Claire and Emily recently served with Sports Friends on a missions trip to Kenya for Messiah College AROMA student athletes. Interested in a short-term trip with Sports Friends? Find out more at: www.sports-friends.org/go
A sheet of paper and a pen was handed to each member of the team. It was time to search within themselves for their fears of this upcoming trip, write them down, and offer them up to God. Claire, a junior field hockey player, had never been on a flight longer than two hours. She was nervous about not being able to connect with the Kenyans because of different backgrounds and circumstances. Both of these concerns were taken care of by God: Claire made it through the flight and she had more in common with the Kenyans than she thought.
The language barrier with the youth was one challenge that Claire struggled with. She ate meals with them each day, and she tried so hard to speak with them by asking simple questions like “What is your favorite color?” “What is your favorite sport?”. However, the youth were unable to respond to her questions. This frustrated Claire — how could she show God’s love to them if she could not speak with them?
Later on, a Sports Friends Coach spoke with Claire and the team explaining how they could minister to the youth through physical touch and actions when words become a loss. Physical touch was greatly valued in this culture, a hand on a shoulder, holding onto a hand after shaking… The coach explained that not all love is done through words. This helped Claire greatly for the remainder of the trip.
During the foot washing ceremony, since Claire and the other girls were not allowed to wash the Kenyan coaches’ feet, they prepared the water bowls and rags, which in itself was a way of worship and participation. The girls watched with the campers as the ceremony commenced. Claire loved witnessing this powerful spiritual moment between the guys on her mission team and the coaches as they washed each others feet. The campers had large round eyes of excitement and bubbled with questions as they watched this new action of love take place. That night, many of the boys accepted Christ into their lives. Claire will never forget the sacred holiness of the ceremony as she witnessed the Holy Spirit at work in not only her own heart, but in multiple others’ hearts as well.
With a love for young people, Emily desired to carry that love to youth in Kenya. Traveling to Kenya was outside her comfort zone, and she did not know anyone either. However, Emily realized that you cannot grow in faith when you are familiar with your surroundings. Being outside her home turf would allow Emily to rely on God more and to be bold for Him. She needed to learn to find her comfort in God no matter where she was.
While Emily was in Kenya, her view of God changed into a broader understanding. She could not believe how BIG God is! God is not only inside of her guiding her, but He is also everywhere in the world guiding others. She realized she could not confine God to a box. This God she serves is a BIG GOD, and it is easy to forget this.
One of the last nights of the boys camp, the team had a campfire with the boys. During the campfire, they sang worship songs and danced. This amazed Emily as she saw different cultures and languages come together to worship God! Even though Emily may not have known all the words to each song, she knew God knew the words and He was being glorified by them.
Glad to be back home again, Emily will never forget the experience she had with the Kenyans and with God. She will hold close to her heart the memory of how big God is and that He and He alone is her comfort. She is eager for another trip to share God’s love one day in the future.
Written by Callie West, Sports Friends Communications Intern