Five Hope College women’s soccer student-athletes on this season’s roster have travelled to Africa, Central America and Asia as SEED program participants. SEED stands for Sport Evangelism to Equip Disciples, and over the past three summers, 121 Hope student-athletes, along with a more than a dozen Hope coaches and staff, have brought compassion, care and Jesus Christ to eager children and their families.
What memories were made and lessons learned from going around the world with SEED? Read some of the five women’s insights below.
Senior Megan Bigelow, a business and economics double major from Flushing, Michigan, went to Ghana in 2018.
In Ghana, I met people who lacked much more than me in material goods but were so, so much richer in love for the Lord. That single statement is something I still chew on today. It is easy to sit and talk about how I need to act more grateful, but the emotions I felt in Ghana from the kids and families were so genuine, I can’t explain it. To me, it is not just adding a segment to my prayers about thankfulness; it is about finding ways that I am brought back to the authentic, unconditional love the Ghanaians had for God. I owe Ghana for the courage I found in myself to accept my journey as it was and to continue to find ways to be the hands and feet of the Lord in the most authentic ways I can.
Senior Sarah McCoy, a nursing major from Stevensville, Michigan, went to India in 2017.
On the surface, leading (sports) camp seemed to be a normal game of small-sided soccer or volleyball, but beneath, relationships were being built through play, laughter, and competition. I never really realized how sports could be a vehicle for mission work. I watched kids learn how to play (American) football for the first time, got my butt kicked in 4-on-4 soccer by some talented 10-year-olds, and saw kids hysterically laugh during our huge game of “rhinos and monkeys” (sharks and minnows). Sports are universal—meaning the lessons, impact, and enjoyment are fluid between cultures. The impact of a smile, genuine conversation, game of catch, or prayer is so powerful. As a student-athlete, this principle can be applied to how we treat our teammates, opponents, and those who look up to us.
Sophomore Hannah Mitroff, an exercise science and psychology double major from Rochester, Michigan, went to the Dominican Republic in 2019.
The biggest takeaway from my trip was that mission work never ends. You don’t need to be abroad in a small village to be a missionary. God calls us to be missionaries, and that can begin in our own community. Maybe it’s becoming more selfless or joyful, participating in more community service, or maybe it’s slowing down and appreciating God’s love in everything and everyone around you. Whatever it is, He calls us to love others and serve others, no matter where we’re at.
Junior MeKenna VanKoevering, a nursing major from Zeeland, Michigan, went the Dominican Republic in 2019.
My faith grew a lot from this trip. I learned so much about myself and about God. I was blown away by the kids we met there and hearing their faith stories were incredible. God spoke to me through this trip and through the people I met in the Dominican Republic but also the people within our Hope group. And from this trip, I have a greater understanding of how faith can be a part of athletics. The ministries we partnered with were really cool, and they were very diligent in how they were spreading the word and love of God to the kids through sports. We got to step in for a week and help do this. That made me so glad I am a part of Hope Athletics.
God calls us to be missionaries, and that can begin in our own community. Maybe it’s becoming more selfless or joyful, participating in more community service, or maybe it’s slowing down and appreciating God’s love in everything and everyone around you. — Hannah Mitroff
Junior Audrey White, a nursing major from Hudsonville, Michigan, went to the Dominican Republic in 2019.
There was a lot of little moments that really stood out to me, but honestly, there was never that one big moment. And that’s what I expected, but looking back on the whole program, what was on my mind through the whole trip was wanting to see God every day, all day, even in the little things. So, I went into this program thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have this huge, eye-opening experience. My life is going to change because of one encounter or revelation.’ That didn’t happen but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t changed. In talking with Caroline (Dykstra, the SEED director), we discussed how this whole trip isn’t supposed to just put us on the spiritual high for a week and then have it just drop away when we get home. Instead, we need to keep our eyes open and we need to keep seeing God every single day, all the time in our everyday lives, too. It was honestly a life-changing experience. I’ll take things from my time in the Dominican for the rest of my life. I’ll never forget my SEED trip.