Soccer Knee

 / PAUL DU PREEZ / EDIT

He looked like a healthy young buck to me. But God had told Nick that Sipho’s knee was painful. By the time I came up Nick had him seated on the retaining wall and was holding both feet in his hands, praying for his short leg to lengthen while his mates looked on with interest. I watched Nick. Like a hawk – it’s quite easy to fake leg-lengthening and I wasn’t having any of that.

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The guys were hanging outside their headquarters, a shoddy brick corner-house roosting on the slopes of Imizamo Yethu – drivers, touts, enforcers for a local minibus taxi outfit – and Nick got talking to them. He wasn’t making much headway until God gave him an inside word about Sipho’s knee. And that impressed everyone (“How did he know?”). With his injury now public, Sipho started grousing about how it interfered with his game.

Soccer!

God gave Nick an

inside word about

Sipho’s knee.

But Nick didn’t let talk of soccer steal his momentum. By the time I came up Nick had both Sipho’s feet in his hands and was praying for him. “See, the ankles don’t match up: your left leg is longer than your right. When I pray, God will lengthen your right and the pain will go. In Jesus’s name…”

I watched with great interest.

Like a hawk, I said.

You see, fakers move the legs from one side to the other to make it look as if their length is changing, or change the angle of the feet, from flat-foot to tip-toe. And, as I said, I wasn’t having that. So, I marked the position of the legs against the background brickwork, marked the position of the ankles, the angle of the feet.

It took a while. Nothing seemed to be happening. Must have been thirty, maybe forty-five seconds, but…

“There, see, your ankles match; your soles match.”

Sipho leapt up and stamped his feet vigorously.

“And the pain?”

“Pain is gone,” grunted Sipho, grinning.

He bounced around, did a dance.

And ran off, disappearing between the neighbouring shacks.

“Where’s he gone?” asked a bemused Nick.

Anyhow, even though Sipho was gone, his mates were receptive. Particularly one bloke. “I am Lazarus,” he announced (we got quite excited about that). “Where can I meet Jesus? Which church do you go to?”

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At the time, Nick Sliedrecht and Craig Nel were involved with launching Pioneer Ministries, a missionary outfit focused on Imizamo Yethu an informal settlement above Hout Bay in Cape Town, South Africa.

More about Craig next time.