Jamaican' me play soccer?

March 31, 2014 | 11 a.m.

Ministry, service and soccer at the center of men's spring break trip

Sports | Laura Jahnke for The Clarion


Along with playing games against local teams while in Jamaica, the men's soccer team did ministry work, including visiting a school for deaf children. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Bethel Men's Soccer

The Bethel University men’s soccer team left early Saturday morning on the first day of spring break to travel to Montego Bay, Jamaica to share their love of soccer and Jesus Christ. Partnering with the organization Team Jamaica, they used soccer as a ministry tool in a variety of venues including a surgical ward, an infirmary, an orphanage, a boys and girls club and a number of public schools.

The team visited sites where they led worship, prayed and shared their testimonies to children and adults alike, but a majority of their service activities centered around children. The simple faith of a child was contagious for the team. As junior Jeremy Tan explained, “Their excitement, enthusiasm, joy and ability to quickly love others is something that can and should be transferable to the Christian life.”

“The most impactful moment on the trip was the school for the deaf,” junior Tim Ness said. “This was an experience that I will never forget.” Multiple members of the team agreed with Ness, citing the school for the deaf as a trip highlight.

According to junior Nathan Brubaker, this was an experience that took everyone out of their comfort zones. Since the students were deaf, the men had to find other ways to form relationships. Brubaker described their experience communicating with the children.

“The barriers fell down,” Brubaker said. “By the time it was time to leave, nobody wanted to go. We had all made new friends there. The kids at that school shared so much joy with everyone on our team.”

“They were still laughing even if they couldn’t hear themselves laugh,” senior Chris Scott said. “They made sounds of pure joy.”

One of the goals of the trip was for each person to uncover how their individual roles unite to form a team that can both play soccer and do ministry together. They recognized that they are each members doing different work toward one common goal.

“As a team, we were able to see each others' strengths and weaknesses,” junior Matt Pisarski said. “We all have a different skill set that was seen throughout the trip. Everyone contributed in their own way. As a team, it is important to see that we are a single unit, but many parts create that one unit.”

The Royals had the opportunity to play five games throughout the week against local teams, aiming to form relationships with locals and strengthen team chemistry. The men used these soccer games as a chance to reach out to the residents, and they ended each game with group prayer. One particular game stuck out to the group due to the fellowship that followed.

“We were sitting at a table at dinner with the soccer team from Montego Bay Community College after our game with them,” said Pisarski. “They are the same as us; just guys that love hanging out with each other, playing soccer, and attending classes just like us.” Through this trip, the team was able to notice the similarities between Jamaicans and Minnesotans.

The Bethel men’s soccer team witnessed God’s global mission. “God is everywhere in this world,” Ness said. “Before, it never really hit me that God is everywhere we go. God has been in Jamaica and we're seeing what God was doing there and helping people see it.”

The men were challenged spiritually, socially, athletically and personally. They overcame these challenges to find unity in Jesus Christ.

“I'm blessed to be a part of this group of young men who are learning how to be soccer players and serve the Lord,” Brubaker said.


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