Bobô and Raquel - One With Them Ambassadors
Sydney Football Club striker Bobô and his wife Raquel sat with Open Doors for an interview about the years that changed their faith, and why they’re ambassadors for One With Them this Easter.
Bobô is a leading striker for Sydney FC, and has recently become the fastest player to score 20 goals in an A-League season. What many people don’t know, is that he and his wife, Raquel, have a strong faith in Jesus as their Saviour, and are passionate about social justice and the persecuted church.
“When you say, ‘I’m a Christian’ you could see people look differently at you,” Bobô said.
Bobô met Jesus through his wife. Raquel grew up in a Christian family in Brazil and people would to tell her she would be a missionary.
Image: Bobô & Raquel
“But living in a Christian home does not mean that you are a Christian,” Raquel said. “And I moved from the ways of Christ.”
She met Bobô when he was playing in Brazil. The pair got married, had their first daughter and moved to Turkey for his career.
In a competition final, when Raquel walked onto the field to celebrate another win, a reporter approached her to ask about Bobô’s success.
“Everything has been given right to you,” he marvelled. For Raquel, the comment stuck in her mind.
“I could only think of the years I had turned my back to God,” Raquel said. “How did God still take care of me?”
“I started praying again,” she said. “I poured myself into God’s presence, and something began to change within me. I prayed to God that He would give me at least one person to walk with [in my faith] because two are better than one.”
“After a week, my husband was curious about what was happening to me and decided to give his life to Jesus. It was beautiful, we prayed together and began to study the Bible.”
“After I became a Christian it was like my eyes opened,” Bobô said. “After that I changed everything in my life- I became better. I became a Christian in a Muslim country,” he laughed.
Turkey shares a border with Syria. Conflict and persecution against the church continues to grow.
“We had a friend in the Turkish Church,” Bobô said. “His family kicked him out of his house because he was a Christian. But the best thing for me was that even though his family put a lot of pressure on him, he is still a Christian. And many people can feel the power of God in his life.”
Bobô also recalls a news story about a Bible study attacked by Turkish Islamic extremists. The extremists spent six months pretending to be converts, building trust with the small group, until one day they turned on them. Everyone was killed except the mother who wasn’t at home. When she was asked about how she felt after losing her family, she simply said, “I forgive, because Jesus forgave me first.”
Raquel and Bobô lived through the rise of the civil war in Syria, and watched as Syrian refugees fled across the border into Turkey.
“There were 15,000 in one day,” Raquel said. “With kids… It broke my heart.”
“Of course, I felt sad,” she continued. “But I thought, okay everybody is feeling sad but you need to move. You need to help.”
“We tried to help these people with clothes,” Bobô said, as the refugees arrived in winter. “We tried to help because we thought that if Jesus was here, he would do the same thing.”
“And the Bible said, before Jesus comes there will be many wars,” Raquel continued. “But that does not mean God is happy with war and with children dying. The church has a big job. They need to go, and talk about Jesus, and pray. We need to encourage the church.”
Raquel and Bobô started a Bible study in their house and baptised 5 new believers.
“When it came time to leave Turkey, we knew God would use us wherever we were,” Raquel said.
“I always used to think it was my job to speak well and bring people to Jesus,” she continued. “But I prayed for God to move, and people would come. It’s always about the Holy Spirit. He convinces peoples.”
Image: Bobô standing One With Them this Easter.
Raquel and Bobô now live in Sydney, Australia after Bobo signed with the A-league. In his first season, he led Sydney FC to win their first premiership since 2009. This season, he also became the second player in A-league history to score back to back hat-tricks.
But supporting persecuted Christians is close to their heart. This Easter, Bobô and Raquel are partnering with Open Doors as ambassadors for One With Them- a movement of Christians giving one days wage for the persecuted church.
“It makes me feel great. It makes me feel like I can help,” Bobô said. “I feel like I can do my part in the body [of Christ]. I think that is the most important thing.”
You can join One With Them this Easter and pledge to give one day for the persecuted church.