Tonight, I went to my first World Cup match ever. Chile made history by defeating Spain 2-0, officially knocking the defending world champions out of this year’s championship race.
Standing triumphantly in front of the stadium.
There was so much excitement around the game: the streets were filled with fans, onlookers, locals. Spanish, Portuguese and English were shouted back and forth, drowning out the few other languages. And the fearsome presence of the Brasilian Riot Police created a impermeable barricade blocks away from the Maracana stadium, preventing fans without tickets from entering.
Before the game, we were supposed to gather around the stadium in our “Jesus Transforma” t-shirts, sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with those interested in listening. We did this on Sunday as well and saw Jesus transform others as well.
I spoke to a young man named Pedro who said he was a good person, but once we started talking about God’s high standard, he changed his answer. He knew he couldn’t be good compared to a perfect God, and he knew he needed help. He decided to recommit his life to God and to seek to know Him more each day — He walked away, his smiling face revealing his transformative decision.
Today, however, the riot police prevented us from going toward the stadium. So we improvised. We gathered in a group and sang worship songs in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Some people, gathered, some smiled, some simply walked off. We were told to “be flexible” in Brasil and that’s what we did. We proclaimed the greatness of our God in song and word and deed.
Then, it was time to enter the Maracana myself and enter with the rest of the 50,000+ fans. I sat in an all-Chilean section, which was quite a spectacle on this historic day.
Chile dominated the game, winning 2-0.
“Vamos, vamos Chilenos! Esta noche, tenemos que ganar!!” “Ole, ole, ole, ole…Chile, Chile!!”
The chants and cheers filled the stadium, the ecstatic fans made the stands rumble. Spanish and Chileans all sat and watched, but no fights started. Even though their team didn’t win, the Spaniards knew they didn’t deserve to win. They had too high an appreciation for the “beautiful game” to go against that.
The Maracana was lit up for the sold-out crowd.
Yeah, you can sum it up in a score: 2-0. But so much more happened in the game, and even more happened outside the stadium that those fans will never know about. The Chileans left that stadium chanting “Chile, Chile.” Spain’s fans were left speechless, their cheers taken away.
Yet the crowd of yellow shirts proclaiming “Jesus Trasforma” will never stop singing. The object of their songs can never lose.