Soccer and Mission

A mutual love of soccer helped Samuel Goia, a United Methodist lay pastor in Romania, connect with Roma youth and form a team, leading to a ministry with an ethnic group widely discriminated against in Europe. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goia.
By Linda Bloom
Aug. 30, 2017 | UMNS

On a plot of land in the Romanian village of Comsesti, Samuel and Diana Goia meet every Thursday — regardless of the weather — with a group of Roma that they hope will become a United Methodist congregation.
There are plans for the land, too, with an architect’s drawings of a community center and worship space that will help enrich the lives of an ethnic group that faces discrimination and social exclusion throughout Europe. The European Union has called upon its members to improve the lives of Roma citizens and has established a framework for national integration strategies by 2020.
For Samuel Goia, who also serves as lay pastor of a small Romanian congregation, the key to making a connection was the love of soccer.
“I started to do this (soccer) ministry because no one was doing anything with those kids, and I liked to play soccer and they liked to play,” he told United Methodist News Service in an email.

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