During the summer of 2017, we launched the SEED program with the support of Sawyer Products. Three teams of mixed sport student-athletes and coaches used their passion for sports to share the love of Christ around the world.
In May, our first trip launched to India with 12 student-athletes and three staff members to partner with Audio Scripture Ministries.
The other two teams traveled in August prior to the start of the school year. Our team to Costa Rica partnered with Push the Rock and sent 11 student-athletes with three staff members, and the final team traveled to Zambia with 12 student-athletes and two staff members to work with Poetice.
Each team served alongside local churches and communities for a two-week period through sports clinics and Sawyer water filter distributions. These water filters attach to any size bucket and work with gravity. Because of their small size, we were able to give them to individual families. The best part of all is that these filters will provide clean water for a lifetime!
We are so grateful for the support of Sawyer as their generosity makes SEED trips possible and affordable to all Hope student-athletes. Our hope and prayer is that the SEED program continues to grow, providing student-athletes and coaches with opportunities to serve for years to come in different countries around the world.
Read how three student-athletes were transformed from their participation with SEED this summer:
Hola. That was the extent of my Spanish knowledge before going to Costa Rica this past summer with the Hope College SEED program. Though I lacked language skills, I had plenty of fears. Would I fit in with the other people on the trip? How would my knowledge, or rather lack thereof, affect relationship-building in Costa Rica? And how EXACTLY was I supposed to impact the lives of so many people who I felt needed me? I mean really impact their lives! As it turned out, lots of amazing things were done in the many villages and schools we visited. At each place we brought something new to the kids through sports. We brought water filters, too. And of course, we brought hearts to serve for Jesus.
The stories that I heard, and lives that I thought I was changing, helped change and grow me instead.
On our first day of training for SEED, we were asked what we wanted to get out of our trip. My mind instantly went to relationships. I wanted a stronger relationship with God. I wanted close relationships with my fellow SEED travelers. And I wanted to grow in all of those relationships. And I did…because of my new friends in Costa Rica. The stories that I heard, and lives that I thought I was changing, helped change and grow me instead. I saw this through the unconditional love that they showed us, the testimonies that they told us, and the joy that they expressed as we played game after game, laughed day after day, enjoying each other through it all.
Now back at Hope, relationship-building with my fellow Hope-SEED travelers continues. We Snapchat daily; when we see one another on campus it’s a whole production of screams and hugs. We also have deep conversations and not afraid to talk about anything. It’s true that we blessed people in Costa Rica, but in the end, we found that the blessings came mostly from them.
In any circumstance where God is present, an opportunity for a life-changing experience is possible, and God was present in Zambia. God worked through this SEED program, not only giving those from Hope opportunities to change lives but to have our lives changed as well. For me, God worked in my life through the relationships I developed while in Africa. The people I encountered made an effort to be a part of my life during my short stay there, speaking truth into my life.
Having interacted with the people of Zambia — people so on fire for developing great relationships centered in Christ — I am now fired up myself for Jesus.
While in Zambia, we worked with Poetice, and their staffs gave me an example of what it truly looks like to live for Christ. Through their stories, advice, and actions it was evident God was doing a big work through them. One person in particular, Joel Ng’ambi, encouraged me to embrace my story as well as share it with other people in my life. My time with Joel gave me a new perspective. He showed me how I should interact with others, be selfless to others, love, and see others with God’s eyes — as my brothers and sisters in Christ. These are all things that Christians know in our hearts to do but often, at least for me, I choose not to do them. Having interacted with the people of Zambia — people so on fire for developing great relationships centered in Christ — I am now fired up myself for Jesus.
Yes, the people of Zambia dramatically impacted my life. Now I hope that I impacted theirs. Yes, we shared our stories, played with the kids, and were fully present. Now I hope those memories stay with them as much as they stay with me. Specifically, I hope that I left an impact through my personal testimony. I had the opportunity to share my testimony with all the kids and staff, pushing me way out of my comfort zone. I hope that God used me to touch the one life, or maybe more, in Zambia. Lord knows, Zambia touched mine.
God is present in Zambia. Through the pouring out of His presence in that place lives were changed, mine being the first. It was and has been such a blessing. This small attempt to put a few things from the trip into words can’t do it all justice. I thank Hope, Poetice, and Sawyer for making this trip possible.
When I arrived back to the United States, my heart was full of thanks and appreciation for the people of India who welcomed us into their country and for a SEED trip for allowing me to witness and experience God transforming lives and building relationships through us. I was exposed to the truest and purest form of God and I was reminded that nothing, not even a language barrier, can stand in the way of His love. Let me explain.
I was exposed to the truest and purest form of God and I was reminded that nothing, not even a language barrier, can stand in the way of His love.
One particular group of kids in the village stole my heart. Each day before camp began, we would pick out our teams with pointing and non-verbal agreements. On the surface, it seemed to be a normal game of small-sided soccer, but beneath, relationships were being built through sport and faith. To be able to communicate without actually knowing each other’s language was incredible. I watched kids learn how to play American football for the first time, got my butt kicked in 4v4 soccer by some talented 10-years-olds, saw kids hysterically laugh during one huge game of “rhinos and monkeys” (aka, “sharks and minnows”), witnessed adults and children crying in the presence of the Lord, and felt how gracious and thankful they all were for our sports camp, water filters, and distribution of audio bibles (with help of Audio Scripture Ministries). God’s power touched the hearts of each person there and we were all simply united under His name.
Each of us have our own gifts and talents that the Lord calls us to use for His glory. Going on this trip was a reminder that we should carry His principles with us each day and love those around us unconditionally. The impact of a smile, genuine conversation, game of catch, or prayer is so powerful. I can’t imagine how different our Earth would be if we all treated each other like God intends us to. The SEED trip is an incredible opportunity to pursue God’s plan while simultaneously incorporating sport in the mission. I encourage all Hope athletes to do the same.