Using football to share God’s love

written by Kate Toretti

“I believe in Jesus, what do you think about Him?” As a football coach in Argentina, Daniel Blessing, 26, from Germany, gets to talk about Jesus with many children. He loves playing football and has a degree in business administration and economics. So, when the opportunity came for him to serve God for a year in Argentina using both of those things, it was the perfect fit. 

“I was raised in a Christian family,” Daniel said. “In fact, my family were missionaries in Spain for five years when I was a small child. Unfortunately, during that time, I was pretty sick. I had repetitive fevers and other physical problems.” In hopes that a different climate would help their youngest child, Daniel’s family returned to Germany when he was five years old.  

Daniel’s sickness remained, however, for several years. “Around age eight, I began to read the Bible for myself. Throughout the entire time of this struggle with illness, I prayed with my parents to be healed. My relationship with God grew out of that. Over the course of several years, I got progressively better, and around age 12, I wasn’t sick anymore.” 

'And, I'm playing football!'

Thirteen years later, Daniel graduated from university and wanted to do something completely different before starting a full-time job. “Argentina made sense because of the ministries available to me. I'm using my business degree in helping with the office needs here and on the property of OM in Argentina. I am re-learning Spanish because I was too young when I left Spain to remember it. And, I'm playing football!” 

This ministry also lines up perfectly for the dreams Daniel has for his life. While wanting a career in the business world, since the age of 16, he also wanted to start an extra-curricular Christian football club for kids in his hometown in Germany. The experience he’s getting in Argentina is a valuable experience for pursuing this goal in the future.  

The football club he helps with is for kids from ages 7-14, Tuesday-Friday, with games on Sundays. “I’m usually with the younger kids, helping train and condition them through different drills and practice games,” Daniel shared.  

Practical football skills aside, he’s been able to teach them so much more.  

While not a Christian football club, the head coach is a Christian, and told Daniel that he is free to speak about Jesus personally with the kids; he just can’t hold an official Bible study. Already, Daniel has had many opportunities to share his faith and his testimony by answering simple questions the kids ask him, like: “Why did you come to Argentina?” or more serious questions such as: “What do you think about drugs? About having a girlfriend?”  

“I’ve been able to connect a lot of questions to my faith,” Daniel said. “I have a good connection with the kids. And sometimes it’s not even about what I say, but about how I act. When I react a certain way differently than they expected, they will ask me why I did that.” 

And it’s not just the kids that Daniel gets to speak with. The players’ parents have started conversations with him as well, asking him about his life and why he is in Argentina. He’s been able to share his faith with them as well as his fellow trainers. 

This experience of being a football coach has helped Daniel grow personally as well. “I’m not very extroverted, and at first, I had problems being the authority in my group at the club,” he confessed. “But I learnt how to do it, and how not to be afraid. I have the authority because Jesus gives me the authority as their football coach. It was easier with the younger kids, but now even the older ones see me this way as well.” 

“God also is encouraging me to take the opportunities He gives me to talk about Him,” Daniel said. “I’m not afraid of talking about Jesus, and I am asking God for more chances to share His love. But I need to wait for the right opportunities to come and be willing to speak up when they do.” 

Do you have a passion for sharing God’s love through sports? Check out http://om.org to find out how you can serve Him through sports ministry on both short-term mission trips or long-term ministry! 

Daniel (Germany) uses his love of football to share God's love with others in Argentina. Photo by Kate Toretti.

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