By Maggie Roth, Communication Arts Major ’10
July 27, 2009
WENHAM, MA—Aaron Trigg ’10 never thought basketball would take him to Argentina. He also never thought basketball would provide him with an opportunity to share his Christian faith with hundreds of people.
But on May 18, Trigg joined 12 other players and two coaches as they traveled to South America to play basketball and minister to others. Led by Keith Krass, the assistant basketball coach as well as former player Ryan Smith ’04 and Silvio Vazquez ’87, former vice president of enrollment and native of Argentina, the group spent their time working in churches and leading basketball clinics. They returned to Boston two weeks later.
Trigg, a point guard and economics and business major from Overland Park, Kansas, says the trip to Argentina served several purposes. “One reason we went to Argentina was to play basketball games against some different competition and to be together as a team in another culture,” Trigg says. “More importantly, we went to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Throughout the trip the team spent time connecting with churches in San Isidro and La Rioja. They worked primarily with two congregations but also visited others and ate the majority of their meals at the churches.
Together, they held basketball clinics at local schools. The clinics varied from school to school, but most often players would visit classrooms or speak to the students on the value of education and staying in school. They also would give a short speech about their personal faith and encourage any one who had questions to connect with one of the local churches the team was working with. At some clinics the team had more than 300 people listening to the public presentations.
“The purpose of the trip—at least from our perspective—was to serve the best we could,” says Krass. “At times this meant sharing our faith or praying with people; at times this meant playing soccer and other games with the children; but most often it meant being together and sharing a meal or dessert.”
Krass says he was most impressed with the hospitality the churches offered his players. “The members of these churches just lavished us with love and served us over and over again,” he says. “There were times when people would literally give us the shirts off their backs just because they wanted to give us a gift.”
One of the most important things the players say they learned from their experience was the way they were able to use something as seemingly insignificant as basketball as an avenue for discussing Christian faith. Trigg and his teammates believe they were able to draw large crowds simply because they played basketball and were from the United States.
“While basketball was an important part of the trip, it was not the entire focus,” says Trigg. “It simply enhanced the trip and gave us a platform to speak to the people of Argentina about Christ.”
Whether it was telling personal stories or playing basketball with each other, the members of the Gordon College men’s basketball team agree that they bonded in an important way during this trip. The very nature of the trip provided numerous opportunities for the team to get to know one another better, says Krass.
“It is fun to be around a group of guys who are committed to being successful athletes and are committed Christians,” says Trigg. “We are a close-knit group and we know a lot about each other. It has been fun to be a part of the camaraderie of this group. It also doesn’t hurt that we’ve been successful on the court as well.”