The goals achieved during Temple Baptist Church’s July 2019 mission trip to east Asia far exceeded those recorded on a basketball scoreboard. Thirty hours of basketball activities might have been the most visible aspect of the trip, but throughout the event, God worked in a variety of ways with both the travelers from Ruston, La., and the residents of the local area.
The team departed a land where Bibles and churches abound and landed in a place where worship of idols and the smell of incense dominates the culture. The evangelical Christian presence among the people they served is merely .1% or simply put, one in a thousand.
While the basketball camps were designed for youngsters of middle-school and high-school ages, encouraging and supporting all Christians in the area was a key aim. Beyond the 30 hours of sports instruction, the ultimate goal of Temple’s group was to share the Gospel with people they met. Kathryn Maxwell spoke of “how special the Family of God really is. We can instantly connect and love strangers because of our unity in Christ.”
The gospel message meant much to students whose culture Jessie P. described as expecting them “to reach the standard of perfection and to fit a cookie-cutter mold.” By sharing her own struggles in life, through a translator she helped the girls that she instructed to know about the freedom that she had gained in Jesus Christ.
Despite language differences, interaction with local people extended far beyond organized activities. Maxwell said: “I quickly realized the children do not need words to communicate because love is universal. We played, laughed, smiled, and quickly became a family. You do not need a long, inspiring conversation to show God’s love. This can easily be proven through your actions.” Jason Walsworth added that the trip was “a great reminder of how big our God is and that He is working in areas we have no idea exist in the lives of His servants and through the family of God.”
Larry C., another participant from Temple, was touched by the intensity of worship at the home of a local believer. “We read the Word, sang songs, prayed, spoke and cried together,” he said – a time when others in the group also felt the Lord’s strong presence.
Temple’s participants returned to Louisiana with an awareness of the need to be more intentional in sharing the Gospel, a reminder of how God works in ways unknown to people, and an appreciation of their blessings from God.