NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As most students headed home for the Winter Break last month, members of the Belmont University softball team traveled to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip with SCORE International.
The group, including coaches, spent seven days based in the city of Juan Dolio with travels around the island nation to play softball as well as engage the community through service projects and ministry. Team members intended to do all of the impacting but ended up being just as impacted by the experience.
"The choice to go to the Dominican Republic was completely orchestrated by God," said Head Coach Brian Levin. "It kind of fell into place at the perfect time. Through the prayer and support of many people we were able to take this trip. There are so many people to thank (Betty Wiseman, Athletics Director Scott Corley, Belmont athletics administration, SCORE International, Belmont's Coordinator of Academic Services & Sport Ministry Ryan Neises, family, friends, and alums) that made this happen. I am sure I have left some out that I need to thank, but it was one huge team effort. We experienced the amazing grace of God, and we will forever give Him the glory."
The travelers documented their trip with blog entries, photos and videos on social media.
At the conclusion of the mission trip, each person was invited to share about their life-changing time in the Dominican Republic. Their reflections, shared on the team's trip blog, reverberate with heartfelt faith affirmations, personal and spiritual growth and an increased desire to do even more ministry.
"My heart has been opened up even more to the love of Christ through the overwhelming joy that we have seen here in the Dominican Republic," said freshman Audrey Lyle (Westlake, Ohio). "This kind of joy is one that is present even in people living in the worst circumstances; in the children playing, in the music that fills the streets, and in the fellowship of the church we visited here."
Senior Hayley Baker (Rockwall, Texas) said that the week was, "nothing short of incredible. If I could use one word to describe the whole trip it would be LOVE. I felt so much love for my teammates and coaches, love for the people that we were serving, love for the new friends we made, and love for God."
"Since the beginning of summer, I've known that there was going to be a breakthrough this semester, but I had no idea what that looked like," said sophomore Georgia McKee (Frisco, Texas). "It's crazy – you never think as a little girl that softball will be the gateway to leading people to Christ and serving in a third world country."
"This mission trip was really impactful for our team," said Levin. "It cause these young women to get out of their comfort zone. They were forced to open up and make themselves vulnerable to their teammates which resulted in developing more meaningful relationships with one another. I think they now realize that when they fail, and in softball there is a lot of that, it doesn't matter the outcome of what they are trying to accomplish there are 18 sisters that love them when they come back to the dugout. When a person has that kind of reassurance they are more willing to take the risks that champions take to be their best.
"I was humbled how God continues to move within our team. I witnessed an accelerated transformation of our team in just one week," Levin said. "It is going to be exciting to see how much more will come from this experience."
For more information on SCORE International, click here.
For more information about Belmont Athletics Sports Ministry Trips, click here.