Highlands Blog: “More Than Basketball” with Athletic Director Jim Good
The year was 1998. My friend and mentor Reg Cook introduced me to a brand new arena—missions. My initial thoughts of missions and missionaries included third-world countries, remote tribes in Africa or the Amazon, Indians, digging wells, and starving children. Your list may be similar. I have since realized, however, that missions is simply sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ! It’s amazing that He allows us to use our gifts and talents to accomplish this. He can even use a game like basketball.
Reg encouraged me to take a missions trip with SCORE International. SCORE stands for Sharing Christ Our Redeemer Everywhere. Their purpose is to share the good news of Jesus Christ, and their main focus in doing this is through athletic teams and coaches that travel overseas to help with events, camps, and clinics.
As a 23 year old, I had the privilege of leaving the United States for the first time and playing basketball in Budapest, Hungary. That was a life-changing week for me as I experienced how big God really is! The following year, I traveled again with SCORE to Buenos Aries, Argentina. Once again, I was able to play basketball overseas, and I also coached a high school team. I remember the look on the children’s and teen’s faces as we showed up to play in these games. They were more than excited to watch and interact with the American players. I remember signing autographs and even giving a teenage boy my Iverson Reebok sneakers. I remember stumbling through my personal testimony as it was my first time communicating through a translator. I came back to the States changed and challenged, and this is when my wife and I began to financially support missionaries. I remember praying and promising God I would one day take my family and the “right team” on a missions trip.
This past year, I knew the timing was finally just about right. During my senior year of college, I had met Coach Dave Bintz, now the Sports Camp Director at L’Arcada, just outside of Barcelona, Spain. For the past several years, he encouraged me to bring my basketball team on a summer or spring break missions trip. This year, my oldest son Jimmy is a sophomore, and his teammates are more than just players to my wife and me. They are our family. Several come over to our house to eat Wednesday dinner and then attend youth group at Grace. Oftentimes they just hang out and play 2K or Fort-nite. One day I even came home and watched my wife helping two of the boys with their homework.
Yes, this was the right time and the right team!
The trip became a reality the week of March 23-30. God put the theme of More than Basketball on our hearts, and that’s exactly what this trip was! With less than 1% of the population in Spain claiming to be Evangelical Christians, our mission was to be a shining light for Christ. We participated in four goodwill games with local high school club teams, developed relationships, and invited the Spanish players to the L’Arcada Basketball Camp in June—where they will be introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the relationship we can have with Him.
Our team also spent two days working at the camp: cutting the grass, mopping floors, sweeping walkways and paths, and cleaning many areas. We toured the city of Barcelona and saw the 1992 Olympic stadium, visited Camp Nu where Club Barcelona played their home soccer games, enjoyed the pica-pica (an evening snack) after every game with the Spanish players, visited the breathtaking Mediterranean Sea, and spent time with the L’Arcada staff members who love Jesus and serve Him with their whole heart.
I would like to personally thank all of you who prayed for us on this trip and the ones who were able to financially support us. Words cannot adequately express the gratitude I have in my heart for your prayers and generosity.
On behalf of my wife, Jimmy, Jack, Scott, Lori, Ryan, Ashley, Nate, Baker, Alex, James, Sean, and Malik, we say Gracias!