One of the boys at our football club in Trench Town (who I’ll call Omar) has been doing well at clubs, earning 13 “values stars” over the last 7 weeks. Over the previous 3 months he had only earned 4, and had been sent home for disciplinary reasons several times. It is good to see Omar responding well as the coaches see and appreciate the helpful and delightful boy that he is when he is seen and loved by others.

At one point during this week’s club, another boy accidentally kicked a football into the back of Omar’s head, and at that point he snapped. He took up a shard of glass off the ground, rushed at the other boy, and before any of the coaches could intervene, he stabbed the boy with it. Thankfully the other boy was not seriously injured, and one of the coaches applied first aid so he just went home after club with a minor cut.

As for Omar, he was saddened by what he had done, and was soon sent home and told that he would not be able to attend club next week. But the conversation with him, although it was firm, left him feeling seen, appreciated and loved. He knew it was the right thing for him to miss a week of club, and in a strange way he seemed encouraged and strengthened by this incident.

The following week, even though he was not allowed to participate, Omar came to club and asked if he could just sit at the sideline and watch. There was a moment when we were trying to start a drill and some of the other boys had taken the spare footballs out of the bag and were kicking them around, causing a distraction that made it impossible to run the drill. Omar picked up the bag and asked if he could help by watching the spare balls, so that the other boys could focus on the drill. As a result he became the first club member to earn a ‘values star’ on a week when he was officially banned from club.

There is tremendous power in God’s love; the kind of love that sees and affirms people, always seeking their best, but at the same time not giving any allowances for behaviour that is just plain wrong! Omar is growing because of the community of coaches that is showing him this kind of love.