A father’s love

The Brazilian footballer Roberto “Bobby” Firmino has had a very successful career. After playing in Brazil and Germany he signed for Liverpool in 2015 and now plays in Saudi Arabia. He has represented Brazil 55 times scoring 17 goals. He grew up in a poor family in Brazil. His father, Jose, was a street vendor and his mother was a housewife. From an early age, like many young boys in Brazil, he was “football mad” with dreams of one day playing for Brazil. Roberto has fulfilled many of his childhood dreams.

Through the life and witness of his Liverpool teammate Alisson Becker, Roberto became a Christian when he put his trust in Jesus Christ as his Saviour. He was baptised in 2020. At his baptism he said, “Jesus is love, I can’t explain it. It is enough to trust, to believe in him, and experience the Holy Spirit.” Through Roberto’s witness his father, Jose, became a Christian and was baptized. During the recent international break, when Jose was visiting Roberto and his family in Dubai, he suffered a sudden heart attack and died at the age of 62. The day after his father died Roberto paid an emotional tribute to him thanking God for the time they had had together.

Roberto began with words from the Bible, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Then he continued, “Father, just like you, speaking in public has never been my forte. I’ve always struggled to put into words my feelings, but it’s never, ever been this hard. In the midst of so much pain, that I have never felt before in my life, I thank God for the privilege of having you resting in my arms, seeing your last breath. It took a piece of me, but it didn’t take away everything we lived together and not my faith that gives me the strength to carry on. After your death, the Holy Spirit brought back to me memories of all our beautiful moments since my childhood and how proud I am of you. You were such a good person, loved by everyone, a fighter. One of the greatest joys the Lord has given me without a doubt was your baptism and so father I carry on because I know soon, we will be together. You were proud to wear my shirts, but I was proud to have a father who cheered for me so much. Thank you, father; everything I am and everything I have is because of you. I pray that God will empower me to honour his name, love, and care until the day he calls me too. I love you! Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he live.’”

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