Athletes in Action's Global Sports Blog
Mar 28, 2014
First of all, sorry for the lack of posts during our week in the Philippines! As you might imagine, wifi was extremely limited so we didn't have a chance to catch you up on what was going on.
We had a long, exciting, exhausting, life-changing, eye-opening week in Tacloban. There are so many stories to be told and moments to be recounted. The week consisted of sports clinics, partnering with our sister ministry GAiN, spending time with the athletes at Leyte Sports Academy, precious times with our team pushing each other to Jesus and growing each other, and just helping to bring joy and healing where we could. It was such a special week that surpassed all expecations. God was working so powerfully from the moment we landed in the Philippines. One of my favorite moments was when a guidance counselor at a school was introducing us before we ran a sports clinic. This is what he said to the students: "We are no longer victims but survivors. Victims have no hope, but we have hope. These friends are here to teach us new sports to help our healing process. We do not want to forget what happened but learn to move on. We are survivors of Yolanda." What powerful words.
On Monday, we all left for our separate destinations, some going home and others going on to other countries. The seven of us team members left the Philippines changed from a week ago. It's hard to describe the devastation and destruction that we saw physically, emotionally and spiritually. But the brokenness was met with resilient hope and joy. We are so thankful to have been a small part of healing for Tacloban and the surrounding cities. Our only desire is that being present in times of trial pointed God's beloved children in Tacloban to the only One who can give eternal hope and love.
(top row L to R: Katie Campbell, Bethany Fletcher, Kelly Campbell; bottom row L to R: Chris (AIA Philippines Superman/volunteer), Totie Andes (AIA Philippines director), Shannon Hybl, Stephanie Tan, Andrew Eppes, Josue Ramirez)
Here are some reflections from our team:
"This trip to the Philippines was breathtaking on so many levels. From day 1 to the last day my heart was violently dealt with by the Lord all week. He had work to do in me.
But that work started many years ago. Shortly after I saw the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, my heart was burdened for those who encountered significant disaster. This trip to the Philippines was a culmination of the call that had been on my heart for many years.
Arriving in Tacloban with this team was sort of a dream until reality hit after seeing the wake of Typhoon Yolanda. This storm shredded this city and left massive holes in the landscape and in hearts. Families were taken. Homes were annihilated. Boats were transplanted on shore. The scene was heavy. Our team however was ready for the task, and despite the shock and awe, God helped us hit the ground running.
Through sport clincs, food distribution, and some group time with local middle and high school kids we truly helped bring God's presence to those who were not experiencing it. "God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit" David writes. That verse rang so true while we were there. We saw God comfort kids and bring them joy almost without hesitation. Most kids competed at first with backpacks on as they had just come out of class. Hope is rising in Tacloban.
One of the more sobering memories of the week for me was visiting a mass grave and makeshift morgue the last day in Leyte. We so often have our world and culture today hide death, making it seem like a distant reality. But this visit to this place made it seem very real. The smell of death permeated the air. It was so pungent that our team had to cover their noses with their shirts and even with that we could only stay a couple minutes because it was so tough to see and smell. But seeing death made me also see my life and the opportunity I still have to make a difference for Jesus. By his mercy I am still here and I want to make the most to life a life worthy of his death for me. May you also life a life taking advantage of every opportunity to make an eternal difference in our world."
"The week and Tacloban were amazing for me. I have wanted to go to an area of devastation for a while to help with relief work. I can't imagine how badly these people were hurting. We were able to bring a moment of joy through sports and to give them hope for the future because of Jesus and what He has done for them and for us. I can't even explain the amount of devastation we saw, but I know that God had us there for a reason. It was really cool to see how Totie Andes (AIA Philippines director) loves the people of Tacloban. The athletes at Leyte Sports Academy, where we were hosted all week, work harder than most athletes I know...they woke us up at 5:30 every morning because they were lifting weights. On the last evening, we had a large celebration dinner with all the athletes. They don't usually get large meals or even eat til their full most days, so that was a huge blessing to them."
"Oh, Tacloban. Well, the week in the Philippines was not what I was expecting. I had it in my head that it was going to be this epic, world-changing trip. But the trip, for me, was about moments. Moments with that girl who is standing by herself and letting her feel known, moments walking around a town devastated by the storm and feeling the weight of their brokenness, moments laughing with Steph, Katie, Kelly, and Shannon on the bathroom conditions, moments seeing precious, smiling kids running after our group and following us everywhere, and moments on the beach on our day of rest worshiping Jesus with freedom and anticipating His return.
God allowed me to connect with a few girls every school we went to. These girls loved life and had hope despite their surroundings and circumstances. Each of them had a story about how they experienced Yolanda. The whole trip I tried to think how I would have reacted to the storm and how I would feel after and I could never imagine it. The Filipino people have experienced so much oppression throughout their history from Spain and Japan to typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanos yet they smile all the time. On the way home I was thinking about why God allowed me to grow up in America in privileged conditions and why he allowed the people I met in the Philippines to grow up there in those conditions. Yet He equally loves each of us and has the best for us? I can't wrap my mind around it, honestly. One huge thing God convicted me of is that I haven't been faithfully praying for the Filipino people like I should. Especially now after seeing their brokenness I have to be praying for them."
"This was probably the hardest mission trip I've ever been on due to the devastation Tacloban has seen due to the typhoon. There is heart wrenching devastation and loss in this community! But I feel that the town and people have hope...hope for a future, for restoration and hope in God. I was amazed at this.
The kids who came to the sports clinics were able to forget for a moment what they have been through and laugh and be active. When we first got there, I just wanted to get our hands dirty and help with the cleanup - but I realized that being with the kids and playing sports with them was just as important. We got to help them feel like kids again.
The AIA staff are doing amazing things in the Philippines and I'm so happy Totie let us be a part of it at the Leyte Sports Academy."
There are so many more pictures and memories to share from our amazing week in the Philippines. Here are just a few. Please continue to pray for Totie and the AIA ministry in the Philippines, for healing for the people of Tacloban, and that hope would continue to arise from a city that is desperately crying out for their Savior.
Mar 12, 2014
We leave for the Philippines in 3 days! We have a team of 7 people from Ohio, Arizona, California, and Colorado. We will be in Manila the first day and then head down to Tacloban where the November Typoon Haiyan hit the coast.
We have Athletes in Action volunteers there and we will be helping them with their ministry and relief work. The area is still suffering so much from loss and in the process of rebuilding. We are grateful that the Lord is allowing us to go to Tacloban and be involved in the rebuilding process.
Goals for the Trip:
-To encourage our Athletes in Action staff and volunteers in the Philippines.
-To come alongside our staff to help in their already established ministry to kids and athletes in Tacloban.
-To share the love of Christ through clinics, manual labor, trauma counseling, and ministry in the community.
-For The Filipino people as they recover from this disaster
-That we love people and each other well
-For God to use us however he wants in the lives of the people and in the lives of each other
-That many people will believe in Jesus!
We will try to keep you updated! Thanks for your prayers!
The Philippines Team
Jan 13, 2014
On the final day of the Kenya mission the team kicked off the day with some worship music, prayer and time in John 13. Jesus' words during the Last Supper regarding serving others and washing feet were read and relived as the group washed each other's feet and prayed for one another.
We had the opportunity to do some ministry at Royal Golf Club, the oldest golf course in Nairobi. After hosting a clinic and giving individual lessons, Jacob Hicks, from East Carolina University, shared his testimony and the gospel to the group at the range. Jacob's father is a PGA Tour caddie and has been on the bag for several tour victories including Payne Stewart's US Open victory at Pinehurst in 1999.
After the clinic we shared the love of Christ as we played 9 holes with the members. I (Korky Kemp, College Golf Fellowship) played with Michael Schoolcraft from our team and two members, Bernard and Hong. On the range I gave Bernard a lesson, so it was fun to go spend some time with him on the course. He is a believer in Christ, and we are at similar stages in life...both in our late 30's with three children. The Lord really blessed our time together, and as vice chairman of the club, Bernard invited the Athletes In Action team to come to Royal on club night next year so that we could have a very large audience for our program. The other player in our group, Hong, proved to be an extremely pleasant fellow to tee it up with. He was raised in Korea with a Buddhist/atheist background. God opened the door to speak with him briefly about Jesus. After the round, Hong accepted the book More Than A Carpenter that gives solid intellectual reason to believe in Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
In conclusion, thank you for your prayer and financial support of this Kenyan mission trip. God totally blessed the team beyond our wildest dreams. Our theme verse, Romans 1:16 "I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is ten power of salvation for everyone...", came to life as the Holy Spirit filled us to share the gospel proclamationally and relationally throughout our 10 days in Kenya. Hundreds of gospel seeds were sown to poorest of the poor in the Kibera slum and to the richest of the rich in the golf clubs of Nairobi. The local Kenyan AIA staff, David Nyamu, will be able to follow up with many of these connections we encountered.
Jesus Christ is living, active, and orchestrating events in the lives of people to draw them to himself. Please join us in praying for the seeds that were sown, that they would fall on good soil to grow and produce fruit. Also, please pray that the believers that we encountered would be encouraged and strengthened in their walk. Finally, pleas pray for both the AIA mission in Kenya and for our team as we transition back to normal life.
God blessed the group and this trip beyond measure. On behalf of the team, thank you for the extremely valuable part you played in advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ through this mission.
College Golf Fellowship
Watch our final video blog by clicking on the link below!