Seeing Christ in Others


Goalkeeper Kenny Schonei shares why mission trips help him see Christ in the actions of others.

A highlight of my life and of my soccer career came for me between my junior and senior year in college. I was able to set up this goalkeeper camp for just a couple hours in a displacement camp in Uganda. I was there for a couple weeks in the summer and remember a dirt patch with goals made of sticks and a cow grazing in the corner. All these kids came—some had shoes, some had shirts, some had a ball—and with a crowd of people around, I was able to coach them on some of the basics of goalkeeping.

I felt called to go there so God could open my eyes. Since then I have this part inside of me that is still open to Africa and to serving others. Right now it’s incubating inside of me and I still have this strong passion to try and do more in the future. A lot of times when you go on a mission trip or to a different part of the world, you are the one who changes the most. In your interactions with other people, you are able to see Christ at work in your life and in theirs.

I grew up in a church-going family. But I think that I really became a stronger Christian when I was in high school, and I was able to go on some mission trips to several different places around the country with my youth group. It wasn’t from a specific Bible verse or a specific teaching, but it was seeing Christ in the actions [of others on the trip] that made me stronger in my faith. I saw my missions leader being a good leader, giving good instructions, and leading by example by giving to the community and acting as a mentor. I felt like [I was] seeing Christ in action and how He would open up people’s hearts, and make them so giving, so loving and kind. It’s what strengthened Christ in me, and is still my favorite aspect of Christ: His love in action.

When I think of a moment when the knowledge of Christ moved from my head to my heart, I think back to a mission trip where one girl in my group really had a powerful experience: the love she received from the people [with whom she worked] and her teammates enabled her to come to know Him. It was an emotional experience for everyone there.

But to this day, something that I struggle with on a daily basis is to try and make my knowledge of Christ [active and evident] in my daily actions. It’s difficult as an athlete, as a family man, and as a servant out in the community, to [always] show Christ’s love. I try to make it a part of my daily life and experience, to do everything I can to glorify God even in my daily tasks. It’s hard to challenge yourself to do that every day. I find the easier thing is to give just the left-over time to Christ. But God wants us to give the best of us to Him, He wants our sacrifice—a living sacrifice—to give [all] of ourselves. So if that means working hard to be the best that you can be and to try and make the most of your potential and the God-given gifts that you were given, that’s what I try and do.

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