Jackson, Tenn. - 10/25/2002 - By Allison Lynn, Cardinal & Cream, Union University Student Writer
Ministry Opportunities Arise through Basketball, Player ministers through basketball, Abakwue experiences a Life changing summer
Chima Abakwue, a junior education major, desired a changed heart, which is exactly what he received.
The Union University basketball player spent a portion of his summer doing basketball ministry with Athletes in Action.
Abakwue was part of a 12-member team made up of players from across the United States that traveled to the Fiji Islands and New Zealand for two weeks of basketball camps.
When they were not playing basketball, they were walking the streets and handing out pamphlets, which contained information about how to become a Christian.
“We stretched our ministry as far as possible,” Abakwue said. “Most people wanted to talk to us because we were basketball players. When they asked how we were able to play and become good at basketball, we were able to tell them about our strength in our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
During the July 6 to Aug. 1 trip, New Zealand’s elections were taking place. Abakwue commented that this was an imperative time for the country because one of the candidates running for office was an atheist, and only few churches existed because of the heavy influence of atheism.
“This task was way bigger than us,” Abakwue said, concerning the rejection to the church.
Abakwue also expressed the importance of his team’s mission.
“You never know whose life you’re saving. You’re giving them the greatest gift of all,” he said. “You’ve got to know yourself before you can relate to others.”
Conditions in the Fiji Islands and New Zealand were not ideal.
“The scenery was beautiful, but it is not like it looks on TV,” Abakwue said. “Most of the children wore the same outfit everyday to camp and most didn’t even have shoes.”
Abakwue discovered this opportunity to minister through basketball from his high school basketball coach and from David Niven, assistant basketball coach at Union, who also participated in Athletes in Action when he played for Oklahoma Baptist University.
“It was a great opportunity for Chima to minister not only to the people in the Fiji Islands and New Zealand, but also he can bring what he learned to the people back here at Union,” Niven said.
“I would encourage anyone who is interested in sports to get involved,” Abakwue said.
“I wanted to be a different person when I walked off that plane, and I was,” he said. “This experience was beyond a mountain top experience. The trip has kept my fire going."
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