[Photo blog] "Football" brings joy in the slums

Jonathan Lo recently traveled to Kenya with Kris Allen on the True Spirit of Christmas tour. This Super Bowl Sunday, he reflects on how sports can bring joy in the midst of hard times.

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Okay, so I'm not talking about American football, which I do personally enjoy watching and playing. "Real" football, as those who don't live in the States call it, requires an intense dexterity of the feet to manipulate a round object past harrowing opponents to the other side of a field and into a goal. Make sense?

I visited the Huruma slums in Nairobi, Kenya, this past December with World Vision. It's a stark contrast to my suburban Seattle experience in America, with garbage everywhere and children sitting and shuffling around in the dirt. Not a place I would choose to raise a child.

What really stuck with me, though, wasn't the impoverished conditions the children faced, but how they chose joy in their circumstances. Kids will be kids when they get the chance, and I think there is a big lesson we can take from them.

The Sabbath

Right up there with not using God's name in vain, creating idols, stealing, or murdering is the commandment from God to remember the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11).

As Americans, we often push ourselves to work harder and harder to be more and more successful. All the while, success in God's eyes looks very different. He actually commands us to rest: to stop, to take a break, to enjoy life. God expects his people, both children and adults, to find joy wherever they are. Success is allowing God's presence to be the source of joy in your life.

Fancy footwork

While we were walking across a large dirt field to visit our next location, I ran into the most amazing little boy. I regret never getting his name or making a formal introduction of myself, but he didn't seem to mind. All he wanted to do was play soccer. So we did.

I took a break from everything else that was happening around me (and even lost track of my group for a while) so I could play with him. My movements were clunky as camera equipment weighed me down, and my soccer ball handling was sub-par compared to his impressively fancy footwork, but once again, he didn't seem to mind. We were having fun.

Somehow, in the midst of all the poverty around us, this round object requiring intense dexterity brought joy to both of our lives. Praise the Lord for "football."

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Not to disappoint, here are some photos I snapped while playing soccer:

(All photos by Jonathan Lo/World Vision)

Give to "Where Most Needed" and receive the gift of a Colors of Africa bracelet and earring set, made in the Huruma slums by a company who received a loan from World Vision and now grows its business to help the community rise out of poverty.

Give the gift of soccer balls. Your donation of four soccer balls can replace a makeshift banana leaf ball or rounded wad of trash for an energetic boy or girl. 


    Thanks for sharing this story! Sadly, the photos did not all show up for me.

    What a wonderful moment in time you have captured. Thank you for warming my heart today. God bless these children and God bless all of my friends at World Vision. What a great work God is using you to complete.

    Hey Jen. The photos should be working now! -Jonathan, WV staff

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