Coming Full Circle: One MAI Missionary’s Journey Back to Brazil and to Sports Ministry

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Jean DeSouza grew up in Brazil, until moving to the US at age 22 for missions training.   His first introduction to Sports Ministry came in 2005 when he participated with a Grace College Men’s Soccer Team missions trip to Japan with MAI’s Southern California Seahorse team.  The Seahorse’s led the trip as an outreach at an American base in Iwakuni.  Jean was so impacted by the experience that he returned to Japan for two weeks in 2006 to help with soccer clinics and eventually moved there in 2010 to help establish a soccer school.

After returning to the US from Japan a few years later, Jean and his wife Tasha were seeking the Lord as to whether or not to continue in Sports Ministry . What solidified Jean’s call to doing so was his trip to back to Brazil in 2013 with MAI’s  Chicago Eagles.  “Watching the Eagles in action while in Brazil was very encouraging and was the place where God made it clear to me that He was calling me to continue my journey into sports ministry and to join the Chicago Eagles as a full time staff member.”

One experience on this trip was especially impactful to Jean when he and the Summer Academy members were dropped off at a dirty, weed-filled neighborhood soccer field during their trip to Brazil.  Upon arriving, the Academy players began clearing the lot to prepare it for their clinic that afternoon.  Within 45 minutes, the area was clear.  The clinic ran smoothly, and one of the players started to give his testimony afterward.  While he was speaking, Jean noticed that a man was standing fairly far away from the clinic, trying to listen to the testimony.  He had been observing the soccer clinic for a few hours while muttering something under his breath.  When Jean asked him what he was saying, he replied, “I am a failure.”  Led by the spirit, Jean responded by telling him that he wasn’t a failure and that God made him and sent His Son to die for his sins.  Then he asked if the man wanted to pray with them, and if he believed that Jesus was His Savior.  Tears filled the man’s eyes as he nodded his head and said yes.  All of the American players surrounded him and prayed for him as the night ended.

As Jean enters his second year of living out his passion for telling the world about Jesus through the sport of soccer,  he has had to sacrifice in order to provide for his family in a way that opened up more opportunities for him to share the gospel.  Jean works for UPS Monday through Friday in the morning from 3:45 to 8:00 am before the day even begins for most.
“Working for UPS has been a way to provide a little bit of income and health insurance to my family since we aren’t fully funded yet.  But the amazing thing is that through my job I’ve experienced God’s grace and love for the lost.  God has challenged me to care and pray for my co-workers and supervisors every day.  The cost may be large, and the sacrifice required may be painful, but God blesses us as we invest ourselves into His work.”

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