Saturday, June 20, 2009

A View From The Stands

By Chris Easterling

I have spent the past three seasons sitting in the stands watching Andrew Lovedale play the game of basketball. His hard work and determination were evident each trip down the court. But nothing that I saw from Andrew on the court compares to what I was fortunate to “Witness” in Nigeria. His heart is that of a “Big Cat."

To see the pride in Andrew’s face as he led simple games or when the new basketball goals were raised on the court on which he played his first games. He has a vision to help the people of Nigeria fulfill their own dreams, and with his desire I see it happening. I was honored to play a small part and look forward to assisting Andrew in the future.

Benin City and Lagos are similar cities only different in the number of people moving around. From sun up to sun down there is activity in the streets from the street side vendors to the small business shops that fill the surrounding buildings. With the amount of poverty which the team witnessed you would think there would be more beggars holding “Will work for food” signs. Instead my feeling was most wanted to do something no matter how large or small to earn a living.

I was told from a financial standpoint there was an upper class and lower class but I was not prepared for the huge divide. The living conditions in some areas were unbelievable with trash lining the roads and waterways. The mission team’s focuses were in those places, the small villages and impoverish areas.

This is where the church pastors and lay leaders have set up churches and schools to care for the children. These dwellings are simple one room, open buildings but are filled with positive messages of hope and love. The teachers are the true heroes with the responsibility to help change lives.

The process of giving out shoes was the most humbling part. Sitting face to face with children and adults, touching them both physically and spiritually while at the same time yourself being touched by their gratitude. I will never forget the impact the simple gesture of giving someone a pair of socks and shoes can have. The smiles and laughter of the children will resonate in my mind forever.

This experience touched me more than I expected. Even with the incredible conditions in which most people live, there is a spirit of hope and strong faith that God will provide. There are those that want to help and will be there to carry out the mission which the team began.

And I left there with a new group of friends that will be forever linked together because of this journey. All with different beliefs and reasons for going, but who all were touched in some positive way. These will be my most cherished friends.

I know this will not be the last time the Davidson family will be moved to help, and I look forward to the opportunity to be there when it happens. Watching Davidson basketball games from my seat in the stands will never be the same.

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