SHAWNEE—While the Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) women’s soccer team experienced new competition the past two weeks in West Asia and England, they also took the opportunity to partner with OBU’s Global Outreach Center in order to bring the Word to the world.
Global Outreach trips, or GO Trips, are an integral part of OBU’s mission to “integrate faith with all areas of knowledge” and “live worthy of the high calling of God in Christ.” Each participant of a GO Trip must raise the funds to go, as well as attend a full semester of orientation and training ahead of the outreach team’s trip.
The Lady Bison first had the opportunity to train with the Women’s National Team in West Asia. This created an opportunity for the OBU squad to use their talents to open a conversation about the Gospel with the national players they came in contact with. However, visiting a foreign land always comes with unique difficulties that must be overcome, not least the language barrier.
“The first day of training with the national team was very difficult,” Sam Engles, a junior, said. “The language barrier made it hard to communicate on the field but also off the field because we weren’t able to connect with them. That night, we prayed as a team that God would break down those barriers and help us reach the hearts of the players.”
That prayer was answered the next day. Though a shirt might not seem like a grandiose gesture, as Engles explains, simply giving a shirt to each member of the national team was enough to create a greater personal connection. It also opened up doors for the local church to meet the players and coaches.
“The Lord used that simple gift to bridge the gap between the two teams,” Engles said. “That day at lunch, every single player and coach from the national team wore the shirts we gave them. They continued to wear them for the rest of the week.
“This created a way for the (local workers) to start having conversations with members and coaches of the team about the gift God gave us and how much He loves us. I learned that the people of (West Asia) just want to feel love. So the fact that we came to train with them meant so much. Even though we couldn’t speak their language, we were able to show the love of Christ through our actions.”
After a week in West Asia, the Lady Bison made the long flight to England. The language barrier evaporated over the length of the flight. However, despite a greater understanding of what was being said, that didn’t necessarily mean the different cultures always clicked.
“I learned that the English are very friendly and use their sense of humor to start and build relationships,” Engles said. “Even though I didn’t understand 75 percent of the jokes they made, we were able to still connect and build relationships.”
While in England, OBU partnered with St. Andrew’s Church in Cambridge for the first couple of days. The Lady Bison took the opportunity to connect with local kids, playing futsal, a small-sided version of soccer that’s played on a court roughly the same size as a basketball court. The team also won a couple of matches against professional teams from Newcastle and Harrogate before heading back across the pond to prepare for the fall semester.
The Lady Bison were able to bring people across the globe closer to God using their God-given talents. And at the same time, the team itself was able to grow in their own relationship with Christ as they cultivated a servant’s heart.
“The trip really couldn’t have gone much better,” OBU head coach Michael White said upon the team’s return state-side. “My team served and consequently was served. While I know God will use our offerings of time, money and energy to do many wonderful things for His Kingdom in other lands, I’m even more convinced of the work He has done and is doing in me, my staff and the OBU women’s soccer team through our experiences.