football

Myanmar Trip Report

A Quick Recap

We had a wonderful week in Myanmar as a part of our last trip, filled with Reading Room learnings, football/soccer playing and much more!

  • Strategic friendships were formed in the Reading Room training we offered. Dennis Owens instructed and encouraged parents and educators. The founder of a well-known private academy was with us, along with many lovely mothers, babies and grandmas.

  • A beautiful spirit of fellowship surrounded the four days of football competition and evening outreaches. The local team, under Pastor David's mentoring, has become skilled at creating a warm and joyful atmosphere which keeps the athletes engaged.

  • On the closing night, Pastor David introduced Jesus and His love for all people, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, every one of us. You could have heard a pin drop in the hall as David shared for about 20 minutes. Many teams came as groups to receive the written and recorded versions of the Book which tells of the love of Jesus. I had a profound sense of being in the middle of a miracle. This is a result of your prayers.


Get the recap on the Vietnam part of the trip here.

Some photos from Myanmar

Pho Chan’s Story: Growing in Love & Grace

IMG_6247.PNG

Several years ago, we told the story of Pho Chan’s conversion when Pastor David shared about the love of Jesus to teens. His family beat him on his back with bamboo rods until the blood flowed. He was disowned for following Jesus Christ. Pastor David opened his home and taught Pho Chan the life of following Jesus Christ by making him part of their family. He learned a trade, participated in family devotions and grew in connection and service at the local church.

Today Pho Chan is strong in his faith. He married a passionate, lovely believer whose English name is Ruth. She leads worship and prayer at the church. God has blessed them with a beautiful son. Besides driving a taxi (converted 3-wheeler motorbike), Pho Chan is a vital part of the Glory soccer team. He also serves as a coach of the Eagles team, which is an outreach boys team targeting poor neighborhoods. His family is warming to his faith as they see him as a loving and successful man, husband, father and son.  

It is gratifying to return year after year and see the growth within members of this beloved fellowship. This is the fruit of love and New Testament discipleship. How beautiful is the Body of Christ!

Thank you for your prayers for continuing growth among new believers in Myanmar.

It's All About the Kids

In Psalm 71, verse 18, David prays, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, til I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

The message of God’s great love through Jesus Christ must be shared and nurtured among each new generation for our faith to be passed on in the earth. Jim and I feel this personally as we embrace our four grandchildren with our arms and with our prayers. It’s not enough that Papa and Mimi follow Jesus. These little ones must have their own encounters with Jesus as they learn of His love for them from their parents and grandparents and others.  

Firefall Challenge Cup #5

As we continue our work in Myanmar and Vietnam this spring, the youth are our focus. Pastor Dennis Owens of Pine Bluff will partner with Firefall as we anticipate a harvest of souls during the Firefall Challenge Cup #5 in late March. Eight teams from all over the nation will gather for four days of matches, fellowship, laughter, singing and hearing about the love of God demonstrated by Jesus Christ for them.

See photos from past Challenge Cups:

Evangelistic Bibles will be offered, meals will be served and regional Christian coaches will be strengthened in their faith by their mentor, Pastor David. Many of these coaches shine the light of God’s love through sport in villages where there are only a handful of believers, if any. Pastor David senses many are ready this year to make the bold and costly commitment to fully surrender their lives to Jesus Christ.

After the football challenge, we fly to Vietnam to train children’s workers in a conference. They will come from many provinces in the nation. Minh and Blessing have extended a gracious and humbling invitation. After the equipping conference, these young leaders will spend May through September traveling in teams throughout the land, taking the good news to children who have never known about God’s love for them. What a privilege to share with these passionate and gifted young leaders! They are asking God for thousands of children to receive Christ during this time.

We are excited about the upcoming opportunities. Tickets have been purchased, itineraries have been planned.

Firefall partner, would you join us in prayer and sponsorship?

The expenses of this trip will be met with 140 sponsorships of $65. Please prayerfully consider funding 1,2,5 or even 10 football players or attendees of the children’s conference. Every gift helps and 100% goes to support this special event.

fullsizeoutput_860.jpeg

You helped us reach our goal!

Doors are open for the gospel to transform lives. We are blessed with trusted partners in these nations. Your prayers and giving are needed ingredients for this vision to become reality, for the youth of Myanmar and Vietnam to take the torch of faith to their villages and on to the next generation who will believe. Thank you for praying and for obeying.   

Firefall Football Challenge Cup #4 Recap: Fun & Fruitful

During our last meal together in Myanmar, the Spanish team and I debriefed the mission. Dan Fernandez of Athletes in Action Spain has led the team each of the four years, plus leading training last November for the coaches in Myanmar. He marveled at the ways God worked in our midst. A near palpable peace and joy surrounded all of us during the matches (8 each day). In the evenings, all players gathered for awards (Man of the Match trophies and shirts), silly songs, laughter and a marked increase in hunger to hear spiritual truth through music, testimony and short preaching by Pastor David.

We enjoyed four days of exciting matches

We enjoyed four days of exciting matches

On Good Friday evening, our last night together, Pastor David shared that this was an important day to Christians. He went on to say he was usually with his own church preaching about what happened to Jesus on this day. Did they want him to tell them what happened to Jesus on this day? There was a resounding "yes" from the 150 young men there.

Pastor David, a masterful MC for our evening activities

Pastor David, a masterful MC for our evening activities

David shared for about 15 minutes about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. You could have heard a pin drop. I prayed silently, knowing these words of truth were entering hearts all over the room with power. We had set up a table with many copies of the Evangelistic Burmese Bible and Jesus Film DVDs. They were invited to pick up a Bible or Jesus Film as we closed the evening if they had a interest, no pressure. Many moved quickly to take these items. It was holy ground.

Fellowship shared during football matches brought down barriers, connected towns and villages and ushered in an atmosphere where Pastor David sowed seeds of eternal life into hungry hearts. God's Word will not return void. It will produce a harvest!

Thank you for praying for us and for giving sacrificially to sponsor players for the challenge cup. The local coaches will continue to follow up and share the love of Jesus throughout the year. What a privilege to have a small part in what God is doing to bring people to Himself in Myanmar through sport. Thank you, Firefall partners!

The victors!

The victors!


Eagles Team: physical, relational & spiritual hunger met

Some of the Eagles pose with Spanish team and Pastor David

Some of the Eagles pose with Spanish team and Pastor David

We had six training sessions and two meals with the Eagles Boys Team while in Myanmar. As I watched the Spaniards interact with the boys from poor Buddhist and Muslim homes, I could not tell who was enjoying the time more…the Spanish team, I think! These athletes are masterful at using football to demonstrate physical affection, teach boundaries, respect and discipline, impart character traits and just show these little boys they are worthy of time and attention because they are created and loved by God. By the end of the first training session, they had given nicknames to each player which stuck with them throughout the week, to their delight.

After training, the boys listen intently to their sport heroes

After training, the boys listen intently to their sport heroes

Eagles enjoying noodles and affection

Eagles enjoying noodles and affection

Pastor David invited the boys to attend all aspects of the football challenge, even the night meetings. They sang, laughed and soaked in words of life that were shared. We saw many of them leave with a Bible clutched in their hands to take home. There will be follow-up for them during their weekly meetings with the House of Glory coaches.

As we said our goodbyes after the last noodle shop meal together, there were tears wiped away from the eyes of both the Eagles boys and the Spanish team. The bonds of love formed on a mission like this are unforgettable and life-changing. Thank you for making this time possible through your love, prayers and giving. I pray these boys will always remember the demonstrated love of Jesus they tasted during these very wonderful days we had together.

coming soon

Check back over the next few weeks (we'll email subscribers, too) to read more about our Reading Room updates and how God is expanding its influence in the community. Also, what came of Nancy's lunch with visionary women leaders.

Firefall Challenge Cup #4: March 28-31

We are so excited to announce our 4th Firefall Football Challenge Cup at the end of March. In honor of this announcement, we asked Pastor David, who leads the outreach, a few questions about the program.

Insights from Pastor David

What results and benefits have you witnessed from the past three years of Firefall Challenge Cup outreaches?

Through launching our vision of Firefall Challenge Cup four years ago, we have been able to touch many young footballers by playing together and sharing the good news. We have seen footballers come to Jesus and accept Him as their personal Savior and Lord after they listen to the good news at the outreach. We could see many young footballers' lives are transformed in different cities now. We are still following up with some footballers among those actually interested in Jesus after hearing about Him at the Firefall Challenge Cup!

When we Christians offer this kind of outreach, non-believers see us in a positive way as they realize we are not separated from them, but we are with them by playing together.

You began to mentor 15 sport leaders in your nation last year. What is your strategy in doing this?

Through mentoring sport leaders in our nation, my dream is to touch more young footballers in every city in Myanmar for sharing the good news as networking and equipping events are offered for coaches. Then we would see the great transforming in the lives of these young people, our new generation!

How can Firefall partners stand with you for Firefall Challenge #4?

We look to Firefall for partnership in prayer, provision and mentoring. Thank you for helping the team from Spain to come! Please help us as much as you can to continue our football outreach through Firefall Challenge Cup #4 as we are praying and preparing to touch young footballers by playing together and sharing Jesus effectively. If we include the Eagles Youth team, this time together will reach over 150 players.


Miraculous Conversion through Firefall Football Cup

New disciple of Jesus, Pastor David and Glory Coach Jack

New disciple of Jesus, Pastor David and Glory Coach Jack

My name is Hein Soe Lat. I was raised in a very strong Muslim home. Though I heard about Jesus since my childhood, I knew Him as just a prophet. I was not interested in any other religions or beliefs, since my parents strictly guided me in Islamic teachings. I graduated from the Law University and started a boarding school as my vocation.

I have been crazy for football since elementary school. My favourite team is Arsenal FC in English Premier League. I play every day until today. I am 30 years old now.

In 2016, I got the opportunity to participate at the Second Firefall Challenge Cup in our hometown as a player on the Glory Football Team. I played in the daytime and I heard about Jesus in different ways at the night time. Though I was not interested in that on the first night, I decided I would actually like to taste Jesus in my own life after I heard about His resurrection and eternal life! Then, I started to read the Burmese Evangelistic Bible offered me on the last night of the tournament.

I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord as Pastor David explained more to me about Jesus. Now, I follow only Jesus as a good disciple. I share about Jesus as much as I can to some of my friends and those who are playing football.

Thank you, Firefall Partners!

How Can You "Join the Team"?

When we divide all Firefall expenses among the 150 football players who will be impacted, the cost is $65 per playerWould you prayerfully consider sponsoring 1 for $65, 3 for $195, 5 for $325, 10 for $650 or even 20 for $1,300? 100% of your gift will go to this creative evangelistic outreach.

Update: We reached our goal!

soccer-ball_final.png

Thank you for supporting this outreach program!

We can't sponsor this event without you, so we appreciate your support and look forward to the difference it will make in these players' lives.

Month of Harvest: Football Ministry

Myanmar - USA - Spain

Working together for eternal victory! 

Glory Football Club - 2017 National Amateur Champions

Glory Football Club - 2017 National Amateur Champions

Four years ago, Dan Fernandez and others from Athletes in Action Spain joined Firefall International in a partnership with Pastor David to demonstrate the love of Jesus through sport, namely football (soccer to us in the USA). Prior to this time, David was discouraged in his efforts to share the gospel with those who had no reference for Jesus Christ at all. Traditional methods of witnessing or handing out tracts were having no effect. In desperation, he cried out to the Lord. As he prayed, he heard a challenge to use something he was passionate about to build a bridge of relationship for heartfelt conversation in the future.

Hear what the football ministry has meant to Dan:

For David, this "passion" was simple…football! He began by coaching young men in his town with an interest in football. At times, the number was up to 90, coming from Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu backgrounds. Of these, 14 have already received Jesus Christ as Lord. Many more are coming to David with spiritual hunger and questions. 

Please pray with us in this season of harvest. Dan and players from Spain will return to Myanmar in late March 2018 for Firefall Challenge #4. This is four days of football matches and evenings of laughter, music and testimony from athletes about the love of Jesus.

In the past four years, Glory Football Club has won 14 trophies, becoming the amateur champions of the township (2015), region (2016) and just last week, the entire nation! The players realize they are not as good as many other teams and should not be winning. They remark that they feel an unusual power or strength with them as they play. David is more than happy to explain Who this power is! He wisely waits until they have a comment or question before sharing.

Local citizens celebrate Glory footballers

Local citizens celebrate Glory footballers

The benefits of the football team have been many. Parents thank David for offering an activity to keep their children off the streets, away from drugs and constant internet gaming. Some of these parents formerly looked down on David as an outsider, but now they are friendly. Community leaders and authorities who once persecuted David for this faith are now thanking him for his coaching leadership and welcoming the team with flowers and trophies at citywide parades. 

In addition, the Eagles team for young boys was formed as an outreach two years ago. The members are 8-16 years old and from a very poor neighborhood. 

Eagles Team with Spanish Athletes

Eagles Team with Spanish Athletes

They practice on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, learning the basics of football, having snacks and exposure to concepts of respect, diligence and good sportsmanship in an atmosphere of fun and encouragement. Firefall assists with funds for equipment and nutrition for the practices. 

In early December, Dan and his wife from Spain will join Jim and Nancy in Myanmar to train 15 Christian athletes selected by Pastor David to replicate this type of sport outreach throughout the nation. With your financial and prayer support, we can continue to invest in creative strategies to lift the community and share about God's love through Jesus Christ to hungry hearts.

 

Giving Update: We Need Your Help

monthofharvest-38.png

Great news! We are now at 38% of our goal of $50,000 for October, Month of Harvest!

Only one week to go! Please prayerfully consider your investment in the work of Firefall International. If you would like to "join the team" and help us continue the Firefall football ministry, use the button below to give (and notate it is for the Month of Harvest).

"Don't you have a saying,'It's still four months until harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." John 4:35

Prayer Points:

  1. Continued spiritual hunger and open hearts among football players
  2. That new converts become grounded disciples who make more disciples
  3. That the December Training of the 15 leaders will be multiplied across the nation.

Team Reflections

A few weeks ago, Nancy and the team returned from their trip to Myanmar for the Firefall Challenge Cup #3!

It was a fantastic trip with new relationships formed, personal growth and lots of fun football (soccer) playing. 

We want you to hear directly from the Spanish soccer players about how the trip impacted them. Make sure you're signed up for our email newsletter to get the full trip report next week!

soccer players
To serve in such a different reality has made me think about my service and commitment in my daily life.
It is an honor for us to help you and the Firefall ministry.
All my trips to Myanmar change parts of my life. It was really a blessing to me to bring a Spanish group with me. This makes me feel really happy, and is worth all the time invested in this project. 
It's been a challenge for me, and I think that it was the first trip of thousands.

It’s changed the way I see things, and it gave me another point of view to understand God and the different ways of sharing his word.