In my last post I mentioned the excitement that was in the air in Lomé on Friday, as the country’s eagerly anticipated match with Congo on Saturday drew near.  Hawkers on the street were selling yellow t-shirts, banners, and scarves announcing everyone’s support for Togo’s “Eperviers” – the Hawks.  The atmosphere was quite festive and everyone seemed confident of victory.  In fact, only a tie was needed to send the Hawks to next year’s World Cup tournament in Germany.

Saturday I knew the game was in progress but I couldn’t find it on the radio, so I went online to see how it was progressing.  My heart sank when I saw that, 60 minutes into the 90 minute game, Congo was ahead 2 to 1.  To be honest, I don’t give a rip about the sport that the rest of the world calls, rather appropriately, “football.”  But I do care a great deal about the people of Togo.  It hurt to see so many of their hopes dashed by political developments earlier this year, and a loss in this match just seemed like it would be a nail in the coffin of disappointment.

So I did something that I don’t think I’ve ever done before – I said a prayer for a win in a sports match.  I prayed that God would turn the match around and that Togo would win.  Now, I don’t think God concerns himself a great deal with the outcome of most sports matches.  But I do know he loves the people of Togo.  I also know he loves the Congolese just as much, so I just had to trust him to work out the best out for everyone concerned.  But I was rooting for Togo, so I let him know, and asked him to do the same.

Internet access hasn’t been great, so it took me a little while to learn the results.  When I did, I saw that Togo had scored at 66 minutes of play, to give them the needed tie.  Then, they scored again at 70 minutes, to win by 3 goals to 2.

It seems that the authorities anticipated that the celebrating might get out of hand.  I don’t know about the rest of the country, but the electricity in Tabligbo was out last night from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.  Everyone said that they were trying to contain people’s party spirits.  It was probably a good thing.

I know that a win in soccer is in no way the answer to a people’s need for hope.  But it is a small grace to lift their heads.  I pray that they’ll continue to look up – look up so high that they see a hope that can never perish, spoil, or fade, and that they will inherit God’s kingdom.

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