BRISTOL, Tenn. – The summer is a time for rest, or for some, time to fine tune their respective games and along with that go a mission trip to another country. King University women's basketball player Amy Van Deventer decided to work on her game as well as take a trip to Nairobi, Kenya with Athletes in Action as the summer winded down.
Athletes in Action is an organization that uses sports to open doors, create connections and help people answer questions of faith and point them to Jesus. Their mission is, "To help sports-minded people think and live biblically at the intersection of sport and Christianity."
On the trip to Nairobi, Van Deventer had the opportunity to better herself on and off the court, playing eight basketball games in the 10 days they were there as well as spending time with local kids and sharing their faith. Van Deventer and the rest of the team would have clinic everyday with local kids, ranging from very young to high schoolers and university students. At these clinics, the team spent time with the kids and created connections, many of which remain intact today thanks to social media.
On their day off the Athletes in Action team visited a school in the Kibera slum in Kenya where there is a population of 2.1 million in a five mile radius, and the people are not considered citizens. There they met a volleyball team that didn't have a court or a net, they had to practice outside on a dirt court. But still the team advanced all the way to the national championship game.
The biggest thing Van Deventer took away from the trip was learning that there is much more to life that possessions we have. "You see the kids over there, they have nothing, but yet when we come and play with them, it meant everything to them," Van Deventer said.
She then went on to talk about the bond she was able to make with her teammates. "Being able to bond with my teammates that I just met a week ago, I feel like I've know them forever, and they're probably going to be my best friends for life. Being able to discover each other and myself personally and figuring out strengths, and also weaknesses that I had."
Prior to the trip, the team had the opportunity to go to an all-women's prison in Dayton, Ohio and play a game against the inmates there and share their stories. Van Deventer said when the team saw the prison game on their schedule there a little bit hesitant, but that all changed once they arrived.
"You walk in there and they tell you to not forget your number and then you hear the doors close behind you, and you're like this is real life," Van Deventer continued. "But once we got in there and all the women clapping for us and excited to see us, they gave us all high fives. We were able to sit in the stands with them and talk with them when we weren't playing, and they were very nice."
With all the stories being shared and helping teach all the local kids in Kenya, the icing on the cake for Van Deventer was that they won all their games, going 8-0 on the trip. The played against Kenyan club teams as well as some of the African University's. Their final game came against the Kenyan National Team, which no one thought they would win.
"It was a Sunday game, and all of the Kenyan people were saying 'you guys aren't going to win, they're so good,' and we ended up winning," Van Deventer said.