Harris Family August 2023 Update

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

Proverbs 14:34
Gathering cones on the school field.

It has been two years since we started Yalwak Manyen (New Generation) Sports Academy, an after-school soccer outreach for kids in Adak village, where we used to live. What sprang up as a way to give kids the gospel, structure, and an outlet for energy continues to influence and impact families in the community.

A few boys from the League.

We began this soccer ministry during the lockdowns when children of all ages were kept from school, the primary source of structure and discipline in their lives. The youth were becoming more restless and unruly, even to the point where young boys in our village were setting up roadblocks to stop motorcyclists to beat and rob them. God gave us the vision to start this soccer outreach, which almost immediately affected our community. Kids used to rush away from home to get into mischief with their friends; instead, they would stick around to fetch water, sweep the compound, or help dig in the garden. They used to come home whenever they pleased; now, they go home when their mothers asked. They had no outlet for energy and were becoming a nuisance to the whole community, but now they were becoming an honor to their families. But what was more instrumental in this change was hearing the gospel preached to them. They brought it home to their families, and people began to have hope again.

A few girls from the League. Our daughter Cynthia is in the back, third from the right, looking down.

Now, after two years, the method hasn’t changed much. Coaches Kizito and Kenneth arrive to a horde of waiting children. They open the storage room door, and the kids quickly carry the box of uniforms, a sack of soccer balls, and stacks of cones out onto the field. They do warm-ups and exercise, practice different moves and techniques, and play mini-soccer matches, resulting in characteristic loud cheers when someone gets a goal. Then, Coach blows the whistle, and the kids swarm the field, competing to gather the cones and gear and huddle together to finish their time with devotions. Coach Kizito presents a Bible story, explains it, and asks questions. They memorize and review Bible verses and then pray together, heading home just as the evening sun begins to cast shades of gold on the grasses and trees.

Some football kids and some family members who turned to the Lord.

We’ve seen many times how the child begins acting differently at home; the family is intrigued by this change and begins attending church. Over time, the whole family is changed, and even the fathers begin to taper off their drinking habits and take care of their families. The entire community notices this change, and it is a beautiful testimony to God’s love and ability to redeem. It’s hard to say exactly what things are a result of the soccer outreach or how far-reaching the message has been since only God can see the hearts. Between the soccer kids themselves and the coaches checking up on the families of each child and sharing the gospel during visits, we have some idea of the numbers. It has been reported that among 50 families whose children have participated in the football outreach over the two years, about 150 adults and children have either rededicated their lives to the Lord or have been saved for the first time. Out of the 56 children in the Little’s League, at least 50 profess to know Christ, and in the Youth League (ages 16-25), 6 out of the 14 have been saved.

Football kids and some of their family members who turned to the Lord.

We have hopes to further the stability of this program. By God’s grace, we were able to purchase five acres of land in the community, flatten it, and propagate grass for regulation-size soccer fields. We were also able to build a grass-roofed house for our head coach and his family to stay in while they maintain the property. We aim to develop the land further by creating a latrine, changing rooms, and a roofed area for shade and protection from the rain. We want to keep a good supply of equipment on hand, such as balls, cones, uniforms, and shoes. Most importantly, we hope to restart our Youth League, which had to be canceled due to a lack of equipment.

Still more who turned to the Lord.

Praise God with us that:

  • God has been moving through Yalwak Manyen in our community.
  • Many souls have been added in our village.

Please join us in prayer that:

  • God would raise a generation of strong believers in Adak Village.
  • God would provide $500.00 a month to support this outreach.
  • God would keep our coaches and their families healthy and strong for the work He has for them.

In Christ,

Matt & Noelle & Family
Coach Kenneth marrying the cousin of Coach Kizito.