Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ‘em?
What a treat it was to have the Queen of Katwe visit Meadville. If you missed hearing Phiona Mutesi and her chess coach, Robert Katende, speak at Meadville United Methodist Church last week, you missed a blessing. My kids enjoy playing chess, but I have never had much interest in the game. When I heard that Mutesi and Katende would be visiting, I thought it’d be an educational experience for my children. What I did not expect was for their message to inspire me.
As Robert shared his story, he talked about growing up in the slums of Uganda. Having been born to an unwed, fourteen year old mother, and raised by his grandmother, there was little hope for advancement. When Robert’s grandmother passed away, he was swapped back and forth from one relative to another until a middle class aunt took him in. It was at this time that he was given the opportunity to attend school. (Education is not free in Uganda.) Robert was a stand out in soccer and eventually learned the game of chess.
God put a burden on Robert’s heart for the kids in the slums who like him wouldn’t have a chance at a better life without intervention. He started a chess ministry center which served lunch to the children that attended. Since most of the kids often went without meals, the lunch was an incentive to come to the ministry center. Robert used the skills learned in chess to equip the kids with life lessons and to share the gospel. Phiona Mutesi happened to be one of these young kids from the slums who wandered in for a free meal. She went on to become the national chess champion of Uganda. Having been offered a scholarship to a private university in Seattle, she plans to study there in the fall. Because of the success of the Disney movie, “The Queen of Katwe” which shares the story of their lives, Robert and Phiona are now able to travel and share not only the impact of chess in their lives but also the gospel message around the world. Robert now has several chess ministry centers around Uganda that host 1600 children daily.
Think of the impact this one man has made in the lives of countless others because of his obedience to God. It reminds me of Peter and John in Acts 3. A beggar was asking for a handout and Peter replied, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” What they offered the beggar was far greater than what he’d asked for. God gave Robert Katende a love for the game of chess and used it as a tool to share the gospel with thousands of people who may not have otherwise heard it. God has equipped us too with talents, passions, and gifts that through which we can share the gospel as we go about our daily lives. Are you using the resources you have at hand to tell others about Jesus? For as long as I can remember I’ve taught my kids that the mission field starts when they walk out of our house. There is always someone who needs to hear the good news.