost to our One7 boys in the finals two weeks ago. The parent emailed us and said that her son was the goalie. In the middle of a final with both teams fighting hard to win, David Mbuyu (Number 11 in the picture) from One7, took a shot with the game on the line and her son made the save. This boys mom said that she was amazed to see the One7 player walk up to her son and congratulate him for making a great save during the middle of a final.

When our teams are out on that soccer field, they represent God in the way they play, speak, and act. Sure, there have been times when they get mad or lose their cool. No one’s perfect. They are, after all, human. It’s going to happen. What matters is how they react when things go wrong. We always like to win, but that’s not why we play this great sport. We want to show people the love of Jesus in everything we do. That includes soccer. We have the opportunity to reach so many people with the Gospel using this platform.

We also received the following letter after that same tournament.

“Dear One7 Ministries Staff, Our son plays on the Carolina Elite Soccer Academy U-18 Boys’ Challenge soccer team. We played your boys’ 95 team at the Under Armour Tournament in Rock Hill. Our son talked about how impressed he was with them, both on and off the field, and how much he enjoyed playing them. He also talked about how special he thought the after game time was and how much it meant to him. We read about your program online and felt lead to support your wonderful ministry. The work you are doing is so important and worthwhile and we know God will bless you and the people you are helping. Please let the boys on the soccer team know how much we appreciate their willingness to stand up and make a difference for God. He is definitely using them to reach young people in a generation that is in desperate need of Him. We will be praying for you all. God bless.”

Our players are continuing to see how their faith shines like a light to all who watch them. We are so proud of the testimony they show on the field as well as what they share after each game. Their faith is impacting lives everywhere they go. Sharing the gospel through soccer.

Make sure to follow One7 on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day.

Soccer Time!

Wow, what a weekend. We entered five of our One7 teams into the Charlotte United Under Armour Cup. Five teams, twenty games. It’s stressful and chaotic enough when we have one team in a tournament, much less five. Paperwork, player cards, socks, balls, and whatever else were finally secured at some point in the wee morning hours on Saturday. First game was at 8am. We utilized our three 15 passenger vans, one 12 passenger, one Nissan Altima, and one Doge minivan for transportation. It was pretty crazy.

We don’t just enter these tournaments to win games. Yes, to bring back a trophy for each team would have been nice, but we play for a much higher purpose. These events give us the opportunity to share Jesus with people we wouldn’t normally meet. After each game, one of our players shares with the other team about One7, God, and gives a brief, personal testimony. We also present the opposing team’s best sportsmanship player a Man of the Match award, which is normally an iTunes card. It’s always fun to watch their faces when we do that even after losing a game.

God uses our testimony on and off the field to touch people. After sharing, a lot of times the parents from the opposing team will give us gift cards, gas cards, and sometimes even cash donations. These are always vital because a tournament of this size isn’t cheap. Even if it doesn’t look like we will have the money to cover gas, entry fees, equipment, food, drinks, and everything else, we enter the tournament anyway, believing that God will provide a way.

People are so moved by what they see and hear from our youth that they can’t help but feel burdened to help in some way. Our U16 team made it to the final but lost to penalty kicks after fighting through a full match and two overtime periods. The parents of the opposing team clapped for and then hugged all of our players as we walked off the field. It was amazing to witness. These people, these strangers, see something in us, and they are drawn to it.

Out of our five teams, the U14’s won the final and were able to bring home a trophy. This was our U16’s team first time playing together, and they almost knocked off the number one team in the tournament. These boys aren’t just learning about winning and losing in soccer. The lessons they learn will carry over into their lives as they continue to become men.

As all of us at One7 will tell you, it isn’t anything we are doing. God is using this ministry in ways we could never have imagined. We follow God and trust that He will always have our back. We would like to give huge THANK YOU to everyone who came out to the various games to support our teams. That means more than you will ever know. Also, a special thank you to anyone who has ever donated money, time, or prayer to One7. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.

We will leave you with some pictures from this weekend’s tournament. Hope you enjoy.

 

Make sure to follow One7 on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day.

Thank You

This blog post is a thank you to everyone who supports One7 Ministries. Support can come in many different forms. Money. Prayer. Volunteering. Mentoring. All of these have one common thread that intricately weaves them together. Love. Without love, we are nothing. We can help a million people, but if we don’t have love, it’s a waste of time. (I Corinthians 13)

We just wanted you to see some of the things you’re supporting here at One7. For those who donate financially, you are paying the rent for over 30 homeless children we have living at the One7 apartments. These kids all have different stories, but they ended up at our doorstep, and we took them in as our own. They all live with staff members who engage with them through daily prayer and devotion time.

Your generous giving also provides One7 the opportunity to feed these kids more than just the one meal a day they usually receive while attending school. We are able not only to serve one main meal each night for dinner, but we are also able to feed them right when they get off the bus at One7 before starting after school activities, and in the morning when they wake up.

You are also giving these youth, some who normally wouldn’t have it, a chance to play soccer and learn about being a team and moving forward in unity. We have several different soccer teams consisting of all ages. We seek to utilize these teams as a way to train up leaders who can then go into their own communities and become an influence for positive change. We also use the game to bridge the gap that exists with racial barriers. By intentionally building diverse teams, it forces players to work together with people from different nationalities.

The One7 soccer program can also be utilized as a tool for discipleship, and we are taking full advantage of that fact. Being part of an athletic team is a unique experience, and we use our program to draw kids into an environment that honors Jesus first, above everything else. After each game, one of our captains shares his or her personal testimony with the other team.

We have people that come out every week and volunteer their time to invest in the youth at One7. That is vital in our mission to disciple these kids and help them learn more about Christ. Our after school program has been a huge success since we started it last year. We had students who were failing most of their classes, but are now making A’s and B’s. It’s been a huge blessing for us to have volunteers to not only help them with their academic work, but to also take the time to form friendships.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Without your love and support, we would not be able to continue this amazing ministry God has so graciously blessed. Visit our website at One7,org to find out more about what we do.

To find out ways you can volunteer, check out our Connect page.

If you would like to sign up for monthly donations, or a one time gift, visit our Donate page.

 

Make sure to follow One7 on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day.

Navy Seal Training, Soccer, and Giving God the Glory

One7 Ministries isn’t normal.

Now we could end the blog post right here, and there would be many people nodding their heads in agreement. Let’s define our definition of normal. Work 9-5, Monday through Friday, and then take off the weekend. Yeah…One7 is most certainly not normal. This is a 24/7, 365 kind of ministry. God continues to bring the broken and hurting to our doorstep, and we will do whatever it takes to help them.

This past weekend was full of activities. Our One7 team from Johnson City came into town and brought the biggest group yet. Their limitations were put to the test with some Navy Seal training. We’re not talking about a few push ups and a jumping jack or two. This is some serious, hard-core training. Running a mile with a ladder raised above their heads, 200 sit ups while holding the same ladder and being sprayed with water, lifting, moving, climbing over/under railroad ties, and several more events. These activities not only teach vital team work, they also push each individual to their breaking point. They fight through the fatigue and pain to eventually finish the course.

 

We also had a total of five soccer games this weekend. The purpose of the One7 soccer program is to provide kids, who have little or no resources, a chance to compete at a high level. We seek to utilize these teams as a way to train up leaders who can then go into their own communities and become an influence for positive change. We also use the game to bridge the gap that exists with racial barriers. By intentionally building diverse teams, it forces players to work together with people from different nationalities.

The One7 soccer program can also be utilized as a tool for discipleship, and we are taking full advantage of that fact. Being part of an athletic team is a unique experience, and we use our program to draw kids into an environment that honors Jesus first, above everything else. After each game, one of our captains shares his or her personal testimony with the other team. One of the leagues we play in is Strikers. They offer competitive play and also recreational. It’s 5 vs 5 and is usually very fast paced since we play on smaller fields with walls. We lost on Saturday, but shared and prayed with the opposing team afterwards.

 

In everything we do at One7, our most important goal is to glorify God. Win or lose on the soccer field, we are out there to represent His name. If we take kids to eat dollar menu at McDonald’s, we glorify God. No matter what it is, from the biggest down to the smallest activity, we are constantly praising the One who continues to bless this ministry. We are nothing without Jesucristo.

If you feel led to support One7 in any way, please click Here.

Make sure to follow One7 on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day.

Praise You in This Storm

As Christians, it’s so easy for us to praise God when things are going great. We thank Him for our many blessings, another day of life, and for those wonderful people He destines to cross our path. During those times, we trust our Heavenly Father more than ever. We feel safe and confident that we’re doing His will. It’s like sitting in front of a crackling fire in the middle of winter with a big cup of hot chocolate. There’s no other place we’d rather be.

But what about when that warm, cozy fire dies out? What happens when the storms of life begin to blow, and our peaceful world gets torn into shreds? In Mark 13:13, Jesus said we would be hated because of Him. There is a cost that comes along with following Christ. Paul talked about all the times he went hungry, was shipwrecked, beaten, left for dead, constantly in danger, and often went without sleep. (2 Corinthians 11:16-33)

We aren’t promised a life of comfort, fun, or undying happiness. At some point or another, hard times are going to come. A young mother grieving over the loss of a stillborn baby. A wife, with tear stains on her face, watching her husband walk out on her and the children. A family losing a son or daughter to war. A car accident that takes the lives of the parents, rendering five children orphans. The list goes on and on. These are events that can cause unbelievable pain and suffering.

Praising God through the hard times takes unshakable faith. Faith that He has everything under control and knows what’s best for our lives. The month of September was very difficult for One7. Spiritually, emotionally, and financially. Satan constantly bombards us with attacks in order to weaken the ministry and attempt to destroy what God is doing.

Here is a Facebook post last week from David, the founder and president of One7 Ministries.

“As many of you know several trials hit us this past week. We were totally helpless and used the last bit of money we had today to fill the vans up with gas @ one7. We didn’t want to cancel one7 because of money. In faith we filled the vans with all we had. 
God blessed us with a $4,000 unexpected gift that will help us with food, gas, and our bills for the next two weeks. God provides a way if we trust him to the end. A huge thank you to the family in Tennessee that God used to meet our needs tonight. Amazing!”

We knew that if we continued to praise God through the rough time we were experiencing, He would bless that, And, just as we had anticipated, He came through in a huge way by using the family from TN. Never stop praising our miraculous God. Even when all hope is lost. Even if it seems like the darkness is overpowering the light. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even if the pain is so strong you don’t feel that you can bear it. God is always there. Always.

 

Make sure to follow One7 on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day.