Wednesday, September 22, 2010

For the Love of Soccer

There are few things that make me happier then when things in my life overlap. I love when old friends meet new friends, when my parents come to visit my neighborhood or when friends celebrate holidays with my family. Since the day I started going to the shelter, I kept thinking how awesome it would be for some of my neighbors to come and hang with these kids also. Well my dream has come true in the form of a little indoor soccer league. When my contact at the local immigration shelter asked if I would get together a team of teens to play in a league with the kids from the shelter, I agreed right away! How fun...3 things I love dearly: my teenage neighbors, the kids in the shelter, and soccer! What I didn't expect is the impact this could actually have. When I first approached a small group of boys from our teen center and asked if they would be interested in forming a team, I was surprised at how excited they were. I explained to them a little bit about the kids we will be playing against and shared that this will not be about losing or winning, but about building relationships with the boys that are no different than them, other than their circumstance. I told them this is their opportunity to be apart of something bigger than themselves. It is usually like pulling teeth to get these boys to commit to anything, especially something that is not about them, so I was skeptical about them even showing up.
But they did. Early.
Just about every Sunday over the last month or so, we have woken up to my team knocking on our door about 45 minutes before I told them to come over. I rush to make breakfast and entertain the 12 boys occupying my living room while we wait for our assistant coach Stricker (aka Striker or Bob Bradley) to get there, on time. We load up our mini vans (yes, we own 2 mini vans) and drive our neighborhood team to the local YMCA for some good ol' competitive indoor soccer. But there is something special about what is happening. I find our team asking more and more questions about the boys on the other teams, pointing out when they are "building relationships" and making it a point to slap hands with every other boy before they leave the field. My heart is warmed. This experience has been so special to me on so many levels. I have loved hanging with my assistant coach and seeing his heart for the kids. I have loved spending quality time with the boys from Garnet. I have loved walking through the neighborhood and hearing, "Hi Coach!" I have loved seeing the boys from the shelter NOT think about their complicated immigration cases or the trauma in their lives, even for just the 50 minutes they are on the field. Mostly though, I have loved watching how God is using the love of soccer to draw us all closer to Him. My prayer for this whole thing is that the boys from Garnet will grow a passion to think outside of themselves. I want them to taste God's Kingdom, experience what it is all about, and join in. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I want them to join the fight. I want them to care about their neighbor so deeply that it leads them to do something. I have been reminded of how, although my role in this is to fight for justice for the kids in the shelter, it is just as much my role to invite those around me into that fight. I keep thinking I need to engage the influential pastor's or rich Christians...but I am realizing more and more the power and potential that is within the group of boys on my team.

What a blessing to have two important parts of my life collide in such a beautiful way.

Oh, and not to mention, our SWEET team shirts we ordered through Solid T! If you are
interested in supporting Solidarity and the work we do in the neighborhoods and at the shelter AND you want to look super cool, order one of our team shirts for only $15.

Available in Black, Olive Green, Cranberry, Asphalt, and Lapis Blue.
All Shirts are American Apparel.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Our lives have forever been changed by a new, yet extremely deep relationship we have built with an 18 year old undocumented immigrant.

His story will break your heart.

For the sake of his privacy, you will have to take my word for it.

But I would like to share a small part of his journey and ways you can join the fight by praying for this young man.

I spoke with this friend, I will call him G, last night after returning from a long meeting with a lawyer from CAST. His case has been moved from organization to organization, since it is extremely complex. Finally, CAST got a hold of his files and is willing to help him. Unfortunately, the laws are extremely difficult to maneuver and there are very few ways for someone in his circumstance to receive asylum or citizenship. After this meeting, he seemed extremely discouraged and when I asked about it, my heart felt more entangled and connected to the issue of Immigration then ever before. G has been given 2 choices.

The first, cooperate with the Federal Government, testify against those who have taken advantage of him, and receive a visa. There is a catch to this first option though; he must publicly participate in the conviction of these people...which almost guarantees some sort of backlash. Those who took advantage of him know exactly where his family lives back in his home country and are evil enough to redeem G's actions in the cruelest of ways. Basically, this option would risk the live's of his family.

The second choice, voluntarily deport himself. The catch to this one is endless. By going back he will almost certainly be destined to extreme poverty, working daily just to eat. As he put's it, "In my country, you work so you can eat that day. If you don't work that day, you don't eat that day." There is no higher education easily accessible. There are no social services to help him and his family get ahead. He knows that returning would seal his fate of a life with no opportunities.

So what does he do? Does he chose to stand up for what is right, convict the monsters who held him hostage while putting his family in extreme danger? Or does he protect those he came here for in the first place and return to what he explain's as a life of nothing?

I don't know about you, but hearing this makes the choices I stress about seem utterly ridiculous.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place. Stuck between sacrificing his family's well being for opportunity or sacrificing opportunity for his family.

This 18 year old will have to make a decision most of us will never have to make in a lifetime.

Will you join me by praying for G?

Pray for wisdom. Pray for protection. Pray for his family.