NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Earlier this summer, 11 Belmont student-athletes and administrators traveled to Africa for a 10 day mission trip to Nakuru, Kenya.
During their stay in Africa, they worked with a local ministry, Streets of Hope. Streets of Hope provides former street boys with a home, food, education, Christ-centered spiritual guidance, medical care and hope.
For the next several weeks, BelmontBruins.com will be posting personal reflections from the student-athletes and administrators who took part in the trip.
Our next reflections come from Kevin McClain and Dylan Windler of the men's basketball team.
Before going on this trip, I was going through something where I didn't like connecting with anyone. I was feeling like, everyone was for themselves and I struggled with small things such as talking. Sometimes I would process words to speak and snatch them right back because in my head, I'd be telling myself. What do they care? Why waste your breath? So the less human interaction I had with people was way too okay with me. Not to realize all this was ever doing was putting myself in a box. I had to ask myself. What's my use to God if lock myself in box? How do I spread his love in a box? How can I be a shoulder to lean on in a box? How can I be of some guidance in a box? You can't! You must be taken outside that box, vulnerable yes, but functional as well. So I decided to take myself outside my box so that God could use me however needed on this mission trip. He did just that and while doing so my eyes have been opened to many things. It'd be easy to box myself in again, to be comfortable, but being vulnerable is good for you and I want God to use me to my full potential.
It feels like just yesterday we were gathering around the conference table at Belmont for our first pre trip meeting, looking around the room at all the unfamiliar faces and you could sense the awkwardness in the room. Other than seeing each other around campus, no one really knew anyone other than the people on their own team. The first thing Jordan asked us to do was to share our life stories with one another. When he said this, you could literally see the fear in some of our faces. This isn't something you normally get asked to do, especially in front of a group of people you hardly know. Not only was this a great way to get to know one another, it forced us to open up and not be afraid to what others would think. After this, with finals and the semester finishing up, days turned into weeks and we were boarding the plane before we could even take a moment to breathe.
Never did I imagine the game of basketball taking me into the heart of Nakuru, Kenya. What a blessing it was. Meeting the people and boys of Streets of Hope was an experience of a lifetime that many people don't get a chance to do. Going into the trip, we reminded ourselves that we aren't bringing God to Kenya and the boys of Streets of Hope. God is already there, we are just going to spread his light and share his love. After meeting all the boys and their caretakers, it was pretty obvious that God was already there doing special things with these boys. I was blown away by the way these young boys and men carried themselves. They were always first to welcome you with a hand shake and walk you home when you were done. They had the utmost respect for their caretakers and were thankful for everything they are given. You can imagine how hard it could be to take a boy off the streets who has had nearly no parental guidance his entire life and turn them into a respectful young man in no time. To be honest, I think it would be nearly impossible without the teachings of God's word. Streets of Hope does not only give these kids a place to live and food to eat, they give these boys a relationship with Jesus, the most valuable relationship you can have.
A trip like this reminds you of what is truly important in life. Material possessions and social media followers are not what make a person truly happy. That happiness will eventually run out. A life full of happiness comes from a relationship with God. It's easy to say something like this, but it's harder to truly believe it. After this trip, it's something that is evident to me. Seeing the pure happiness that these boys have with the things they are given is truly mind blowing. They don't have cell phones. They don't have video games. They don't have social media. These are all just distractions that we face everyday, keeping us from a real relationship with God. As much as we may have impacted these boys over the duration of our trip, I think I can speak for everyone by saying they impacted us just as much, if not more.
Seeing God's light shine halfway across the world is something beautiful that not a lot of people get the chance to witness first hand. The relationships I made with my fellow student athletes and group leaders are ones that will last a lifetime. Kenya was a huge stepping stone for my faith moving forward and I can't wait to see what God has in store for me next.