Gleason’s Soccer Ball

If you’ve ever been to Haiti in August, you know the kind of hot it was the day we met Gleason. It was so hot that I thought I was going to melt into the earth in Belle Anse! We had pushed our group from Parkview CC (OH) to the limit. The morning before, we made a long voyage on the Carribbean. Then, we had spent two days in the blistering heat moving rock to help build the foundation of the new Emmanuel Christian Church of Belle Anse. We felt we couldn’t consume enough water to stay cool or hydrated!

As I walked toward the water station, I heard Kenny say, “Man, this kid has worked so hard we need to do something for him!” I’ve heard things like that a lot in over 20 years of international ministry. I’ve see the kinds of things plain handouts can do in a community over time. At HCO we have committed to Helping Without Hurting, so my first thought was: “Just ignore the comment. He’s just an American looking to give stuff away to the poor people of Haiti.” But, then I caught the eyes of the big, burly, former football player, Kenny, and knew this meant something different! At that moment, I knew we were going to give this kid something. As I drank some water, I watched this boy and the three others with him.

Later, as the group finished working, I saw a soccer ball that Parkview had brought with them. I asked MacKenna if they had another ball, and she said they did. Then, I called the four boys over to talk with us. The boy Kenny had mentioned walked to the front of the group, and I verified with Kenny that this was the same boy that had worked with us both days. Kenny confirmed that it was.

Me: “What’s your name?”

The boy: “My name is Gleason!”

Me: “Have you ever owned a soccer ball?”

Gleason: “No”

Me: “Well, Mr. Kenny told me you have been working really hard with group, and I believe that when a man works hard he gets paid. This soccer ball will be your pay for working hard the last two days. Is that okay?”

Gleason (with the biggest smile ever): “Yes, sir!”

Me to Gleason’s friends: “This is Gleason’s soccer ball because he worked for the last two days. If he chooses to share it with you, that is his decision. But all of you have to understand this is his ball because he worked hard for it!”

Gleason: “Thank you very much!”

As Gleason ran away with his friends, many of the team members thanked me for how I handled the situation. For me, it was a natural interaction that grew out of years of working to understand how best to relate to and serve others in international missions. It was built on the hope that we can truly equip, encourage, and empower without causing dependency! It gave me hope!

by Cameron Mayhill
US Director