|Soccer trophies and Raffle prizes|
If you want to get a church full of young men, in El Salvador, a good way to do that is to organize a soccer tournament. The soccer tournament was organized to be played today however to enter your team you had to come to the youth service last night. This church, Iglesia Puerta del Cielo, is located in the community El Granjero which is a tough area. Last year Ruben spoke at the youth group and a few days later his friend, the youth pastor, called him and said that one of the boys from the youth group had been killed. Ruben was invited to lead the service and also direct some games. The prizes given away at the service was the soccer ball, Real Mardrid and Barcelona jerseys, and two blankets with the logos of two local soccer teams. Ruben told me it was going to be difficult to get the guys involved in the service. Keep in mind these guys are not Christians and are filled with machismo. What you could do in a normal youth service such as say, "Ok get in groups of 8 and make a circle by holding hands" would never work. They have "pena", which is like they are ashamed, embarrassed, or feel uncomfortable doing anything. One of the games was you had to go up front and do as many tricks as you could with the soccer ball. Remember the church is filled with soccer players. It was like pulling teeth to get anyone to get up and do it. Finally a few younger boys did come up. One kid juggled the ball more than 50 times in a row. After the preaching there was an invitation to accept Christ. I like how they did the "alter call". Instead of saying raise your hand and come to the front they had their students and leaders walk through and talk to the guys one on one. I felt like it was much more effective for this group of guys. After the service Ruben divided the guys into their soccer teams and then they had to play a game called "Don't Let the Balloon Fall." So in a circle, holding hands they had to maintain the balloon in the air while the goal gets harder and harder. It starts off with using their hands, then only their feet, then their head, ect. The last team standing is the winner. It was kind of funny seeing all these hard core guys playing with balloons but they enjoyed it once they felt comfortable in the environment we were in. So this morning is the tournament and hopefully last night God touched their hearts and today through this outreach Iglesia Puerta del Cielo might have some more guys involved in their youth group. More importantly a place where they feel accepted and loved.