The country of Mexico doesn’t normally come up when American tackle football is discussed, but for eight members of the North Greenville University football team, it became the medium through which they were able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to children in Queretaro, Mexico.
Eight Crusaders and Jim Bates, NGU Associate Campus Minister, and Jamie Farnham, an assistant football coach at Blue Ridge High School, who is a junior education major at NGU, made the journey south of the border March 5-13 during their spring break. Mark Smith (Greer, SC), Jordan Floro (Dublin, OH), Richard Harb (Knoxville, TN), Johnathon Moore (Columbia, SC), Mychal Cannon (Greenwood, SC), and Jamarius Robinson (Edgemoor, SC) were the players on the trip to Queretaro, which is located nearly 200 miles northwest of Mexico City.
The NGU mission team worked directly with an American Football Club in Queretaro known as the Zorros, which has teams for children ages 6-18. The schedule for the group was very flexible, but on the agenda were coaches’ clinics and leading practices for the Mexican teams. Each morning, the NGU group went to public schools and led seminars on how sports and education intertwined. A select squad of the Crusader players led students in football drills outside while another group led the seminars inside.
Presented with the opportunity, the football players spoke at the Autonomous University of Queretaro (UAQ), a public college, and taught their team drills as well. Some of the other activities Bates, Farnham and the Crusader athletes took part in included going to an orphanage, meeting with the parents of the Zorros organization during which they shared more about football, as well as a Gospel presentation.
North Greenville’s football missionaries also attended a house church at the home of Steve and Laura Young, IMB missionaries in Querétaro. They were also able to be part of a college Bible study at Steve’s and Laura’s during the week.
An elated Bates stated after the trip, “We are determining right now how we can continue the partnership with the people in Queretaro in the future. It was a hectic week, but a productive time where we laid a good foundation for future ministry. God provided so much for us during the trip. We were blessed with the help of two young ladies, Giovana and Alma Rose, who served as our translators. The depth and level of service that God gave us was truly amazing. The Zorros provided us with transportation during the week so that we didn’t have to pay for taxis or scramble around getting from one place to the other. Also, some of the guys got a bit sick, but God took care of that as well. The Zorros called a doctor to come see the guys, and we never saw a bill.”
Even though American football may not be the most popular sport in Mexico, for the North Greenville University football mission group, sharing Jesus with the people of Queretaro was much more vital than teaching passing, blocking or running for touchdowns.