While born in Liberia, Aldophus “Doc” Lawson moved with his family to the United States as a child. His family settled in Queens, New York where he began playing soccer at the age of fourteen. Lawson attended Southern Connecticut State University, playing on the men’s soccer team from 1976 to 1978. He was the first Fighting Owl to receive All American recognition when he was named a third team All American in both 1977 and 1978. In 1978, he left college to turn professional. As a former professional and Olympic soccer player, he became the founder of DonamiSport which supports children in Liberia through soccer while holding several positions in the Texas soccer community. He continues to travel back to his home country of Liberia frequently to continue empowering young children through the game of soccer and oversee The Last Well’s work in the field as the Senior Vice President of Liberia Operations.
Q1: Doc Lawson– who are you? What should we know about you?
Five characteristics that define who I am today
- I am a man of God
- I love my family, biological and good friends, “good friends are the family we choose”
- I am an athlete
- I am a philanthropist
- I am a humanitarian
Where were you raised? What was your family like?
I was born in Liberia. I left Liberia at the age of 10 and moved to New York with my family. I have 4 brothers and was raised by my number #1 hero my mother. My parents got divorce when I was a child. My mother, a career nurse, took her five boys moved to New York in 1969 an dedicated her life to raising her boys. Everything I learn about being responsible, working hard and having a servant heart, I learn from my mother. In the game of Life, she was a true Champion. Her famous words to me, ”Do things right and finish what you start”. I am sure my brothers have there favorites also. Mom was a disciplinarian, she will not hesitate to smack you upside your head, if you start acting foolish. Love her dearly a true mentor and friend. She was a great woman of God. She never missed a day of daily devotion.
What degrees do you have? (Eg. bachelors, masters, etc.)
I was a Philosophy major when I started college. However, my high school athletics years drew a lot of attention to me and I got a lot of recognitions. My senior year in high school, in the New York City public school system, which is the largest public school system in the United States, I was awarded the most outstanding student athlete for all sports. I stared in soccer, basketball and track. My senior year in high school, I was recognized as one of the top 5 high school athletes in the United States. By the way I went to Jamaica High School in Queens, New York. During my sophomore year in college, I was called up to join the United States 1980 Olympics Soccer team. The United States boycotted the 1980 Olympics games. I was later drafted into professional soccer the same year after the Olympics boycott. My college life was cut short to 2 ½ years. I enjoyed two years of All-American Soccer recognition and in my freshman year I was voted MVP in soccer for the New England Region. I attended Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut. After 2 ½ years at Southern Connecticut State University, I went on to play 15 years of professional soccer. I was recognized/awarded soccer volunteer of the year for the United States in 1987. I volunteered and participated in over 2,000 soccer related activities for children over a period of 10 years. Another great lesson learned from my mom, “be a giver and not a taker.”
Hobbies? Activities you enjoy? Childhood heroes? Favorite candy, perhaps?
- I enjoy cooking and baking: pound cakes, corn bread, and biscuits. I like creating my own recipes from scratch. One of my favorite meals is seafood fettuccine, with sweet peppers, red sauce with shrimp, scallops, and chunks of crab meat.
- I collect inspirational books. My favorite author is Napoleon Hill.
- I enjoy quiet time reading.
- I am an avid journal keeper. I started keeping journals at age 14 and still keep them today, at age 61.
Q2: You have an incredible story, Doc! From four seasons spent with the North American Soccer League to playing on the Olympic team in 1980, your story is one of triumph! What’s it like getting to play soccer professionally?
Soccer was my second favorite sport, the first being basketball. Growing up in New York City, a childs rite of passage to becoming a teenager was earned on a basketball court. During the summer I lived in neighborhood parks, and on basket courts from morning to night. It was my high school coach who convinced me to go with soccer in college. He simply said, “too many young people are going after basketball.” “Soccer is up and coming and you are gifted enough to make a contribution to its growth.” I am glad I took his advise. I went on to play 15 years of professional soccer and was a 7 times All-Star. I lasted 15 years because I worked very hard on improving my game yearly, and I took care of my body. I was a vegetarian 10 out of my 15 years of playing professional soccer. I practiced mediation during my 10 years as a vegetarian. I lived and trained with one core belief in mind during my entire professional soccer career, that I will let no player out work me on the soccer field. I played starter my entire 15 years. I worked very hard and I really enjoyed being an athlete, enjoyed competition. About eight years into my professional soccer career I wrote a program for elite athletes called Competitive Edge. I still live by some of those principles today. The core belief of Competitive Edge is, “failure is never an option.” An elite competitor plays to win, and to not just participate. My dedication paid off. I carried the Olympics torch during the 2004 Olympics torch world tour before the Athens games in Greece. I served on the United States Olympics committee, Athletic Advisory Council and served 14 years on the United States Soccer Federation Board of Directors. I was on the executive team that won the bid that brought World Cup Soccer to the United States in 1994. As a component of our Social responsibility project from the World Cup profits, I headed a grassroots initiative that brought soccer to over 300,000 inner city children across America. To honor God for all that, he has blessed me during my soccer career, I wanted to do and be a God size blessing to a group of children. In 1994, I acquired 4,000 tickets to the World Cup Finals at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, with the support of the Los Angeles housing authority, police department and school districts. I bussed 4,000 children from the inner city of Los Angeles to the finals. I provided lunch and souvenir T-shirts for every child and adult volunteer. It was one of the most joyful and rewarding days of my life. I was able to serve others and be a blessing to so many children.
Doc Lawson in Liberia
Q3: And what is your job with TLW? How is God using you to bring clean water and the Gospel to every corner of Liberia?
My job with The Last Well is to run the field operations in Liberia. I am essentially our commander on the ground, the eyes and ears of our team in the United States. I help our partners in Liberia solve problems and make sure our partners submit accurate data of their work. I make sure projects are meeting the required deadlines and are on course with our end date pace of completing the entire nation by December 2020. I told my mother several years ago, when I was six years old, that one day I would help my people in Liberia. Fifty-five years later God has made the prophetic words of a child come to pass through this mandate of the The Last Well.
Q4: When you first heard about what TLW was doing, how long did it take for you to see the scope of what they were trying to do? (The grandeur, if you will.) What was your first impression?
It took me about two years to become convinced that The Last Well was 100% committed to its mandate for Liberia. It would take another two years for me to fully understand the magnitude and scope of the work. No one has ever talked about completing an entire nation with safe, clean drinking water and sharing the gospel with everyone they served with water. The logistical challenges with road conditions in the rain season make it almost impossible to move equipment and people to certain parts of Liberia. An area that may take a day during the dry season to reach, may take a week or two in the raining season to reach.
Q5: What were your initial thoughts after meeting Todd and the rest of TLW team?
Todd told me, “The vision of The Last Well is reaching an entire nation (Liberia) with safe, clean drinking water and share the gospel with everyone they serve water to.” Our projected end date is December 31, 2020. Todd also said he heard about my network of influential people in Liberia and they could use my help. I told him I will pray about it and get back to him. I am here today with the team. God still answers prayers.
Q6: Todd has often said that “We’re the best kept secret in Christian non-profit work around the world.” Why do you think that is?
It is impossible to hear about the mandate and fully understand the magnitude of the large-scale outreach, discipleship and evangelism that is happening in Liberia. You have to be in Liberia to fully see and experience what God is doing there. It is indeed a miracle.
Q7: What stories of hope have you seen on the ground in Liberia? (Or, how has the efforts of TLW provided hope?)
Everyone is saying the same thing, that water is life. All people are grateful for our mandate of water. But many of the people in villages are talking about Jesus and the miracle of water that has come to their village. Some of these villages are so remote that only surrounding villagers visit there. So when we bring the water and share the gospel, they quickly see the miracle and want to know more about Jesus. Because no development or outsiders have ever reached them before we arrived.
Q8: Perhaps even more than clean water, how have you seen the Gospel shape the lives of the Liberian people?
Churches and fellowship centers are popping up all over Liberia.
Q9: What things can we expect to see over the coming months leading to December 2020?
Completed counties with universal water access for all its people.
Q10: How can we all be praying for you and the beautiful nation of Liberia?
Pray for my sustained physical health. Pray for our leaders in Liberia.