Love Soccer? Find your opportunity!

Surge Wins 2nd place in video contest

Even though Surge is a small non profit organization your votes had a loud voice and placed us second in the recent video competition.  More importantly, sharing the message of this video concerning the needs, and opportunities in Burundi and the impact we can have together is inspiring.  Pleased take a look if you have not already by clicking: Burundi 1015

See Surge in Mongolia

Here is a great summary of the impact we had on our 2014 Mongolia trip.

Click here to see video: Mongolia 2014

Mongolia – Bringing Hope Through Soccer

Bringing Home Through Soccer

Ukraine? Are you kidding?

2013-10-07 12.06.02 No joke, Surge Senior VP Lotz is headed to Ukraine on August 19.  The original plan was a joint team effort where some would do needed construction of a retirement facility for the church folks while others do a soccer camp with the young people.

With the tragedy of the airplane accident and the civil unrest in Eastern Ukraine the trip came into question.  Those doing the construction, decided to postpone for a more favorable time with the hope of gaining a larger crew for the task.


IMG_0935Together, we felt the soccer effort should move forward since the dates were set to coincide with school vacation.  To postpone would  mean that the students would be in school and only a handful of teenage students would be able to attend the camp.  Al and his daughter Kelly after conferring with the church there and the team here decided to mover forward with the effort.   Please pray for traveling mercies and safety on this trip.

“I wonder how many of these young men might end up in the military  in the near future, and I can’t imagine them being called up to an active conflict without hearing of the hope of life  in Christ Jesus. I feel my risk is minimal compared to the danger one faces of a Christless eternity.”  —Al Lotz

IMG_0936Would you make it a matter of prayer that God will prepare hearts to hear the message of love and that this would be a very real encouragement to the church hosting us?  This church is already active in many ways helping people in need in many different ways.  Last year we left some balls for the soccer outreach the church sustains, but they requested more assistance in soccer technique and strategy.  Al hopes to provide some quality training practices that they can continue to use in developing the ministry.  Again, Surge will donate some needed soccer balls for the program.  Unfortunately they could also use soccer gear and equipment as well as better field facilities, that we are not able to provide at this time.  Maybe next year? We need your help!

Al’s Wheelchair Story

One of the things I enjoy most about my work is that I often get to make connections as part of a network of God’s people working to meet needs.  This is one of those stories.

2013-07-03 09.58.43Last year (2013), Surge made a survey trip to Bolivia with the idea of discovering if there was interest and need for the type of ministry we are involved in using soccer as a means of building relationships, specifically focussed on children in need.  Well, that led us to a partnership with the Stansberry orphanage.  One of the reasons for this connection was my previous close friendship with Mario  and his dear wife Eva (from Tambo days), who are serving as house parents for 10 children in the orphanage.  They were so gracious to take us in and do the extra work of preparing meals for our team  during our stay.

But Mario’s mother was also staying as she was recuperating from  a fall where she broke her leg.  She was basically bed ridden and spent most of her daytime hours in a mat on the front porch.  As we came and went walking past her, we of course greeted her warmly trying to encourage her and lift her spirits a bit.

Mario’s brother, Jaime, also a good friend and a very talented mechanic, had designed a home made wheelchair out of bicycle wheels and welding a frame to hold the chair together.  I thought it was quite ingenious, but proved out to be a bit bulky and heavy enough that it was hard for their father Abdias to push around. At that time, I thought to myself that it would be nice to be able to bring a real wheel chair to help them out.

I must regress for a moment and let you know that I have travelled twice now to Peru with some medical doctors that like to use their knowledge and practice to help people.  They have also supported a hospital in Ghana, West Africa.  Last spring I was called upon to help them unload a truck and a few days later load an ocean container with medical supplies headed overseas.  While unloading 30 or 40 wheel chairs, I asked “what do I need to do to snag a chair like one of these?”  The good doctor, immediately said he’d give me one!  And there it sat in my home for a couple months, while I wondered how I might get it to Bolivia.


In July, the time finally came as I was leading another team to Bolivia to develop the soccer ministry further.  It was under the 50 pound limit for luggage, but how do I get it within the size dimensions, so I don’t have to pay the fee for oversize luggage.  The leg and foot support were already off, but I discovered I could also take wheels off and repack it smaller than it was.  Well, to make a long story short I got it close enough to dimensions and fit it in a canvas bag & taped it up (see picture).

Then the only concern was what would happen at customs.  I knew from experience that this could present some issues and we already had soccer gear and shoes to donate.  Passing through customs was not a problem, however, even though I was asked about the contents, once the official heard it was used it was free passage through.

After with a hunched over old man!

You should have seen the smile on the faces of the family members, once I got the chair put back together.  Since Mamita was up the road 4 hours, I decided to play the part of an old man for the sake of a picture—oh, that’s right, I am old!

My purpose in sharing this is to thank all that had a part and also to demonstrate the great pleasure I get in making these connections and meeting people’s needs.  I should also mention, of course, that prayer is a powerful thing.  I don’t think these events are just random chances of coincidence, but rather is the work of a loving Father who cares deeply for His people.

New Statesman Journal Article

Salem’s soccer team may have disbanded in 2009, but the name and the team’s former coach and president still are a force in Christian soccer ministry.

Cascade Surge’s David Irby moved to Salem in 1997 for a dual purpose: to coach a soccer team and to unite Christian ministry with the sport. The idea for the Premiere Development League team when he took it over was to have the team play soccer but also work with local kids and participate in mission projects. Over the years, the team went to Sudan to play its national team as part of a peace process, played charity matches and visited an orphanage in Tecate, Mexico, played in Thailand where their presence helped fight against the “sex slave trade” and traveled to Peru playing a match in Iquitos, a town only accessible by plane or boat.

Irby said what happened is people supported the projects and international work more than the team. The transition out of the league was a “natural dollars and cents evolution,” he said.

“There’s a time for every season like it says in Ecclesiastes,” Irby said. “We had our season of ministry here, and it has evolved.”

Although he no longer had a Surge soccer team, Irby still had contacts in the world-wide soccer community. He continued, under a renamed Surge International, to put together groups that mainly take requests to go into other countries and teach soccer, love people, play with kids in the street and share their Christian beliefs.

Surge International is made up of Irby and four others, one in Georgia and three in Vienna, Austria, where Surge sends Christian players to participate in missionary work with youth and play soccer for a year. Since shutting down the Cascade Surge team, Surge International has sent 18 players there.

The road to soccer ministry

Irby said he can see how God guided him into sports ministry early in his life. He was a 19-year-old college student at Azusa Pacific University in California when the school started up a soccer team in 1972. Irby had never played on a soccer team before but said, “Hey, why not?”

He was at the right place at the right time.

“Then, I just fell in love with soccer,” he said.

His post-graduation plans were to coach and teach at a Christian university. He got a position coaching at Azusa Pacific. But his plans changed again a few years later in 1980 when he went to Mexicali, Mexico. He visited a boys’ prison playing soccer with them. He remembers asking, “Why are these boys in prison?”

He was told, “Nobody cares about them. They have nowhere to go.”

“That’s when the light bulb went off,” he said. “You can come play soccer, play their sport with them and show them that you love them. What a concept.”

Irby was an early pioneer of soccer ministry. In 1985, he was hired as the first full-time staff member of Missionary Athletes International in California. It led him to Salem 12 years later.

When Cascade Surge transitioned into Surge International, Irby still continued coaching. Over the past five years, he has coached at Blanchet Catholic School, Corban University and trained coaches through United Soccer Club. Though not coaching now, Irby, who is licensed in the highest level in the country, the U.S. Soccer National Coaching School, said he hopes to get back into it.

Under Surge International, Irby has put together short-term mission groups to Kosovo, Ukraine, Albania, Mongolia, Bolivia, Mexico and Peru doing such things as leadership training through soccer, working at orphanages or with kids in the street, and church planting.

“You show them how to run a soccer camp, what makes a good leader, how to train kids, how to reach out to families,” Irby said.

He estimated he works on eight to nine short-term missions a year with two to 25 people attending. He gets so many requests that he has to turn down around 20 a year from people all over the world.

Kickoff to Hope Tour

Last year, he met a pastor from Burundi at a prayer group he attends in Salem. The pastor was worried about civil war in his southeast African country just south of Rwanda and wanted help promoting reconciliation. He asked Irby if he would put together a team to come play. Irby hadn’t put together a soccer team for missions since the Cascade Surge went to the Amazon River in 2007, but after a month of prayer and a series of meetings, Irby got more serious. He took a trip to Burundi to check things out and then another one. A mission trip was set for June.

Across the world, Mark Geissbauer, Irby’s German colleague, who was the general manager of the Cascade Surge, recruited some star players for the trip. Musa Otieno, a retired Kenya National Team captain, committed in February, and Mineiro, a retired Brazilian 2006 World Cup player, signed up 10 days before the tour.

Irby ended up taking a team of 25, including 17 players from six U.S. cities and four countries, to Burundi. It was called the 10-day Kickoff to Hope Tour.

The team, especially with Mineiro and Otieno, created a buzz. Also on the team was a woman, 22-year-old soccer player Jontae Campbell of San Diego Christian College.

“When I felt I was supposed to ask her to play, I knew I’d have opposition,” Irby said. “I didn’t know how the crowd would react, but she felt led to come on the trip.”

Any worry disappeared when in Burundi. The idea of a woman playing with the men went over well.

“The crowd was roaring, clapping,” he said about when Campbell came into the game. “It created a whole other dynamic.”

“For a female to come on and play with a men’s team was a big statement,” said former Cascade Surge team member Josh Westermann who now coaches Women’s Soccer at San Diego Christian College and was part of the Hope Tour. “That has never happened before in a country where women are treated inferior to men. It was a big surprise for us to see the country so accepting of this.”

Twice the team played in national stadiums in Burundi. They also played in the president’s private stadium. Their games led to radio and television interviews that went out to millions.

“Basically we talked about how we came to love Brundi and that we came in Christ’s love and come to encourage reconciliation,” Irby said.

Some members of the team also shared their testimonies of how God has worked in their lives during interviews, too.

“If we weren’t a soccer team, that wouldn’t have happened,” Irby said about the media exposure.

They also checked out different existing ministries while they were there, including ministries for street kids, widows and orphans.

“We’re not just going to play soccer,” Irby said. “We’re playing soccer so we can minister, hang out with orphans and be educated about the needs there. We’re not the answer, just a small piece of the answer.”

In July, Surge International was in Bolivia visiting an orphanage and helping with a soccer camp for a church. Irby’s next two trips are this October, first to orphanages in Tecate, Mexico, for a charity soccer match and then Vienna to visit with partners and the two players they currently have there.

“You don’t have to be a soccer player to go, just have to have a heart for ministry, a love for people,” Irby said about the mission trips.

Local influence

Surge’s main focus has been international, but Irby has helped or influenced local soccer programs too. He has worked in partnership with Salem Leadership Foundation with area schools and groups, teaching how to put together soccer camps.

Irby was part of the early stages of Calvary Chapel Church’s soccer relationship with Swegle Elementary that has grown into Grassroots After School Soccer Program, a volunteer-led program working with five elementary schools in the McKay area and four area churches.

Calvary Chapel pastor Steve Hopkins, who also was a chaplain for Cascade Surge, said Irby helped get the program started four years ago. Calvary was looking to help their neighborhood, and Swegle was needing something to deter kids from drugs and gangs. Hopkins knew soccer would be a good place to start — and that Irby was the perfect person to help.

Irby connected Calvary to 2009 Surge player Likius Hafeni, who still runs the program and credits Irby with encouraging him in sports ministry.

Others who have played under Irby also are following in his footsteps.

Louis-Claude Nguea-Njoh, who played for Irby at Corban, led a soccer outreach this summer for neighborhood kids at Gateway Foursquare Church in South Salem. And former Corban player Kaleb Herring helps Hafeni with Grassroots After School Soccer Program.

“Dave’s soccer ministry started a movement in Salem for others to follow,” said Carrie Maheu, a Salem Leadership Foundation representative for the McKay area.

Irby said Surge is mainly behind the scenes now locally, linking people together and providing training.

“It’s not about planting Surge name … it’s more about helping groups design a project,” Irby said.

“People really caught up and realized how important sports are, how they are a great connector,” he said. “You just roll out a ball, and people show up.”

Contact Heather Rayhorn if you have story ideas for faith features, (503) 589-6920,

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Ukraine & Mongolia Next




Surge International also has trips planned to Ukraine in August and Mongolia in September.




images-1A small team of men and possibly one woman will be working with a church about 3 hours from Kiev in a duel effort of a contruction project and soccer outreach.  This church is already engaging young people by using soccer as an attraction, but they have asked for assistance in bringing more technical and tactical coaching to help develop this ministry.  Again, we would love to take some needed equipment and assist with their plans for better soccer facilities.  If you would be interested in supporting this effort please contact Al Lotz at

images-4Mongolia represents a very exciting ministry as we partner with church planters who see soccer as a key element in attracting young people away from alcoholism and into successful life principles and behavior.  They have the goal of planting a church in each of twelve towns within the province by 2020.  We have the opportunity to make a tremendous contribution to this effort that has the potential of far reaching impact even beyond the country of Mongolia. It is exciting to see interest generated for this project and I encourage you to not miss out on this opportunity.  See for more information on the country of Mongolia and this project.

Momentum Builds For Bolivia Team

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 3.59.37 PMAs the day approaches for departure to Bolivia the details are coming together for a good trip and an impactful ministry to young people through a soccer camp.  Joining us is a group of high school soccer players from the Church at Northside, in Rome GA.  See the video clip these boys put together to raise funds for the trip (  Scott, who has coached soccer for many years with children is also a wonderful addition to our team and will be providing leadership for the soccer activities at the camp.  Several other adults, some of which speak Spanish and some of which grew up in Bolivia will also join the effort to round out our team.  Surge Senior VP, Al Lotz states, “It is wonderful to see how God has brought together this team and the resources to see it happen.”

Along with some soccer gear for the camp, we will be taking some school shoes for the orphan kids at Stansberry (  God has also provided a wheel chair for the elderly invalid mother of Mario, who is serving as Dad in one of the orphan homes.  It is a real privilege to be able to provide some small help in this way.

The camp will be in partnership with a church who’s pastor is providing us access to the soccer fields at the Christian University and who also has a desire to minister to kids through soccer.  We also hope to visit an Ayore community to play some soccer and interact with this indigenous people group that exist in extreme poverty.  We hope to be an inspiration and encouragement to the group of believers in this community as we partner with a missionary who is working with this group.  And finally we will visit a missionary training center that is focussed on training and equipping people for cross-cultural church planting to interact with children from that community.

We would appreciate your prayers, that God would use us for His glory.