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CBN.com “Ever since I can remember, I played soccer. When I was little, over there on the streets of Brazil, I always played with my friends. Now it’s my career, my profession, and I give thanks to God for that.”
Edmilson Jose Gomez de Moraes -- or simply Edmilson as he is known in the world of soccer -- has been on several championship teams. In 2002 he helped Brazil win the World Cup. But Edmilson knows that triumphs don’t come without a price.
“In Brazil we would always go to school in the morning, from 7am until 12pm, and later in the afternoon it was soccer until 8pm at night,” Edmilson says. “Many times we arrived very late and the school’s homework was left for another day [laughs].”
Growing up, Edmilson’s No. 1 priority was soccer, but he still had to help support his family.
“I had to work with my father picking oranges, and this took me away from soccer and from the school I went to,” he recalls. “I always asked God for strength to have some money, to be able to buy something for my father, take him out of the hard job that he had.”
But Edmilson’s life moved in a different direction...
“When I was about 12 or 13 years old, at the end of the week, I’d go out with my friends to drink, to party,” he says. “There was a time near the end when I was falling into drugs, a lot of alcohol, many girls, everything.”
But he realized that it was a game he was definitely losing.
“One thing I felt was that I didn’t want to continue in that life. I wanted to change because I saw my older friends, or my father’s friends, or my brother whose lives were so destroyed. Since I was small, I was already on the streets. I was thinking, what am I going to do when I grow up?”
But Edmilson was a great soccer player. He landed a spot on a professional team when he was still a teenager. Money and material things changed his lifestyle. But something even more important was happening to him.
“I found a friend that spoke to me about Jesus Christ, and he spoke of faith and of the Bible. There I started to understand things,” says Edmilson. “He told me, ‘You know about Him from hearing about Him, but God wants to walk with you, to change things in your life, to give you a peace that the world cannot give.’”
Edmilson began to search for God. Then one day Edmilson made the best play of his life.
“When I was 16 years old I said, ‘Yes, today I understand things and I want this God of the Bible to come into my heart.’
“My life has changed a lot, but not because of religion, but because of living with Jesus Christ.”
Today Edmilson doesn’t hesitate to say that each accomplishment — on and off the field -- is a present that God has allowed him to enjoy.
Edmilson says, “I remember in ‘90, ‘94 and ‘98 watching Brazil on television, and in 2002 I was playing, winning the World Cup. It’s something I don’t have words for, only gratitude toward God for being so good to me.
“It’s very clear to me I had nothing and today I have. But if I didn’t have, it wouldn’t matter, because I have the best thing, which is salvation in Christ. Nothing compares to this. Nothing can pay for it.”
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