By Kristen Williams / East Texas Baptist University
Two dozen student athletes, coaches and other representatives from East Texas Baptist University led sports camps and learned about biblical history during a recent trip to Israel.
The ETBU men’s basketball team—along with coaches, a trainer, faculty and staff—journeyed to Israel May 15-26 as part of the Tiger Athletic Mission Experience program.
The group toured biblical sites, studied Scripture and history, volunteered, led sports camps and competed against international basketball teams.
“The Lord has drawn us in closer to him by allowing us to know more personally the man, Jesus Christ,” Head Coach Brandon Curran said. “Seeing the towns, villages and synagogues where Jesus taught and healed brought the Scriptures to life.”
From Nazareth to Jerusalem, the group traced the life of Jesus. At each site, the team read, reflected and responded to the biblical passages corresponding to the landscape.
“Our visits to the physical places Jesus lived, ministered, died and rose again allowed us to further understand the immense sacrifice he willingly endured for each one of us,” freshman Westin Riddick said.
“We were reminded that no matter color, culture or past, God loves and desires a relationship with all people. The experience of worshipping as a group will forever be stamped in my memory, because of the joy in my heart as we proclaimed together the name of Jesus and celebrated that the grave is empty. He is alive. We are set free.”
The ETBU men’s basketball team competed against Ironi Natanya U18 in Natanya and National U20 at Ramat Gan. Regardless of the language barrier, the teams connected on the court.
The team also partnered with a local community center to lead a basketball camp for children.
“I am so thankful for all we learned and experienced on the trip to Israel,” senior Davis Robinson said. “The most significant challenge that the Lord placed on my heart is to be more aware of his prompting and move when he asks.
“Throughout the week, God repeated to me, ‘This is the land I chose and where Christ walked, but I am no further from you where I have placed you.’ He has reminded me that his Spirit lives in me wherever I go. Returning home, I am encouraged knowing that God is near and loves us all through every season.”
The trip to Israel marked the sixth Tiger Athletic Mission Experience, which provides student-athletes opportunities to use their talents as a platform to connect with people and share the gospel.
The ETBU women’s basketball team will travel to Jamaica in early August for the next TAME trip, under the direction of Head Coach Rusty Rainbolt.