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I am not a big soccer fan but I am a fan of something that happened at the World Cup Games this summer. This event is very unusual in light of what is normally seen at sporting events or other events. Japan was playing Belgium in the Round of 16. Japan had a commanding and seemingly insurmountable lead but Belgium made an incredible comeback and Nacer Chandli of Belgium finished off the epic comeback with a last second goal to give Belgium the win, 3-2.
I don’t think there are any more avid fans than soccer fans. The Japanese fans are just as avid as any other fans. They want their team to win. It was a devastating loss when Japan was knocked out of the competition. But what I want you to consider is how the Japanese fans responded to their team’s loss. They picked up garbage bags and they began cleaning the stadium. That’s right, they helped the stadium workers pick up trash in the stadium. This is something that the Japanese fans had done throughout the World Cup Games. Following every game in which Japan played the fans stayed after the game to help pick up other people’s trash. That is incredible especially in light of what we know happens in the United States. When there is a great victory in the sports arena in the United States, celebrations usually involve destroying things. We have seen news reports of such destruction in our large cities as turning cars over and setting fire to them. So, when the Japanese fans cleaned up the stadium it definitely caught my attention. Not only did they pick up trash in the section where they were sitting, but they picked up trash throughout the stadium left by other fans.
Earlier this month, Portsmouth celebrated the annual River Days. One of the major events of River Days is the parade. The parade this year was fantastic, with over 400 units in the parade. Central Church of Christ had an entry in the parade this year. Something we have done for several years now is hand out bottled water to the parade attendees and entrants in the parade. This is a way of making known the church in our community. This year we ran out of bottled water. What I was amazed about this year, was when the parade was finished and the people where we were stationed began leaving, the street was littered with trash that had been left behind. People just threw their garbage on the ground and left it, expecting someone else to come along and clean it up. We tried to clean up our area as best we could. My hope for the future parades is that people will take more sense of ownership and will clean up after themselves. We need to take more pride in our community and do our part to keep our community cleaned up.
As Christians we want to make a good impression on our community. Picking up after ourselves is certainly one way we can do this. This certainly goes against the norm. We have been preaching on Sundays about ‘Christians in Camouflage’, talking about how Christians are blending in with our society and looking like and acting like the world rather than standing out and being different. We need to step up and be different in the way we are living our lives. Let’s make a great impact in our community for the sake of Jesus Christ.

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