If you fly non-stop from LAX, you’ll reach Sao Paulo, Brazil in twelve and a quarter hours. You’ll have time to stretch your legs while collecting your bags, then drive another hour (depending on traffic and the line at the toll booth) to the town of Atibaia and the home of Juca Cerpe, Director of YMI Brasil.
Juca began full-time ministry in 1992 as a missionary with Awana, walking away from a lucrative career in professional soccer to focus on bringing the gospel to children throughout Brazil. In 2010, Juca took a step of faith and started YMI Brasil as a sister organization to YMI US – allowing Juca to combine his passion for soccer with his passion for sharing the gospel by helping churches connect to their communities through sports ministry.
Soccer is just starting to gain popularity in the US. For most of the world, soccer is a national sport; for Brazil soccer is almost a religion, and it’s the unifier of this diverse country. Juca brings the passion and energy of a soccer player to ministry – his zeal for the gospel is infectious, as is his heart to see churches connected to their communities through sports ministry.
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Fabino was 10 years old, though he looked 5. We were told he didn't eat much and that he was somewhat of an outcast. On the first day of sports camp, he was disruptive and acting out and being bullied by the other kids. But he loved kicking the soccer ball during his age group’s session. Each day he kept coming back, barefoot, despite the cold weather. Eventually, he started staying all day with our team. The following Sunday, Fabino came to church – happy, feeling like he belonged, and sincerely loved.
You can be part of sharing the gospel through the language of sports to kids like Fabino. Sign up for a mission experience to Brazil by clicking here!