Monday, July 9, 2012

Why Me?

What is a guy like me doing working at a soccer camp?

Why is someone who has spent the majority of his sporting life as a distance runner learning about playing the 4-1-2-3 and teaching kids how to move off ball and create space for each other? These are questions I’ve asked myself often over the past three weeks that I’ve spent here in Cape Town helping out with Ubuntu’s U13 team and running soccer clinics for kids in Fish Hoek and Meadowridge.

1 Corinthians chapter 12 reminds us of the importance of possessing certain individual, tangible, or highly technical gifts when it comes to ministry. Paul likens the technical gifts that we all have in abundance to members of a body, eyes and feet and hands, working together in unison to create a delicate balance of vibrant life. Yet, Paul also tells us in the next chapter that there are things greater than this: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and knowledge,” he muses in one of the most famous passages in Scripture, “if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

My time here in Ocean View working with Ubuntu has taught me that there truly is no gift you can give someone greater than love: the love that you use to spend time with them, to care for them, to show them even in spite of your lack of expertise in other areas, and in spite of your imperfect way of showing it, that they mean the world to you.

A few days ago, I went for a run and when I came back, I began to do a set of drills designed to improve my form. As I began, one of the boys loitering nearby watched me intently and then began to join in, trying his best to mimic my various leaps and bounds. At first, I was stunned, then a little amused, but eventually I treated him like a training partner, explaining to him what drill I was doing next and what his focus should be, applauding him when he did well and correcting him when he missed a step. The encounter hammered home to me the fact that there are so many people in Ocean View and across the world who need to be not just led, but loved, who need someone in their life who is willing to take the time to show them that they matter, even if it is in some small and seemingly meaningless way.

The good news is that any one can do this. Any person, Paul writes, is capable of bringing that kind of meaningful love into another human being’s life, no matter how bad you may be at pulling the v or playing keeper.

Dylan Thayer feels like he’s in over his head, and would rather be running. He lives in Washington D.C. with his parents and twin sisters. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Big News

As you may have read about, one of our academy boys Eric Phillips, committed his life to Christ just recently. As crazy as it is the amazing news doesn't stop with just him.
For a couple of years now Casey, Michael, Treswill and the likes of other volunteers like myself, have sought to pour into this core group of Academy boys with love and energy that originates from The Gospel. The Gospel, ultimately being what we long for our boys to come to a knowledge of. For each of our boys to have a life-giving relationship with Christ. And after two years of planting seeds into our Academy boys and watering them ( we're seeing those seeds start to grow!
The other Wednesday night we decided that it was time to give our boys the chance to respond to Christ for the first official time since we've begun with them. So after Wednesday night's devotion Treswill gave the boys a chance to respond to Christ if he was indeed calling them. And man was He calling them. Juan, Tauraq, Chadley AND Carl prayed a prayer inviting Christ to be their Savior that night! It was amazing! Juan and Tauraq are our two toughest Academy boys to work with and yet in all their struggles and pain they surrendered to Christ and allowed him to come into their hearts. Truly, it was a remarkable night. And as crazy as this sounds, there's more to the story. At our next Ubuntu training session (which was on Monday) Treswill gave our boys another opportunity to accept Christ into their lives and Lutho, Simxolisile, Siya, Robin AND Josh all prayed asking Christ to come into their lives! It all unfolded before our very eyes. We got to watch God call these boys into a relationship with himself which was amazing. They each have such different lives, home situations and backgrounds and yet that desire for Jesus to be in charge of it all was there, heavy on their hearts.
Since the beginning, we've been praying that all of our boys would enter into a saving relationship with Christ though. So after a couple of years to see God's faithfulness and goodness in calling them to himself is such a neat experience. It's humbling, thinking that God would use us as a part of his bigger purposes for their lives. And it's especially humbling for me that I would get to be here for this big moment in their lives as my time in South Africa is coming to a close very soon. I know it's just the beginning of a life-long journey but I look so forward to seeing where it takes them. One of the greatest things about it all is that we'll continue to be in their lives to walk out all the challenges and the struggles and joys that come with living for Jesus in this life. I do know it's going to be an incredible journey to be a part of as God has such a specific call on each of their lives and in such different ways.
I know you're all celebrating back home as God is moving mightily in the lives of these Ubuntu boys here in Cape Town, South Africa.
Know that we're all celebrating here as well.
Blessed to be able to write about such good news,
Austin Dietz
Intern at Ubuntu Sports Outreach
[To see the boys who gave their life to Christ click here:]

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Eric Philips is one of the more recent boys added on to our Ubuntu Academy (3rd row, far right- And while he had been performing great, the past couple of months he has given us more attitude problems and issues at training than any other boy on the Academy. Little did we know this was all a part of what was going to happen later on. Recently, Michael Jenkins and Casey Prince had to sit down and have a very serious chat with him about his behavior and performance at practice. Even within their meeting, it was like it was it all changed for Eric. Attentive, respectful, he was practically hanging onto their every word. It was almost a new sense of maturity. I think part of what shook Eric that day was the picture Michael painted for him. He started at the end result Eric wants to be at--playing professionally for Manchester United--and then back tracked all the way to where Eric is now. Eric immediately realized the direction he's going won't get him there. From that day forward we already saw a huge transformation in Eric's behavior and performance on the field. 

A week later however, Eric approached Michael Jenkins and Treswill at practice about something even more major. It was about a decision he was ready to make. During their meeting the previous week faith in Jesus had come up and in the midst of that moment Casey and Michael figured it was best to have this discussion on another day. Well the Lord had stirred in Eric's heart from that previous week until that night at training and he wanted to commit his life to Christ THAT evening right there AT practice! So with much enthusiasm Michael prayed the prayer with Eric and Eric became a new creation that evening at practice.
To see one of our boys come to us wanting to give his life over to Christ, truly is an amazing thing. To see how God used these past few months of misbehaving in Eric's life as a part of breaking him down and leading him into a relationship with Jesus and to see how faithfully loving Eric and continuing to point him to Jesus was all a part of God calling him to himself. Truly, it is amazing to see! Eric is also the first of any of our Ubuntu Academy boys to invite Jesus to be his Savior and is something we've been GREATLY celebrating over here at Ubuntu. We spent Thursday morning's meeting celebrating God's work in Eric's life as we know it's the start of an amazing journey. A journey we're excited to walk out with Eric. Because while we're all about our boys becoming the greatest men, soccer players and people possible, this is what it's all about. Our boys coming to know the Lord and enter into a relationship that will change their lives.
It's been a pleasure to share such incredible news,

Intern at Ubuntu

Friday, May 25, 2012

Football Forward: Special Guests

Ubuntu Football Forward is a grassroots soccer program Ubuntu has started in January of this year. I'm excited to say the numbers of each age group have been growing significantly over the past months. With more and more kids attending each week, the program is really becoming a success. In even more recent weeks though, a local missions organization called All Nations has partned a college soccer ministry from the States (Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma) with Football Forward. They're a group of 12, very able-bodied, soccer-playing, Jesus-loving, college students assisting us each Monday and Wednesday at Football Forward. We've even been able to turn over the life skills and soccer lesson to them at each session which has been great. After months and months of hard work, they've allowed us to take a step back and look at the program we're running which has been cool. The kids at Football Forward have responded incredibly well to the college students as well as they've added tons of energy and really sought to elevate Football Forward as a program. All 12 of the Oral Roberts students are quite talented as soccer players so the kids have also loved that part of things.

The Oral Roberts students being here has also meant some other things. Because while Football Forward exists for many reasons, one of the main reasons is to love and invest in the kids of Ocean View. And more than just having extra hands on staff to make things run smoothly, having the ORU students with us has been such a blessing because of the way they love the kids. There are several kids, one in particular, who has just been tough to work with. He's had a lot of different hurt in his life and so despite our efforts to consistently love and be there for him he can be pretty resistant. But ever since the ORU students have been here he hasn't been able to help but smile and to be in a good mood as they've continued to love him (without even knowing this)! So that, among many other things, has been very cool for us at Ubuntu. They're also here for 3 more weeks which is a real treat!
Below are some photos of the kids with the Oral Roberts students from the other day's session!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Big Mac with Chadley

Every now and then, one of us at Ubuntu Football will take one of our Academy boys out for a meal. At 13 years old, what boy isn’t down to devour a Big Mac and coke at McDonald's? It gives us the opportunity to spend some quality time with our players and talk with them on levels that we don’t get to at practice.

This past Friday I took Chadley to McDonalds after school to grab a bite. Needless to say, he was excited. Big Mac, fries and a chocolate milkshake—does it get any better on a Friday afternoon after a long week of school?! He was surprised that I paid for it with my money though. So I just told him that I’m proud of him and believe in him and that I wanted to treat him to McDonalds. He’s one of our boys who has done the best at Silvermine Academy. I’ve got to say, the most exciting part of our time for me was the questions he asked me though. He asked things like, “Can people who’ve murdered someone else still be forgiven and go to Heaven?” and “Where is Heaven? Is it above the sky in space?” They were some pretty heavy, Christian questions that I didn’t expect our 13 year old Chadley to be wondering about. But he was.

For me it came as encouragement. That as we pray and invest into our Academy boys with our lives that they’re now asking bigger questions and wanting to know the answers to them. As they continue to grow in faith, maturity and age I hope we can always be there to continue to feed them as young men. That we would continue to pour into them to our best ability but that God would do exceedingly more in their lives than we’ll ever be capable of. And Chadley is really one of those boys. One of those boys who we believe is going to be a great, great man one day.   
Kind regards,Austin

Friday, February 24, 2012

An Inside Look

So how does an ever-expanding organization continue to grow while still holding true to its vision? By meeting weekly.
Since the beginning of the New Year we’ve been meeting each week as a staff here at Ubuntu. For a couple of hours each Thursday morning we stop what we’re doing and meet. These meetings have not only brought us closer together as a team but have been highly beneficial to our operations as an organization. Because many different things must happen to keep Ubuntu running (marketing/business, Academy, football programs, transport) and growing as it is, each team member focuses a little more directly on certain areas. Meeting each week has allowed us to report back on those more specific fields and keep everybody on the same page with everything we have going on.
These meetings have also been a time to pray together as a team, hear from each other and also to share some laughs together. I feel like I’ve grown to love what we’re doing even more through these meetings too. I’m consistently shown more of Casey and Michael’s heart for Ubuntu each week at these meetings and how they want to impact the young men of Africa through it. Which has been very cool. Because as much time as we spend out on the field together it’s cool to be reminded of their heart behind it all as well.

Looking forward to keeping you updated,