In 1987, after seven years of playing volley ball in Northeast Brazil without a sponsor and without hope, both Roberto Lopes and Franco decided to set out on a new course: they chose beach volley ball instead. In the beginning, there was not much they could hope for but they hadn't much to lose either. In 1989 the Brasilit Cup had several teams from the North and the Northeast of the country. The winners would be automatically classified for the world championship in 1990. Well, these two guys entered the competition and ended in third place. From that time on beach volleyball became serious business in their lives - just like other things as parties and fun.
Roberto and Franco participated in the Atlanta Olympics and ended ninth in the world rank. They kept moving on and by 1996 they had become the national champions in Brazil and also the world champions of that year!
Roberto talks here about his career, his encounter with Christ and how his life changed after that. Check it out!
Beach Volley Ball
Beach Volleyball is tough. Everything goes: lots of squabbles between players and lots of disputes on the sand. Outside of that, nothing happens. There is friendship but witnessing about Jesus is difficult. The players are interested in money, lots of it, and in winning games, for sure.
You gotta be good
We practice for about six hours daily. It involves physical fitness, technical skills (the fundamentals of beach volleyball), and muscle-building.
Jesus and Pain
Religion is something I have always been familiar with. I was a Catholic before. But Jesus was a stranger to me. I didn't know His presence. I came to sort of get acquainted with Him through my mom's illness. I participated in the prayer gatherings that people staged in her behalf, but I didn't get involved. One day I gave a man a ride and on the way I decided to ask him how does one give one's life over to Jesus. On that ride I made my decision and I turned my life to Jesus. My mom died but I was at peace. I thought: it is just as well that I have accepted Jesus. I was not desperate about the situation because I knew that she was with Jesus. My conversion happened through pain. Actually lots of people have to experience some kind of pain or suffering in order to accept Jesus in their lives.
Deus held me loose
In the beginning I didn't attend church. I was all by myself. I didn't have any guts to go out and witness neither did I have any guts to change my situation. I didn't know what to do. Once I put on a cap with the Athletes for Christ logo on and a friend remarked to me: "Get over that, man! That's not cool!" I lived the next two years doing anything I wanted. It was as if God held me loose. . . . I went without any discipline. I was a slave to something. I listened to voices and things like that. I didn't seek to know the truth and I didn't read my Bible. Every time I sat down to read it I started thinking about something else or something distracted me. I couldn't pray for longer than two minutes. I couldn't pray for anyone. I was a sitting duck for the Bad Guy [=Satan].
All my friends have heard about Jesus
Its been six months now that I have been listening to the truth. I have been reading the Bible and other Christian literature. Truth sets me free from the lies of Satan, from fear and from feelings of failure. When you have a heart set free it becomes easier to obey God. Prayer also has been very important. I have been changed and it starts on the inside and then it reaches my outward behavior. I have been choosing not to do the wrong things I used to do. . . . Within the volley ball community, all my colleagues have already heard about Jesus. They are able to see the changes in my life and some even ask me for advice about things. I have witnessed through the cap I wear, through some tracts, and I also speak some. I have never been as full of joy as now. God is guiding my steps.
Freedom in the 1996 Congress
I arrived at the congress feeling a little uneasy about it all. I was ashamed to worship Jesus. I felt like everybody was looking at me. The Bad Guy had a firm grip on me - I knew that. I was like in a prison which held me locked inside and which was drowning me. Then a verse came to my mind: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." I was set free! I don't care whether I can sing well and worship or not. I sing to God. I praise Him. . . .That was true deliverance.
I know that God is preparing something special for me and for many people. If God is my shepherd, I will lack nothing. My future - as I see it - is the conversion of my whole family. I pray for my two year old kids who are twin brothers, I even pray for the College which they will attend some day, for the girls they will love one day, for the friends that they will make in life. . . . One thing I know: the Kingdom of God gives me much more than the kingdom of this world can give me. To arrive at God's Kingdom knowing that God opened the doors for me is much better than fighting with my own strength to get things in life.
A Prayer Request
May the will of God be accomplished in my life.
Though I may go through struggles and problems - even death - I know who I can go to for help. God will always be there for me. I think about that verse that says: "Even if I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil; because You are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23.4)
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