Sports Evangelism to Equip Disciples (SEED) is an immersion trip opportunity offered to student-athletes at Hope College. Through this trip, athletes are able to travel to locations such as Africa or Costa Rica to share their love for sports and Jesus. According to SEED’s website, the group’s mission is “to equip Hope College student-athletes to serve as disciples who share the Good News of Jesus Christ through sport.” While on the trip, athletes are mixed up with members of other sports, creating a unique group to serve. Paige Wilmer (’21) traveled to Choma, Zambia this past summer. While in Zambia, she and her team, composed of other student-athletes and coaches, worked to run sports camps, share Scripture and install water filters in the local community.
“Personally, my main goal was to have an open mind about the trip, become close to those on my team and hopefully grow in my faith,” Wilmer said. “I can safely said all of these things were met.” A typical day for Wilmer and her team began around 9 a.m., when community members came to attend sports camps. While at the camps, those attending, usually aged 12 to 30, visited a variety of stations with themes such as first aid, nutrition, speed, agility and strength conditioning. Messages from Scripture were also shared with the players, as well as knowledge about American sports, such as volleyball, dodgeball and softball. After a day at the sports camps, SEED members had the opportunity to visit the homes of some of the children. “These were really interesting because we got to see their village and meet their families,” Wilmer said. After a day of serving, members had the opportunity to reflect on their days at the camp. During the night, the team spent time playing games, worshipping or “having slab time, where we went out to the slab on the base and looked at the stars and talked,” Wilmer said.
Nighttime activities gave team members the opportunity to form stronger relationships with one another. “We all became close after the first few days after we shared our testimonies and we all clicked so well together,” Wilmer said. “Multiple nights in Zambia we would stay up until 2 a.m. laughing and talking.” In addition to service through sport, the team in Zambia installed water filtration devices for families in the community. The devices were provided by the company Sawyer, which sponsored the group’s trip. “We got to teach about Jesus when we installed them as well, which was super cool,” Wilmer said. “We talked about how our lives are dirty because of our sin like the water before it is filtered. But then, when we pass through the filter (Jesus), our lives become more clean and pure” One of Wilmer’s favorite parts of the trip was seeing God’s work in the lives of children across the world. “The children in Zambia have challenging lives,” Wilmer said. “I spoke to many kids who testified that both of their parents are dead, or they watched their mom/dad die, or they are homeless or abused. Yet their love for Jesus and the faith they have in Him is inspiring.” During the two weeks, Wilmer learned many lessons through her service. “I was humbled by the experience,” Wilmer said. “I realized how much I have to be thankful for like stability, security, a loving family and opportunities in life that will hopefully take me far. I [also] realized how happy people are with little material possessions, which changed my perspective on [the] materialistic values I place on unimportant things.”