A life of faith at Greenville College calls students to embrace a mission of evangelism and sacrifice for the furthering of the gospel and the care of others. This summer, a group of men and women from Greenville College’s basketball teams took this message of faith, compassion, and sportsmanship to San Jose, Costa Rica. For an entire week in August, twenty GC athletes and four coaches ministered to the area, using their talents for the glory of God and the service of others.
The teams partnered with Score International, an organization that utilizes sports as a way to witness to athletes around the globe. By organizing games with teams in Costa Rica, the GC players were able to fellowship with the Costa Rican players beyond the bounds of language and culture, as well as share the message of the gospel with the teams. In addition to this, the GC athletes held basketball camps for children and visited an orphanage and a single mothers’ daycare, seeking to combat the poverty, harsh living conditions, and malnutrition in the area.
Coley Baker, a member of the women’s basketball team, shares, “After each game, one of us would share our testimony and then the missionary we worked with would share the gospel in Spanish. Our prayer was that each of our stories was able to touch at least one person that was listening and also that the children we spent time with could see God's love through us.”
Many of these students originally felt out of place after stepping off the plane in Costa Rica. GC men’s basketball player Alex Mumphard admits, “The most challenging aspect of the trip was definitely the language barrier. I don't speak Spanish very well, but God remained perfect in this weakness. He allowed us to communicate and love the kids without communicating much verbally.” Despite this separation of languages, God was able to work through these students in a palpable, cross-cultural experience.
The driving force of the trip was to spread the message of salvation and love to the Costa Rican people. However, the outpouring of service that the teams participated in was not limited in its impact. GC athlete Andy Anderson describes the trip as a life- changing experience, saying, “As a team we had many chances to serve others, and a lot of opportunities for bible study and personal reflection. Our time in Costa Rica helped unite us as a team, and mold us into stronger men of God.”
The relationships formed by the players with the people of Costa Rica were also of a transformative nature for the students. Anderson describes one encounter as particularly impactful, sharing, “During our time at the daycare I had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with a little girl, and we developed a sudden friendship. The joy I saw in the girl was a reminder that the small things can make a big impact in people’s lives.”
Baker relates a similar experience, recalling, “My favorite part of the trip was getting to spend time with all the children. Being an education major, I enjoyed making them laugh, smile, and talk to them as much as I could. They had more need and desire for love and attention than food. This really opened my eyes to think about how I have way more than I need and should be thankful for what I have and complain less.”
Roy Mulholland, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, traveled along with the players to Costa Rica. He describes the goal of the trip as a means to support the Costa Rican people, aid the efforts of Score International, and encourage not only spiritual growth for the players, but also a missions-centered world view that will impact their lives beyond graduation. He states, “I think we want them to recognize that the family of God is diverse. God's family is different from most of ours in that we do not all look the same. God is alive and well and actively working in lives all over the world.”