The hope is that my visit last week to Lisbon, Portugal will become a marker in my life that I am able to reflect back on as a changing point in my life. We all have those moments in life that take place and at the time, seem life changing and we intend to change after or build on the experience. I have had such moments and purposed to build on them, only to have the momentum fade and allow the experience to just become a nice memory.
As I went into the week I had no real expectations other than normal happenings of any mission trip. I knew we would be teaching American Football to a culture where soccer and basketball are the primary sports people enjoy. I knew I would enjoy the challenge of teaching and coaching this new game to kids of various ages. As part of the International Sports Federation, our role is to partner with local churches and share with those kids and their families about the church.
Pastor Rui Leão Ribeiro and Alta Christa Church were our sponsor for this 2nd annual football camp. Pastor Rui and the entire church family of Alta Christa have just an incredible heart for the people and community. Their hospitality and care given to us will be something I’ll never forget. Pastor Rui works tirelessly to bring the good news of Christ to everyone he meets.
As with any mission trip, there is usually opportunities to begin the process of developing relationships. Over the years I have been fortunate to develop relationships that continue to this day. For John Kelso, this was his 10th trip to Lisbon and likewise, he has developed many friendships over the years. He told us that we would probably have the opportunity to meet several of his Portuguese friends and start building our own friendships with them.
So with the expectations set, we embarked on our journey to Lisbon, to teach American Football and hopefully have the opportunity to share the good news of Christ and let people know about the local church of Alta Christa. Our team consisted of John, Scott Wilkins, Jackson Crate and myself. Scott was making his second trip to Lisbon. He couldn’t wait to get back and continue the work he had started the previous year.
I’ve know John for 45 years or so and although we haven’t been really close friends, we have remained friends over the years. John has true love for all people and especially the Portuguese people. The connections he has our deep as they recognize the sincerity and genuine heart he has for them.
Scott is a Middle School coach at Etowah. Just a great dude in every sense and like John, he just as a heart for people. Obviously we connected easily on a football level and as the week unfolded, we became fast friends. He loves Jesus, his wife and family. Additionally, like me, he has a passion for teaching and coaching while always leading young people to a greater walk with Christ.
Jackson is young man of 21 years. He too also has a huge heart for people and with his easy, laid back style connects easily with people of all ages. He is also quite the athlete as he proved himself in our Friday, 7 on 7 games. A quiet nature about him but he leads by example and not just talking. He was able to connect with the young people on a whole different level than us old men. I look forward to working all of these men in the future on other trips.
So the stage is set and tomorrow I will start sharing more details about the specifics of the trip and introduce you to some incredible people I am now blessed to call my friends. One in particular, I have adopted as my Portuguese daughter. I can’t wait to share. See you tomorrow!
Peace and thanks for reading!