OVER thirty years before Italy (the only county shaped like a boot) won the World cup for a fourth time, the Christian Ambassadors Footballers United (CAFU) came into being with the express purpose of reaching other men with the Gospel of our LORD JESUS CHRIST.
The movement first started with a group of Christians from Maranatha Gospel Hall in the Vineyard/Franklyn community, who were desirous of entering a team in the local corner league competition. Later Christians from other churches were invited to participate to strengthen the team and before long a ministry of rich inter-denominational endeavour was born.
Over the years CAFU has engaged Manning Cup, Major League, Premier League and other teams in order to spread the word. CAFU has also entered a few competitions, namely, the former Red Label league, as well the Tourers and Masters League competitions, (winning each on at least one (1) occasion), all under the auspices of the JFF. Twice in the 80s the squad traveled to Washington D.C. to enter the annual Bob Marley tournament. In October 98 CAFU toured Cuba, and in 2003trophycafu and 2006, Orlando. In 2007 the team captured the Copa Cabana cup in South Florida, and in the following year the mid-season Masters League trophy.
Today the group is divided into two squads one bearing the name M V Exodus and the other bearing the original Christian Ambassadors label. This resulted in a more effective witness. Both squads are made up of pastors, lecturers, physicians, engineers, students, attorneys, artisans, accountants, business men, technical directors (formerly Rene Simoes and Carl Brown), a translator, one scientist and a few unemployed. A chapter of CAFU was established in Florida in the 90s and there are plans afoot to do the same for Boston, Toronto and New York. Like the local church, CAFU seeks to be always self-governing, self-supporting, and of course, self-propagating in its auxiliary ministry.
Superficially, CAFU is encouraged by a text like John 4 which talks about the ‘fields’ (football, that is) that are white and ready to harvest. Members of both squads are also impressed with the ‘beautiful feet’, which are mentioned in connection with the evangel expounded in Romans (10:15).
Substantially, it is recognized that reaching men is a much more daunting task than is first realized. Ever since the ‘seed’ (masculine in the original) was announced in Genesis 3:15 there has been a conspiracy of the enemy to madden some males (like Cain) and murder others (like Abel; ever wondered why Cain killed Abel, without cable? Check out 1John 2:11). Either way there was an attempt to prevent the ‘Bruiser’ from carrying out His work. Witness as well the work of Pharaoh in Exodus 1 and the move of Herod in Matthew 2. Of course Satan did not prevent the Seed from accomplishing His task (Colossians 2:15), but this does not prevent the enemy from unleashing his fury against all who have the same gender of his Bruiser. After all, the more youths he kills the fewer will benefit from the salvific achievement of Calvary. I very well believe that this dynamic goes a far way in explaining the spiralling murder rate in our country—and elsewhere (a case of caan ketch Quaku yu ketch im shut?). It may also partially explain why males are marginalizing other males and why the educational system does not seem to be working for ‘mankind’ in Jamaica. Most certainly the prevalence of illegal drugs particularly among the male population is more than a pharmaceutical matter. It is spiritual to the core.
If the foregoing thesis is correct it is understandable why Christ laid such emphasis on the calling and training of men, why He concentrated His efforts in this area of Galilee, which could be considered the ‘ghetto/inner-city’ of Palestine in those days. A similar emphasis for women was hardly needed, since they routinely came for help (Luke 7:36ff) and readily understood His mission (John 12:1ff). The contrast of the male disciples would have been hilarious if it was not so serious (john 18:1ff). It is no wonder that James likens the disobedient to a male who looks in the mirror and promptly forgets to make the requisite adjustments (James 1:23ff). Neither 1st century females nor 21st century women are in the habit of doing that.
The thesis also adds meaning to the enigmatic phrase, ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ Why was this disciple given this special privilege? Was he that special? Was it because his family was wealthy? When I first made my probe of these questions I knew from the outset that there was no partiality on the part of the Master. So why then was John known as the disciple whom Jesus loved? The answer to this question I found revealing.
When John and his brother James first met the Lord they were nicknamed sons of thunder. The new name was hardly complimentary. It was more descriptive of their fiery and misplaced zeal more than anything else. In a fairly objective profile of these sons of Zebedee, the gentile Gospel writer, Luke, enlightens our darkness in chapter 9 of his volume. In verse 46 we are told of heated discussion among disciples concerning bragging rights. (It is Matthew’s gospel that informs as to what precipitated the quarrel. The boys’ mother had come requesting special privileges for her sons. The other disciples were ‘indignant. ‘ Possibly, James and John must have openly supported and defended mom’s request.). What exactly Jesus perceived in their hearts, we are not told, but whatever it was warranted a mild rebuke (Luke 9:46-48). What I find intriguing is that it was John who stood to give the vote of thanks in the following verse. Well not quite. Verse 49 appears to present John as making some attempt to redeem himself. After all, if yu trow stone inna pigpen di fus wan whey bawl out a im get lick! But John should have kept his mouth shut. Here comes another rebuke in verse 50.
Jesus and his disciples are now on their way to the capital city. Needing ‘visas’ to pass through central Palestine, messengers were sent to the ‘Samaritan embassy’, (v.52). The application was promptly turned down. No surprise here, for Jews have no dealing with Samaritans (today it is the Palestinians!). ‘And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”(v.54). Sons of thunder indeed!
Needless to say, another rebuke follows (vv. 55-56). Personally speaking, if I were Jesus, John could never be a part of my apostolic band in training much more to be known as the disciple whom I love dearly; neither James nor Peter, who completed the unholy trinity! All three were from Galilee known in those days for its pugnacious and foul-mouthed citizens. If Peter’s denial of his Master was accompanied with expletives we are not surprised. He was Galilean. If Peter was aiming for the head of Malchus, we are not surprised. He was brought up in Galilee, and can anything good come out of any of its towns (John 1:46)?
So why then was John so privileged? To reach men, in general, special effort must be made. However, to reach really bad men like Peter, James and John, special effort must be doubled. Whenever the Lord went on a special mission He would take three of His students with Him, (guess which three), for at least two reasons: 1) it was too much risk to leave them behind, and 2) because His brand of love is tailor-made for sinners (Rom. 5:8).
It is CAFU’s dream and prayer to demonstrate this kind of concern for the ‘machos’ of the 21st century.