Jesus Makes a Difference
It was always my dream to be a professional football player.
I’m Congolese, but I grew up in France. I played all the time. If my mom sent me to the store for something, I took a ball with me. Like every boy, I dreamed of making it. I practiced every day.
Before I joined a club, we would play in the street—one part of town against another—playing football all afternoon. My mother had to insist that I stop and come home to eat. When I had a ball, I could forget everything else.
“I lost my father when I was 14”
I was 17 or 18 when I played my first professional game, and from then on I was playing with the pros. I played professionally in France for thirteen seasons. After this, I went to play on the Congo national team. My best memory as a player was playing in the final of the French Cup, playing in the French Stadium against Strasbourg. There were great celebrations in the city.
I lost my father when I was 14, and that destabilized the whole family; at home everything revolved around him. It was as if the whole family was dying. Someone told my mother that Jesus Christ could help her. She dismissed it, saying even if Jesus Christ did exist, her husband was still dead.
But eventually, in faith, she opened her heart. Love came into her and she was totally transformed. I saw this and was astonished. She changed completely! I had no idea what had happened in her life but she was different. When I came home late from a night club, the light would be on in her room—she was praying.
“The difference Jesus has made in my life is enormous”
I was just living life like any young person, occupied by my friends and football. But there was something missing. And then one day, someone gave me a Bible and said, “You need to read this.”
I decided to end the year by going to church. On the way, I met a group of friends on their way to a club. I really wanted to go with them but I had decided to go to church and I stuck to my resolve. That night at church, I was really struck by the way the people loved each other. They loved life! The sermon also spoke to me. He [the pastor] said that God has a plan for all of us and He wants to give us the means of achieving it. He challenged me to open the Bible. I understood that if I took a step toward God, He would help to accomplish what He wanted for my life. I gave my life to God and it changed for the better in all areas. The difference Jesus has made in my life is enormous.
Starting the next day, I gave up my old life of women, clubs, everything that I was chasing to give me a little extra in life. I knew I had to give up things that didn’t please Him. So I said, “Yes, Jesus, I want to follow You. I want to walk with You.” I had found something better—love all around me.
“In Africa there is a need to oppose fetishes”
In Africa there is a need to oppose fetishes. When I became the captain of the Congo national team, we put them aside and replaced them with Jesus, which is fantastic.
I often say that we are called to live with difficulties because difficult times are part of life. But when difficulties came, God was there and I knew I could count on Him. As people who know Jesus, we know we have something that will bring us through the difficulties.
“I dreamed of playing in the World Cup. But it hasn’t happened”
Money does not stop you from having problems. You can be a footballer and still be sad. You know, as a child I dreamed of playing in the World Cup. But it hasn’t happened.
Of course, people love us more for what we can do, as players, than for who we are. The only way I want people to remember me is as a person who loved Jesus. It’s not important how they remember me as a footballer. That’s it! That is what I want.
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