Sometimes we feel connected to complete strangers, not really knowing why. It happened to me during the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa. I’ve rarely watched soccer on television. But this year I was gripped by it for two reasons: Because it was taking place in South Africa, which is a miracle in it’s own right, and because of one particular player.
The player’s name is Asamoah Gyan, number 3 on the Ghana side. It was a little uncanny for me how I was caught by this particular player right from the start. It was as if I knew him, or recognized him, or recognized something in him, about him.
It was a quality radiating from the man’s face… something very ancient and wise way beyond his years. It was the heart of Africa. It was the character of Humanity. Something beautiful!
As it turned out, Asamoah G. was the focus of one of the most extraordinary moments of the entire World Cup. It was the last few seconds of extra time in the quarter-final game versus Uruguay. The game was still tied. The winner would advance to the semi-finals and possibly to the win the Cup itself! Ghana was the only African team to have gotten this far. All of Africa was rooting for them. The whole world was watching.
Ghana managed to knock Uruguay off balance enough to penetrate their defense and shoot what would have been the winning goal except that it was blocked by the panicked hand of one of the Uruguay players! Foul! Red card! Penalty kick for Ghana!
But what happened next bewildered the world. Number 3 for Ghana had the honor to shoot the penalty kick, allowing his team and Africa to advance to the semi-finals. The world was focused on my friend Asamoah.
The unbelievable happened. He missed!
Uruguay went on to win the game in ‘shoot outs’. Ghana was out. Asamoah was beside himself, inconsolable, curled up on the pitch, sobbing. But here is where this tale takes a turn…
As has happened a few times in my life, as my friend lay there curled up on the soccer field, the world collapsing upon him, I saw something. It was a glimpse of the future, or one of many possible futures. But it was as real and vivid as if it had already happened.
I ‘saw’ Asamoah Gyan as a grandfather sitting in a village center with a large group of children gathered around him. He was a hero to them, but not because of soccer. He had become known throughout Africa as a gifted healer. He was telling them about the 2010 World Cup and how it came down to one kick, one tiny moment, one mistake.
“That one mistake could have cost me my whole life if I let it,” he told them, “but it did not! In fact, I am grateful for that moment because in that one instant my whole life, past and future, hung in the balance. I saw that compared to the great game of life and the challenges of living, I was not going to let this ‘mistake’ crush me, even with the whole world watching! My life was far too valuable and important to let that happen.”
“So in that instant, boys and girls, a decision was made. It took me many years to understand it. But that single moment was the turning point that led me to the path of healing and helping Ghana to become safe for yours and many generations to come!”
That’s what I saw. I hope it becomes true. Whether it does or not, the message still stands:
Sometimes our lives are gifted with potential turning points in disguise. It is a matter of being present and open in that moment to recognize it when it happens.
Thank you Asamoah!