As told by Bible worker Emmanuel Kadima
Christian Lema was born into a Roman Catholic family in Mbanza-ngungu, a small town west of Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In spite of his upbringing, he wasn’t interested in religion. Instead, he had a passion for soccer. The sport consumed his life from boyhood through adulthood. He became well known for his natural talent, and signed contract after contract with various teams. Soccer became his idol, and he gave God no place in his life. Christian’s older brother was a devoted, religious young man, and he tried his best to draw Christian’s interest to church life, but soccer had become Christian’s religion.
Christian’s coach helped him to become a famous player at inter-school soccer competitions. When he graduated from high school, he signed his first contract to join a prestigious soccer team in a different town. Financially, soccer became the sponsor of his life and education. He graduated from college as an engineer in radio transmission, and his soccer career paid for his schooling. He then signed a contract with a different team and became very well known in the Kongo Central province.
Even though Christian was famous, he did not have peace of mind.
In light of all these achievements, a man approached Christian with advice. “You need to be protected from jealous teammates and other people who may not be happy with your success,” the man said. He convinced Christian to visit a witch man for protection.
The witch man gave him a small rope of red fabric to carry on his hip at all times. “This rope will protect you from harmful, jealous people,” the witch explained. “It will help you to score many goals as well.” If repeatedly scoring goals did not convince Christian of the talisman’s power, what happened next did. Christian was seriously injured during a soccer game—and then realized that he had forgotten to wear his fetish that morning! He sought help from the witch man again and was soon back on the soccer field. But from that day forward, Christian became a slave to a piece of fabric; he feared the consequences of ever being without it.
Even though Christian was famous, he did not have peace of mind. He had many sleepless nights, strange dreams, and fears for his future. He decided to go back home in 2018 for possible guidance from his religious family. They advised him to change locations, so he signed his third contract with a team in his hometown, Mbanza-ngungu. He was still using the talisman.
Then, in 2020, the arrival of COVID-19 in Congo abruptly halted his career. Christian felt bored and troubled during the lockdown. There was no soccer, no one to applaud him, he was stuck at home. His brother told him that he was having a wonderful time during the lockdown. Christian was shocked to hear that his brother was feeling happy during this time of crisis. His brother told him that the secret of his happiness was from a series of French Bible studies from Light Bearers. Christian wanted to know more about these studies. His brother introduced him to Pastor Bienfait, an enthusiastic young man with a contagious smile. Christian asked Pastor Bienfait why he decided to conduct a Bible study program at times such as these. “I want people to have peace of mind during this crisis,” the pastor explained. He invited Christian to sign up for Bible studies. With the red fetish still hanging at his hip, Christian agreed.
Christian says he is overjoyed to tell other people about freedom in Jesus…
After two weeks of studying God’s Word twice a day, Christian became a different person. He discovered that God had a wonderful plan for his life, and for the first time he knew what joy felt like. Now free from fear, he tore off his fetish and gave it to Pastor Bienfait. Together they watched the red tassel melt into tall wisps of smoke.
Along with six people Christian himself helped lead to Christ, the former soccer player was baptized. He will never consult with the witch man again. He says his greatest joy is that he was used to bring six of his friends to know Jesus with him. At their baptism, each received a Bible. Christian says he is overjoyed to tell other people about freedom in Jesus, and he sends his gratitude for the French Bible studies and Bibles from Light Bearers Ministry.
Now, instead of living for soccer, Christian lives for Jesus!