BIMI

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disrepair. Kolya, the leader of the team, told me the stadium was abandoned and closed up. To get in I would have to squeeze between two bars in the gate that had been bent to let people in. Honestly, I thought to myself, “If the whole team can fit through those bars, we’ve got a really small team!” I also had to find another way in because I am not small. Then I experienced some- thing I had rarely come into contact with in Russia. The people there were actually happy to see me! Automatically without even knowing me, they wanted me to be their coach. They had dreams of starting a real team with helmets and everything. Most of them were students and it was obvious many of them did not have a lot of money. I began to think of all the obstacles to forming a team. The first thought I had was about what they were up against. Equipment would not be cheap. Traveling to other cities would be difficult. The place where we were practicing was literally falling apart and although I did not know it then, in a year it would be demolished. But then I considered the opportunity. First, here is a group of young people who are not pre- disposed to be alienated from me because I am from another country but who actually consider my foreignness to be something positive. The fact that many missionaries deal with an anti- American sentiment is no secret, but in this case these young adults considered my “Ameri- canness” to be a huge plus. Second, here were young men—a sector of society many churches in America have had a hard time reaching—yet this is the group from which most future pas- tors come. Third, here was an opportunity to teach something that contains a moral standard expressed in the rules of good sportsmanship while at the same time teaches teamwork. The first is a great illustration of how we come up short of God’s holy standard. The next is the key to ministering together as a church. In addition, football was nothing new to me. Although I had never coached before, I did play in high school and at the University of California at Davis before I was saved. The more I prayed about it, the more I was convinced the Lord had sent this 25