Last July, just one day after returning from the ARPConnect 2017 Mission Trip in
Dearborn, the Lord opened a new avenue for cross-cultural connections in our area. It
was sparked by two things: our children’s love of soccer and our desire to open our lives
to newcomers and see them get acquainted with us and our Christian friends, with the
ultimate goal of introducing them to our Savior.
I received a friendly phone call that day from a Muslim youth we’d met in a library the
previous summer when he and his mother had arrived in Windsor, ON, Canada as
refugees from Cote d’Ivoire, Africa. The conversation turned to soccer, and I mentioned
that I’d love to get a group of friends together to play in our hometown. He responded
enthusiastically and said he had just met an Iraqi guy in the park in his neighborhood in
Windsor who was new to Canada and didn’t have friends yet. He told me he’d made a
point of reaching out to him in friendship just as we had done to him when he was a
newcomer. He was now eager to introduce him to us and said he was going to invite him
to come to the soccer game in our town! I hadn’t even made any concrete plans yet,
and now we already had two people coming! It felt like God was propelling me forward
in a way I couldn’t resist. I lifted it to Him in prayer, discussed it with my family, and
began making plans.
Our first soccer game was a success, and we continued on a weekly basis until the end
of October. The soccer field in Cottam, a tiny town with very little diversity, became the
weekly gathering place for a mix of players of different ages, skill levels, and cultural
backgrounds, including Syrian refugee families, university students from India, people
from Middle Eastern and South American backgrounds, a friend from Iran, and, of
course, our West African friend and his neighbor from Iraq, who both said this was one
of the best things that happened to them all summer.
At the end of the first game, as the sun was setting and people were enjoying
refreshments and getting to know one another, I felt a joy which I cannot describe. I
realized that this was not only a platform for our Muslim friends to experience the love
of Christians, but also for our Christian friends to gain experience and confidence in
reaching out cross-culturally. Glory to God!