Unannounced Miracles from Unexpected Hands

Apr 19, 2021 | Sports Friends Africa, Sports Friends Nigeria

We responded to COVID-19 by identifying the needs of coaches, players and their families, knowing that we work in a context of poverty… Many people are hungry. There is no food.”

-Ishaya, Sports Friends Nigeria team leader

Ishaya, Moses, and Icy, Sports Friends Nigeria team members, shared what it has been like since COVID-19 struck Nigeria. They closed the office and suspended team gatherings in accordance with government mandates issued to slow down the spread of COVID-19. While they were intentional to demonstrate for their young team members their own submission to authority, they prayed about what they should do.

The leaders cried out to God and also to Sports Friends leadership to make the needs of their people known. Ministering to families and mentoring young people through sports is a highly valuable form of loving vulnerable neighbors in Jesus’ name… but now their neighbors just needed food.

Sports Friends’ supporters responded and sent funds through the Caring for Coaches and Communities campaign. The team quickly bought food, salt, soap, and masks, and put together aid packages. They sent out texts to encourage as many of their coaches as they could and found out which people needed food. Ishaya praised the hard work of his colleague, Icy, who was the main aid distributor. We acquired an old van and refurbished it; Icy traveled everywhere to see that the support packs were properly distributed.”

Icy responded, “Thank God for the opportunity. It is really a huge ministry… People were expecting the government to do this [aid distribution]. They didn’t expect it from anyone else. Sports Friends has shared over four times the amount of food that the government has given the people. In one state we went to, the local religious leader came and asked if this was a government aid program. We told him we were a sports ministry, a segment of the church, and we were there to show love. He was deeply impacted. Many others testified that this was a direct answer to prayer.”

They told many stories of encouragement surrounding the distributions:

One coach who has served with Sports Friends for many years called Icy to say thank you. “Last night I prayed and asked God to send help to me. Today I received exactly what I needed; it was exactly what I asked God to send me. Thank you.”

There was another young man who had coached with Sports Friends and is now in seminary, training to be a pastor. Over the past two days he’d eaten only one meal. He was trusting God that something would come to him that day. Otherwise, he planned to just drink water and go to sleep that night. Icy and his team had got his number and called him, unannounced. “When we met him with a large package of food and supplies, he burst into tears, crying out in joy for the gift.”

One woman received a pack of supplies for her family. She had come to say how thankful she was. She had been to the church but could not receive any help. She had no food and did not know how she would feed her family that day, when Icy’s team arrived at her house and delivered rice, soup, salt, and more. She was so grateful.

Another man they delivered a package to also wept with relief and gratitude. Two days prior his neighbor had got an aid package, and he had requested food as well. None came to him. Then Sports Friends brought supplies to his door. He was moved to tears. Icy and his team were touched to see a family man so moved because of food.

Ishaya reports, “When we do our sports ministry Basic Training, part of it is analyzing the context of our ministry. We live in a context of poverty, unemployment, and addiction. We ask: who is responsible to solve this problem? Some say it is the government’s job, but we zero in on the fact that is it our responsibility to solve the problems. It is OUR job to bring good news to the poor. What is theoretical in some places is very practical in our reality. In the West they have food banks, stipends, government support. Here, nobody does that… We see people crying over a gift they never expected. It is [powerful] to have these people in our hearts, and to be able to meet their practical needs. We thank God for this opportunity.”

Thank you for your support that has literally fed the hungry and brought hope into situations of true despair. Jesus is still feeding thousands through all that we bring to Him.

You can make a gift at sports-friends.org/give. Hunger, poverty, and COVID aren’t quitting anytime soon, and neither are we.