New Friendship Baptist Church (NFBC) took a passion among its youth group and used it to share the gospel to boys in Haiti through a basketball camp over the summer.
The camp was conducted in Thomazeau, Haiti, on June 10 and 11 during a week-long mission trip. Nearly 50 boys ages 10-15 years old participated in the camp, which included stations with instruction on passing, dribbling, shooting, and defense. As a part of the station rotation, boys heard the gospel shared by NFBC Associate Pastor Tony Chaudoin and youth intern Daniel Beaty.
“It was an amazing experience to share Jesus with these young men,” said Chaudoin. “I’m convinced that for many of the boys, they were hearing this message for the very first time.”
The idea for the basketball camp was born through a fundraiser event, Hoops for Haiti, which took place in March. NFBC Church members Jerry Epley and Greg Powell have coached an IMPACT Ministries basketball team since 2010 and planned to attend the mission trip to Haiti, along with youth mission team members and players Kelby Epley, Zack Fuller and Reggie Powell. IMPACT Ministry is a community outreach ministry offering sports and activities to youth. NFBC teamed with IMPACT Ministry and Renegade Reach to make this camp become a reality in Haiti.
Haiti mission team member Jerry Epley served as the coordinator for the camp on site. The church received donated equipment and materials for the camp from Fruit of the Loom, DPI, Ann Scott, Duke’s Sporting Goods and Dunham’s Sporting Goods. In addition, IMPACT Ministry’s camp sponsorship provided for repairs to the existing basketball courts in Thomaseau and the purchase of new goals.
“The atmosphere and reception we got while hosting the camp was amazing,” Jerry Epley said. “Watching the community come together to help, even with the language barrier, was overwhelming to witness the joy and love pouring from our crew to the Haitian children and the way they loved us back for what we were doing. Each day when we finished the camp and headed back to the church site, it was like a parade. The kids were cheering and running down the streets.”
Sharing the experience of playing basketball and sharing God’s Word was a meaningful experience for the youth mission team members.
“The camp was a great experience over all,” said Kelby Epley, a sophomore at Logan County High School. “It was awesome to teach the kids the game I love and then in return see them starting to show a love for basketball. My favorite part of the camp was at the end when we gave all the kids a water bottle and a packet of clean water for them to drink. But instead of drinking it, they went and threw a little party on the basketball court and busted the packets of some of their only clean water on each other to show they had a good time.”
“You never know how much of a difference it makes to a kid when you show them you love them and that the smallest things can make the biggest difference,” said Reggie Powell, a sophomore at Logan County High School.
The church plans to conduct the camp again next year.