Soccer – a Holy Sport?
Soccer is popular in Algeria and now to Christians soccer is a reminder of God’s sovereign grace. It is the Lord God who saves. Acts 2:47 says,
“And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” In recent history, God has added many Muslim background Algerians who have been saved by faith from their sins to inherit eternal life in Christ Jesus. Interestingly, soccer is an instrument God used in Algeria.
Before 1980, there were no Christians for 1200 years in Algeria. Saint Augustine and others were from this region of Africa, but by the 900s Islam wiped out Christianity. In 1981, a group of amateur soccer players from Switzerland vacationed to the Kabylie region, Algeria. The Swiss asked if their local soccer team wanted to play in a scrimmage. The team agreed but said their best player was really sick and asked if the Swiss had any medicine. The Swiss did not have medicine but offered to pray. When the Swiss prayed for the Algerian player, they asked that “our Father in heaven” heal him. The player was instantly healed. The rest of the Algerian soccer team was amazed and intrigued. “Who is this Father you pray to and how does he heal?” they asked. In the Qur’an there is no title of “Father” for Allah, so their curiosity caused them to further question what the Swiss were talking about. The Swiss explained to them the gospel. All 11 soccer players received faith in Christ and right away told others about their experience. The Algerian soccer players began to pray for the physical needs of others and many were healed. This event began the modern-day revival in Algeria which has grown to over 100,000 Christians in the past 26 years. The truly amazing miracle about all of this is that these men and women had no knowledge of Christ. It was two years later in 1987 that the first French Bible and then Arabic Bible were given to these new believers. This year marks the completion of the first Berber Bible in history (which is their native language.)
However, this enormous growth did not come without persecution. One of the soccer players tried to share his new faith with his family and they did not want to hear it. They beat him and his life was threatened. For 7 years, he was on the move until 1992 when his family asked him to come back to the village. The risk of visiting his home village was very high; but God had other plans for him. The village elders grilled him about his Christian faith. The wisdom of his answers impressed the elders and after their discussion the elders simply walked away. In due time, his family came to faith in Christ.
God is adding Muslims to faith in Christ like never before in history. God invites us to have a part of this work with prayers and a bold witness of faith. Every Muslim background believer is a persecuted believer. If the Algerian believers can be bold in their faith, we encourage you to be bold in your prayers and faith here in America. In these last two weeks of our Algerian Freedom campaign, we ask you to persevere in prayer and this week to share the situation of Christians in Algeria with one other person.
Monday: Pray for Algerian Christians to continue to boldly share their testimonies of revival.
Tuesday: Pray for Algerians to find freedom and peace in Jesus Christ alone.
Wednesday: Pray for the leaders of Algeria to seek a true understanding of the Christian faith.
Thursday: Pray for Spirit of Martyrdom ministries, that we serve the witnesses of Algeria effectively.
Friday and Weekend: Pray for us Christians in America to grow in our courage and faith as we serve our brothers and sisters in Algeria.
Verse of the Week: Acts 2:36-47 – “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Look for an opportunity to share the history and current situation with Christians in Algeria with one other person this week. (Maybe this will be a real banner week and you can find two people. )