Growing up in Malawi, Africa, the second youngest of ten children, Humphrey Mahowa cannot remember a time when he didn’t play soccer and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Following graduation from The Master’s University, Mahowa hopes to play professionally, “If God wants me to go play [soccer] somewhere and opens that up than that’s where I am going, wherever He calls me; Africa, America, Europe, Asia. I just want to be connected with people in the community where I can impact kids and share the gospel.”
This however was not his original goal, “growing up, I just wanted to play. I would be home in the morning, leave to play soccer, and only come back for lunch and dinner.” As a teenager, Humphrey began traveling throughout southeast Africa with Chisomo Idea, a ministry based in Malawi that uses soccer as means to share Christ in impoverished communities. This ministry had a profound impact on Humphrey’s life not only in providing the opportunity to sharpen his skills on the field but also in creating numerous outlets to share his testimony with many along the way. During this time, Humphrey’s team partnered with an American church and providentially met visiting TMU soccer player, Jack Holmlund. The Lord used this meeting to change the course of Humphrey’s life, as Holmlund encouraged him to consider Master’s U and connected him with TMU soccer coach Jim Rickard. Within one year, Humphrey tried out for the team, was accepted as a student athlete and left the only life he’d ever known to head to Southern California.
Traveling over 10,000 miles from home, Humphrey knew “Geography is a great teacher. If you move from one place to another you learn something new. Your perspective grows.” He also knew The Master’s University, “provides an environment where you can grow. You can go to another school and get a degree without understanding how to use that training to impact others for Christ. Master’s is the place where you can learn how to be a leader and serve others.”
“I feel called to lead and I believe I can lead people better if I continue learning. I don’t regard myself as something special, but the people who helped me get to this point in life and develop that leadership are.” Among those that have had an impact on him Mahowa credits his parents, his former coach and mentor at Chisomo Idea and many at The Master’s University including Coach Rickard. Of Rickard, Humphrey said, “He’s just a guy you want to be like. He wants to develop people. He cares more about you as a person than as a soccer player, you don’t see that in a lot of coaches.”
In his two years at Master’s U Humphrey has been awarded the 2014 Conference Player of the Year and is a two-time NAIA Honorable Mention All American. He also serves as the Master’s U soccer team captain. On this team leadership role Mahowa reflected, “Everyone has to understand that just being able to play college ball is a privilege. I recognize this experience is not common to everyone. It’s great just being a part of this team. And being entrusted, as a leader, has been a life changing experience because you begin to see yourself through a whole different perspective. You want to live up to what people are entrusting you with.”
His development as a leader is affirmed through his fellow teammates. Mid-fielder and sophomore Taylor Howard said, “Humphrey is a quiet leader. He is always working hard in practice and when he is in the game: he leads by example.” Elijah Paniagua, senior Mid-fielder added, “He consistently has a positive attitude; is joyful and is always laughing in practice which helps lighten the mood and boost team morale.”
Coach Rickard describes his Forward as “a very skilled player who almost floats on the field with the ball.” As graceful and skilled as Humphrey is, this is not what defines him. Regardless of the question, his response always pointed back to his pure love of the game and the fact that it is a means for him to share the gospel. “Poor communities are an important way to reach out; it is how I grew up. I understand that situation and environment. I understand that it is easy to blame God and say that He is the reason they are poor and therefore He doesn’t love them. They believe this because they don’t rightly understand who Christ is and what He has done. I want to reach out and share that with them.”
Coach Rickard finished describing Humphrey as “a tremendous person who has a heart for ministry” and sitting down to hear his story proved complete affirmation of that.