Soccer Mission Report
By Melissa McCutchan
CIU Student Writer
For members of the Columbia International University men’s soccer team, the off-season looks a little different than it does for many teams. After they finished an impressive fall season with an 11-5-2 record, they prepared for a new adventure: an eight-day ministry trip to Guatemala over the break between semesters.
The team hosted soccer clinics for children, visited terminally ill children at a cancer hospital, and even did a little construction work — all the while sharing the gospel wherever they went.
“We were able to love on a lot of kids who don’t have a lot of love in their lives,” defender and junior Ethan Chandler told the student body during a soccer team presentation at the first CIU Chapel of the Spring semester.
The team was even able to share the gospel on a horseback riding trip, with two Guatemalans putting their faith in Christ.
“It was cool to see how something so fun could end up in someone crossing from death to life,” goalkeeper and sophomore Luke Brooks said.
In addition, the team played soccer matches against a few professional Guatemalan teams.
“The score definitely didn’t turn out in our favor, but it was a blessing to be able to gather with those guys [afterward] and share our testimonies with them,” Head Coach James Whitaker said.
A couple of needy local families were blessed by the athletes as the team constructed two single-room houses – what Whitaker described as metal-framed sheds, but housing that is an improvement over what they had been living in.
“We were blessed to have our eyes opened to all we take for granted here in the U.S.,” Whitaker said.
This was the first mission trip for a CIU athletic team since intercollegiate athletics began at CIU in 2012, and Whitaker was pleased.
“We went there with the idea we wanted to love and share the gospel with these people, but we were the ones who ended up being blessed,” Whitaker said.