From September 9-19, Kelly Combs, Carl Lanham, and I traveled to Zimbabwe to put on several basketball camps. We worked with Albert and Captain from Smile for Africa and David and Hudson from After School Hoops. The trip was broken up into two sections. The first part was in and near the city of Mutare, a mountainous town near the Mozambique border. The camps were mostly in the rural parts, a couple of hours outside of this city. We would meet at a school and several schools in the area would bring kids over to learn basketball at our camp. We also helped the teachers learn how to teach the game. The schools often had bad or nonexistent courts and hoops. We had hundreds of kids at each camp, so it was challenging but very impactful. Besides our stations of skills, we would also have a station that taught life skills, which were Christian principles. At this station, we shared our testimonies and the Gospel. One of our Zimbabwe partners, Albert, was excellent at sharing the Gospel and translating for us when needed. Hundreds indicted that they wanted to follow Christ! At the end of each camp, we gave out basketballs and soccer balls to the teachers to take back to their schools. Each teacher took 2-4 balls back which was huge as most schools did not have any balls at all for the kids to practice with. We brought 200 basketballs and 200 soccer balls with us to give away.
After four days in the Mutare area, we drove to the second-biggest city in the country, Bulawayo. Here, we also met up with some basketball coaches that Kelly knew through Athletes in Action. It was great to meet them and introduce them to our contacts so that they could hopefully work together on projects in the future and help disciple kids and coaches. In Bulawayo, we did not travel outside the city as much but still worked with many kids that are having to fight against a major drug epidemic. We put on another four camps and our biggest coaching clinic.
At the end, we headed to Victoria Falls to relax before we headed home. Once we left, our contacts put on a camp in Victoria Falls for over 100 kids and gave away our remaining balls. In total, we were able to put on eight camps and clinics, work with over 1300 people (1400 if you count the Victoria Falls camp), give away 400 balls, and have 635 indications to follow Christ. This was a great first trip, and we pray God will continue to let us find ways to support our contacts and grow His Kingdom in Zimbabwe. God’s glory!
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