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SC Soccer Players Return from Mission Trip to Kenya
June 16, 2010
During one game the soccer players had to brace the ball with stones at kick-off to keep it from rolling, and one barefooted opponent had to leave early because the rocks on the field-if a grassless space can be called that-gashed his heel open. It was not soccer at its finest, but the hugs shared between the two teams' players following the game were genuine. "Soccer is an amazing tool for ministry," said Sterling College Men's Soccer Coach Dave Underwood, who recently traveled with eight of his players to work with the sports ministry program at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Nairobi, Kenya. "If you throw a soccer ball out on any field around Nairobi, people gather. If you send a team of American players out on the field, THAT draws a crowd. Through soccer we formed friendships-and that led to more personal, more effective ministry."
Several young people from St. Andrews joined with the SC players to form a full squad, and the American/Kenyan "team" played eight matches in 10 days. After each game, both teams gathered for a time of prayer and sharing. "As a college soccer team, we represented both education and the sport, but it was important that we shared the most important thing in our lives, relationship with God through Christ. Next to that, everything else is nothing," said Coach Underwood. The Sterling College players and coach also conducted a clinic for nearly 450 kids ranging in age from four to 18. Following the training session, the SC team was able to give balls to the coaches who took their teams to the clinic. "We saw kids playing with soccer balls made from wadded-up trash bags wrapped in string," said Michael Baxter, a junior from Arlington, Wash. "It was awesome to see the coaches' faces when we handed them real soccer balls to use with their teams."
Club Azzurri and Buhler High School, both in Hutchinson, Kan., home to Jordan Getting, a sophomore on the trip, donated more than 100 balls, five sets of uniforms, 50 pairs of cleats, and other gear to be distributed during the trip. "Their generosity made our ministry that much more effective," said Coach Underwood, who also coaches a Club Azzurri team. "One email brought in a flood of donations, and we are so thankful for their support."
Underwood is also thankful for the SC players who went on the trip. "They didn't complain about anything, but there's so much more that I'm proud of them for." he said. "Not only did they form strong friendships with the Kenyans who traveled and played with us, they were incredibly open with everyone we met, from the children at the AIDS orphanage to the staff at the guesthouse where we stayed. On our last