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Common Language

"When you plug into the community and start speaking their language - with the vision of allowing God to work in their lives - the Holy Spirit will do the rest." This is Pastor Kennedy Salano, Director of Sports Evangelism for Assemblies of God Church in Nairobi, and a big football fan.

Five years ago, the leadership of Pastor Solano's church wanted to engage young people and reach out to them through football.

"We realised many years ago that the only language that these young people understand is the language of sport," says Pastor Salano. The church community was hesitant.

"It was the first time that as a community and as a church we were engaging in sport," says Pastor Salano. "I told them, 'On Saturday, we are going to meet, we are going to connect with the community, and play sports.' And amazingly, on that Saturday, people cam our, in their hundreds.

"Some of the young people we were meeting got connected with the church. We have seen God doing tremendous things and lives being changed."

Nurturing and Mentoring

The driving force for reaching out to young people is to share the good news of Jesus with them, but the impact of the ministry touches their whole lives, identifying and nurturing their takents. "We've seen some of these young people change for the national team and some have got sponsorship to study aroad," says Pastor Salano. "We are so amazed by what God can go and how we can encourage thse young people through the talent of sports."

Anthony plays for Nairobi Water FC, in the second division. He's also a coach, and he serves with the the teenagers' ministry and the worship team in church.

Anthony's journey with God started in 2010. "I had so many frustrations in life: being a football player, at the same time a father, it became hard. In 2010, I reached a point where I wanted to have purpose in life, to receive Jesus, and since then it has been both a tough but a wonderful journey in Jesus, with him enabling me to become the person that he wants me to become.

"Before I received Jesus as my Saviour, I used to play for myself. I used to be selfish. I used to look up to the likes of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, they were my role models. When I received Jesus, my role model changed - Jesus became my role model. Not just my role model, but my Saviour.

"My life changed from being a selfish person to becoming a person who loves other people, who wants other people to become better and change their lives. The people I used to play football with, when they see me now, they see a lot of changes, a significant change. I'm now doing everything for Christ and for his glory."

Discipleship and Evangelism

Lifewords is an important part of the football ministry, providing resources to help share good news and to disciple young people. The resources, including An InvitationDaily Strength, and Inspiring Prayer (now Little Book of Prayer), offer a way for Pastor Salano and his team to pray with the young people, encouragement them, and give them something that they can take home to study and read.

On one occasion, the team form the church held a sports tournament for over 500 young people where they were able to share the gospel with individuals from the Rendille people group, one of the least-reache people groups in Kenya.

"We used the tournament as a platform to reach out to them with the gospel of Jesus Christ," says Pastor Salano, "We believe that the seed that we planted, of reaching out to them through sport, using the materials that we were given by Lifewords will be ble to enlarge and expand them spirituality."

Join with us in prayer:

  • Give thanks for Pastor Salano and his ministry to young people.
  • Praise God for how lives have been touched and transformed.
  • Pray for the young people - that they would find a purpose, hope, and community.

Watch our video with Pastor Salano on Lifewords YouTube channel.

Image credits: Lucy Favier

Full Article featured in Interact.

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