While walking along the road, Jesus saw a man who was blind since his birth.

Disciples: Teacher, who sinned? Who is responsible for this man’s blindness? Did he commit sins that merited this punishment? If not his sins, is it the sins of his parents?

Jesus: Neither. His blindness cannot be explained or traced to any particular person’s sins. He is blind so the deeds of God may be put on display.

– John 9:1-3 Voice

Antoine Albert was born in Oakland, California and was raised by a strong single mom named Sandra. He has had a speech impediment since birth that led to a variety of challenges with his communication. But instead of letting these challenges keep him down, he chose to believe he was meant for something greater. 

After working hard academically and athletically, he earned a football scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley. There, Antoine excelled in both the classroom and on the football field. Antoine graduated from Cal in 2017. That same year, he studied the Bible, developed his faith, and chose to become a Christian. 

Using your voice

Despite his speech impediment, God has used Antoine’s voice in incredible ways. Antoine’s faith, compassion, and courage speak so much louder than words and give hope to others who feel like they can’t be heard.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

– Proverbs 31:8-9 NIV

Today, Antoine has already helped many find their own voices. His change impacted one of his childhood friends named Marcus who also had to face difficulties while growing up in Oakland. Marcus studied the Bible, which transformed his life as well.  

Antoine also currently works for a program that addresses the problem of high unemployment in overlooked Black and Latinx communities by providing free comprehensive career training and job placement focused on software as a service (SaaS) tech sales.  

Furthermore, Antoine serves in our Y Ministry as a mentor and friend to help teens on their own spiritual journey. He has courageously pushed past setbacks without losing his compassion for others, which inspires us to do the same.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

– Nelson Mandela

Regardless of our limitations, past, or challenges, God frees us so we can use our lives to impact those around us.

We’re so grateful to be part of a church that believes God can use everything in our lives to do good, and look forward to sharing more stories with you next week.

Sam and Tenea Manuel

East Bay Lead Ministers

Sam Manuel

Sam Manuel

Sam is a former outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. Since retiring from the NFL, Sam has worked in the ministry serving communities in the Bay Area.

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