Sharing Life Through Soccer
The idea for the trip began in May 2017, when Bethel’s Head Men’s Soccer Coach Thiago Pinto ’05, ’07 and Assistant Coach Jason Freeman, went on a trip to Asia and visited Jorge* ’10 (a former Bethel team captain). After that, the three began praying about how to take a team there.
“God really orchestrated the trip and events that transpired,” Pinto says.
The summer 2018 travels began with a soccer clinic and continued on to the city where Jorge and his wife Caron ’09** are serving. For more than two years, Jorge has been coaching a team of boys under the age of 15. The Bethel group ran practices and clinics with these boys. They also visited orphans and experienced first-hand the project in the prison that Jorge has started.
Soccer is a fun social activity that doesn’t require the players to speak the same language, making it a perfect tool for connecting with kids no matter their language or background. Plus, it’s a world sport, Pinto says.
The trip impacted not just the kids they worked with, but the Bethel students and coaches, too.
“God did some pretty incredible things over the last few weeks in my life, the lives of my teammates, and the lives of those we encountered along our journey,” Freeman says.
On the last day of the trip, five of Bethel’s players made a renewed commitment to fully surrender and live for God, and three decided to be baptized.
“I finally fully understand what it means to be a part of something bigger than myself. This trip taught me that soccer is something that can connect people of all races and religions no matter the language barrier,” says junior Isaac Nunez.
*Last name removed to protect his privacy.
**Read the Alumni in Focus feature about Jorge and Caron Marquez, Bethel’s 2018 Young Alumni award recipients this year here.