ETBU fishing team ministers in Amazon region
By Special to the News-Journal
Jan. 19, 2018 at 11:49 p.m.
East Texas Baptist University bass fishing team members used their fishing skills in a different way this month, when members traveled to Brazil as a part of the Tiger Athletic Mission Experience program.
ETBU worked with Amazon Outreach, an organization that works directly with Brazilian missionaries to spread the Gospel to the people of the Amazon River region.
"The members of the bass team that traveled with us to Brazil have exceeded my expectations throughout the entire trip. Removing technology from our day-to-day lives allowed us to focus on the people of the Amazon and grow spiritually," said ETBU head bass fishing coach Cameron Burger. "Each member stepped outside of their comfort zone, whether that was handing out eyeglasses, working in the pharmacy, sharing the Gospel with someone or giving their testimony."
A boat served as the home for team members, where they ate, slept in hammocks, practiced fishing and traveled the Rio Negro and Amazon River ministering to nine villages along the way. The team began each day with worship on the boat with translators and crew members. The student-athletes ministered door-to-door, helped in the medical and dental clinic, assisted with the eyeglass ministry and hosted vacation Bible schools.
"This trip was eye opening, from experiencing another culture to spreading the love of God," said Jared Penton, ETBU junior accounting major. "It was rewarding to see the different ways in which God was working through the team and the villagers."
The ETBU bass fishing team was able to meet a need of the people by transporting equipment and building a water well in the center of the village of Santa Maria. The group also spent several days assisting with a construction project, which consisted of making concrete mortar and plastering it to a brick structure in the village of Monte Moria.
"Being used by God to answer the prayers of the villagers made this trip amazing," said Brett Clark, ETBU sophomore business administration major. "The way God moves in the people and in the missionaries is something special. This was a humbling experience for me and one that I will never forget."
After ministry each day, the team enjoyed fishing, swimming in the river and soccer games with the Brazilians. Every evening, the team attended the village's church service and took part in the Lord's Supper. ETBU Graduate student Zach Ervin led worship, and many members of the group from ETBU shared their testimonies with the various congregations.
"I cannot put into words the experiences these guys and I shared this week while on the Amazon," said ETBU Vice President for Athletics Ryan Erwin. "I am beyond proud of every one of them for giving up part of their winter break, their willingness to grow and share their faith, and working to use their God-given talents and abilities to transform the lives of the people they encountered during their time in Brazil."
The trip to Brazil was the fourth Tiger Athletic Mission Experience. In March, Head volleyball coach Keely Peterson will be taking her team to Serbia. The team will be staying with ETBU alumni missionaries Trey and Randi Israel. The university says Tiger Athletic Mission Experience provides ETBU student-athletes "the opportunity to use their God-given athletic talents as a platform to connect with people and share the Gospel of Jesus around the world." To follow all of the upcoming trips, visit https://tigerathleticmissionexperience.tumblr.com/.