Rams basketball offering “Hoop for Hope” to youngsters
By Bob Holmes
Jalen Brinson is more than a Columbia International University Rams basketball player. During the annual Hoop for Hope CIU Basketball Camp, Brinson called himself “a big brother” and “good friend” to the young campers on campus July 20-23.
“On behalf of all the players, we’re here for you guys off and on the court,” is Brinson's message to over 100 campers, comprised of 10-16 year-old boys and girls from the neighborhoods near the CIU campus.
“It’s really fun. It’s a great experience for us to connect with them,” Brinson said adding that helping them “to get to know Jesus is a real blessing for us and I think for them, as well.”
As the campers hone their basketball skills with drills and games, they also huddle in small group Bible studies, and gather corporately to listen to devotionals from local church leaders such as Associate Pastor James White of First Northeast Baptist Church. White challenged the campers to think about eternity when he brought up the name of professional basketball great Kobe Bryant who died in a helicopter crash in 2020.
“Eternal life is only found if you confess Jesus as Lord,” White said preaching on a theme of “Real Love” and noting 1 John 4:9.
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
“Tomorrow is not promised,” White said. “Choose God. Choose real love.”
And that’s what CIU Head Basketball Coach Tony Stockman says this free camp, that even includes a bus service to pick up the campers, is all about.
“Our basketball program takes pride in being involved in the community,” Stockman said. “We are called to serve and use basketball as our ministry. Here at Columbia International University, it is our motto ‘To Know Him and to Make Him Known,’ and we want to use basketball to share the gospel."