Jesus Rather Than Voodoo
Earlier this year, Matthew Hulst and some men from Coram Deo went to Haiti on a mission trip. They requested some soccer gear to take with them, probably with no idea what it would mean or what it would lead to. Matthew shares the following report with Soccer Chaplains United, evidence of the work of God, in the country of Haiti, and in the lives of His children there. Please take time to also watch the video at the bottom. Read on,
Planting Seeds for a pro-level Christian soccer club
Five friends and I set out on a trip to Cap-Haiti (Northern part of Haiti) with dreams of seeing the Lord move through a two-week soccer tournament. Although there were reports of rioting throughout Haiti and our government putting out warnings for travel, we still felt led to go, thank the Lord we did. During our two-week stint, we saw 20 young men (ages 18-35) give their lives to Jesus and 60 more commit to long term discipleship programs with the local Haitian team we were working with. Through a donation of uniforms and equipment from Soccer Chaplains United, we were able to provide the resources needed to run a high-level tournament and pour “gas on the fire” of a God-given calling of launching a new Christian pro-level soccer club. This club will be created and led by one of our new Haitian friends named Renaldo. The uniforms and equipment that were donated to Renaldo confirmed his calling from the Lord to start this new soccer club. The dream of this club is not just good soccer but rather to use soccer as a vehicle to transform and disciple young men who would otherwise not encounter Jesus and raise up future Haitian leaders who will put an end to the corruption that is the current reality in the country.
Renaldo is a pro-level soccer player who, a few years ago, was moving up the ranks in the Haitian soccer circuit. During this process, he came to a fork in the road with the question of what was most important to him: soccer or Jesus. He was presented with the opportunity to be in line for the Haitian national team, but he realized there was an unspoken requirement. To be on the team meant he would have to practice voodoo. Many Haitians believe that to be Haitian is “to be voodoo.” But this is not the case with Renaldo. His foundation is Jesus. Because of his commitment to faith, Renaldo quit the sport, believing his dream for soccer had come to an end. This last spring God used our team to breathe life back into a dream that Rendaldo thought was dead and buried. To start, it was our team funding and donations that enabled the first Christian tournament to be played in Haiti. This tournament included 16 teams from all over Northern Haiti battling each night for two weeks straight. Seeing this tournament come to fruition filled Renaldo with passion and faith. Even further, this experience renewed his dream of pro soccer centered around Jesus rather than Voodoo. When we opened the bags of uniforms donated by Soccer Chaplains United, Renaldo was blown away with the faithfulness of Jesus. What he saw in those bags was a miracle to him. He did not just see uniforms, he saw them as a symbol of the love and faithfulness of Jesus and that Jesus has not forgotten the young men of Haiti. When Renaldo’s club officially takes the field they will be dressed in Colorado Jerseys and they will be the first team in the country that Voodoo does not have a major stronghold in.
The uniforms and equipment that were donated to Renaldo confirmed his calling from the Lord to start this new soccer club.Matthew Hulst, on Renaldo’s call from God to serve his native Haiti
This was the first soccer tournament of its kind. No voodoo was allowed before, during or after the games of this tournament. This is never the case in Haiti. The tournament was hosted at the second largest soccer stadium in all of Haiti and the players ranged from 18-35 years of age. Due to the heat, they played in the late afternoons and evenings in a “world cup” style of play. Before every game, as the teams were in the locker rooms getting dressed for competition, our team got to go into the locker rooms and had 20 minutes to share the gospel and minister to these teams. During these times we saw men rejecting voodoo and getting on their knees in front of their peers and giving their lives to Jesus.
All these sessions were translated by of few Haitian friends (including Renaldo), and due to Renaldo’s influence, these men saw, possibly for the first time, that it was possible to live a life for Jesus alone and still be Haitian. A number of times, we saw the players come back to us after the game asking to learn more about Jesus. A goalie, on one of the teams, after the consolation game finished, came back into another team’s locker room asking us if he could accept Jesus into his life. During these locker room sessions, twenty men rejected voodoo and accepted Jesus and 60 more men committed to long term discipleship with Renaldo and his team.
This was a unifying event between churches and ministries in Cap-Haiti and moved into bringing the gospel to men who would never be reached in a regular church environment. Praise the Lord that he uses soccer to bring the gospel throughout Haiti. They are praying for this to be a yearly tournament and are hoping for it to be in four locations around Haiti next summer. Let’s pray for this be a catalyst for the change we are all hoping to see in Haiti.
Each day in the mornings our team put on small soccer camps with all the littles at an orphanage called Street Hearts. We started by sharing a gospel message with them and then put them through drills and finished with two on two soccer competitions. These young kids were good and even at a young age, kicked our teams’ butts. Most of the kids we worked with knew Jesus and it was fun to see the joy on their faces as we were able to give them “real” soccer balls, jerseys and equipment. This specific orphanage is doing such an amazing job of training their littles in the ways of Jesus and developing Godly character in their hearts. Our team still talks about it three months later that these young kids give us hope to see change happen in Haiti.
Our team wants to thank Soccer Chaplains United for partnering with us through funding, donations, and prayer as we were part of God moving in this small area of Haiti. We could not have had the impact we did without you guys. We have so many more stories including a Haitian wedding, a gangster street kid becoming a ministry leader in the church, soccer among the poorest of the poor in the villages, praying for the mass rioting and so much more. But that will be for another day. Thank you and please join us as we are praying for next year’s tournament.
We’d like to thank Matt and his team for their faithfulness and this amazing story of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
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