Rio 2015

Reflections from “Betchi”

As the group reflects individually and collectively on their time in Rio, several will be contributing personal reflections to the blog.  The first one comes from Betty Wiseman, who was affectionately called “Betchi” by the Brasilians.

Words cannot express what Belmont Women’s Basketball experienced in Rio de Janeiro these past days.  Only God could orchestrate where we served, what we were able to do, and the life-changing experiences each member of the team had.  I have led so many of these trips, but this mission tops them all!

A great big “thank you” to Brentwood Baptist Church for partnering with us to make this happen.  And, special thanks to Sharon Fairchild for helping organize, prepare and lead us on the journey.  For our team to experience, first hand, missions led by Sharon is something they will never forget.  They all grew to love and respect her for giving her life so unselfishly to others for the cause of Christ.

A special “thank you” to Kenisha Rhone, Media Relations Director for Women’s Sports in Belmont Athletics, for setting up the blog, maintaining it throughout the trip, and keeping everyone connected.   Thank you to Sarah Newbauer for her daily work in Rio, capturing the heartbeat of the ministry through photos, stories and interviews.  We are indebted to Kenisha and Sarah for helping everyone back home experience the ministry with us through the blog.  We are especially grateful to all who supported us through prayer and financial gifts.  You were valued members of our extended team.

We were blessed to work with Pastor Douglas and benefit from his many years of serving the people in so many communities through the church.  This was my third time to work with him and I was so impressed with how God is working and using him in so many ways.  He demonstrated for our team what selflessness in service looks like.  I was blown away by how organized the days were and the preparations he had made to make everything take place.  His respected presence in these favelas made our work easy.

Coach Cam and Pastor Douglas forged a special bond that was a thing of beauty to behold.  They connected on a deep level and Cam came home a changed man.  I especially enjoyed hearing Cam share a message of HOPE in the Sunday service.   It was very moving to see him become emotional to the point of tears as he brought a message on sacrifice.  His team was touched by his honestly, transparency, and humility – not a bad thing for players to experience with their coach.  Pastor Douglas gave Cam his bible following the service – a bible with both English and Portuguese translations.  These two men are bonded for life.  Cam told Douglas he would return with another team in four years to work with him. (The NCAA allows a foreign tour every four years)

I continue to be amazed at all this team did.  They loved, hugged, shared, danced, played, and gave of themselves endlessly – day after day – hour after hour – pouring into the lives of the people.  There were so many who prayed to receive Christ, beginning a relationship with Jesus that will transform their lives.  We have no way of knowing just how many and that’s okay.  God knows!  Our team members were humbled to the core and returned home – forever changed.  Everyone we worked with heard the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ.

Oh, and one more thing – we played three games against Rio women’s teams.  Each game was played in late afternoon or evening, following long hours of ministry.  We won all three games – but that was not why we were there.  I believe each member of our team would agree that games were secondary – bouncing the basketballs with the people and loving them, where they lived, was the focus!

I continue to be amazed and humbled that God can take a little round ball and people who love Him and bring love, joy, light, and HOPE into very dark places.  Belmont women’s basketball did just that these past few days.  I am blessed to have witnessed it all.