For one Tabor College employee, his love for basketball and God were combined into one opportunity to serve.
Bruce Jost, director of student financial services and a 1997 graduate of Tabor, recently traveled to Kryvh Rih, Ukraine, to minister through basketball with a group of 10 men from the United States.
According to Jost, this trip was a first in many ways. It was his first international trip-besides traveling to Canada-and it was his first mission trip that he was allowed to openly share testimony.
“It is just hard for me to imagine any of that trip going better than it did,” he said. “On the basketball front, on the ministry front, on the traveling front-it was many new experiences for me that all went great.”
While in Ukraine, the men played university teams and one professional team. Before the game, during halftime and after the game, the men their personal testimonies of Christian faith.
“It was designed that we would go and play these games and then at halftime we would share our testimonies,” Jost said. “After the games we would pass out the gospel of John in Russian and try to meet and greet as many people as we could.”
In addition to the basketball games, Jost said they also found other avenues through which they could share their faith.
The group visited two orphanages and spoke to them about their faith as well as to promote clean living. They also visited several university English classes where students could ask questions about the United States as well as the team members.
“That was just another opportunity to get in there, and if God opened the doors for faith to be brought up, then we could do so,” Jost said.
One purpose of the trip was to be a “seed planter” in an area of need. Jost said the group passed out at least 600 flyers that contained the gospel in Russian as well as short testimonies from each player in hopes that people would make a decision about Christ.
“It’s hard to know exactly what you accomplish, but you trust that seeds were planted,” Jost said. “We did witness about 20 commitments for Christ and who knows how many other seeds we planted, so it was a success in that sense.”
Jost said that if given the opportunity to repeat the experience, he would definitely return to the Ukraine.
“For a lot of us, the Ukraine wasn’t something we usually thought of in our daily life, but it’s not something I’ll likely forget after being on that trip and meeting the people,” he said.
In addition to Jost, three other Tabor alumni, Bryce Wichert, Hillsboro, Phil Goertzen, Fresno, Calif., and Kyle Fast, Fresno, also made the trip.
The ministry was loosely associated with Sports Ambassadors and OC International and was also in conjunction with a youth-ministry program in Kryvh Rih called The Shelter.
The Shelter is a place for the youth of Kryvh Rih to get away from negative influences, such as drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, and receive positive influences from members of the shelter. The Shelter provides activities such as aerobics, English and art classes and Sunday church services.