June 01, 2006

My Closing Thoughts

plc_destri_testify.jpgIt is difficult to write my closing thoughts on this mission journey to Venezuela. Processing is not easy while making the adjustment back to work and my real world. I find words difficult to describe. My thoughts are in the form of pictures: pictures of schools, crowds, faces, concrete courts, bent basketball goals with no nets, blistering hot sunshine, makeshift houses of tin, hunger, and barren land. I see contrasts of rich and poor with no in-between. And, I see thirteen Belmont students connecting with people of all ages through the language of love. There is laughter, smiles, hugs, tears, high fives, handshakes, and touches. I see God at work bringing together two countries, not through politics or religion, but through a relationship. There are no barriers, no hidden agendas, no egos, no power struggles. There is only the love of Christ being demonstrated and proclaimed through the platform of basketball.

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May 24, 2006

On the radio in Venezuela

On two different occasions, Betty was invited to be interviewed by local radio stations. The audio file on this post is a recording of the first interview, captured just before a day of ministry in Maturin. The interviewer struggled a little to ask his questions in English and explained that he would have to translate both his questions and Betty's responses for air play purposes.

betty_interview.jpgListen to Betty Wiseman's Radio Interview (MP3 - 14 Minutes))

The second interview, pictured on the left, happened at courtside during our last day of ministry in Porta La Cruz... a session that we weren't even sure would happen since most of the students left the campus after a day of testing. The young man in the red shirt is Samuel, one of the translators who worked closely with the entire team. The gentleman picturedon the far right with Betty and Samuel broadcasted Betty's message live via a remote telephone hook-up.

(Story uploaded June 2, 2006)

May 21, 2006

“There’s a party going on….”

The ScottsPaul and Shelley’s two youngest children, Sydney (10) and Josey (8) came to the airport with their Mom and Dad to greet us. They soon became family. Their oldest son, Jordan, is a student at Union University in Jackson. He finished his freshman year while we were in Venezuela and flew home for the summer, joining our team on Tuesday evening in La Cruz. It was a special treat to spend time with the entire Scott family.

Josey and Sydney were with us for evenings and then joined us on Saturday morning as we traveled to Anaco and La Cruz for the second week of work. Josey was everywhere! He loved playing with the basketballs and enjoyed riding in the vans with our guys. He thought he was just as big and useful as they. And, he bonded with a lot of kids in the crowds and ran relays every day.

Sometimes when I’m sharing the gospel I use the scripture where Jesus says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door…I will come in…” Paul told us one morning that he asked Josey if God was knocking at the door of his heart. Josey responded, “I think he is going to.” Nothing else was said.

Party HeartIt was Monday afternoon and we had just finished two sessions that day in two different schools. Many had just prayed the prayer to receive Christ. We noticed that Paul and Shelley were sitting under a tree with Josey and they were talking and praying. I was sitting in a chair watching our athletes “hang out”, sign autographs, and talk with students. All at once two little arms circled my neck from behind the chair and this little voice said, “Miss Betty, I just got saved. I ask Jesus into my heart.” It was Josey! I pulled him into my lap and hugged him tight. He told me he asked Jesus into his heart with the large group of school kids. It was a special moment! Of course, we were all excited for our “littlest” teammate.

The next day Shelley said she asked Josey if Jesus was still in his heart. He responded, “Of course! There’s a party going on in my heart.” Can’t put it any better than that!

While in La Cruz we worked with another missionary couple, Paul and Cathy Broom, on Tuesday night and all day Wednesday before completing our ministry. Paul and Shelley got a phone call that night saying that their 10 year old son, Nathan, had prayed that day with the crowd to receive Christ. Josey had asked him prior to the session is he had Jesus in his heart. He said, “All you got to do is believe, say a prayer, and invite him in.”
Pretty simple, huh? We make it so complex.
“….and the children shall lead.”

(Posted June 2, 2006)

May 19, 2006

Bathed in prayer

Betty WisemanI am absoulutely confident that this team and our ministry is being "bathed in prayer" by familiy, friends, churches, and people we don't even know! There is no way we could minister in this heat to the overwhelming numbers of children without God's care, protection, and divine guidance. I have felt God's presence and peace as we have shared the gospel with thousands already. It is God ordained and directed.

Parents, you would be so proud of your sons and daughters. Belmont, you will never know the kind of spiritual impact your athletes are making. They are bold and fearless and they are not shy when it comes to sharing their faith. They touch my heart deeply as they profess Christ and His love for the people. Can you imagine 600-800 kids of all ages on a concrete slab in 115 degree heat orgnized for play and fun...and then total quiteness as they listen to the gospel. It is like a great "hush" comes over us as tey listen and so many pray to receive Christ! I am in total awe of how God is working and I know your prayers are bathing us in the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for serving us so beautifully. Keep it up!,

May 16, 2006

Tuesday Morning School Crowd

youth_group_school.jpgWhen the team showed up this morning at a nearby school, there was already a level of excitement in the air. A small group of Christian students assembled a band at one end of the outdoor basketball court and were playing songs over the speaker system. Today would be launch day for a new organization of Christian youth at this school and the Belmont team would be part of that launch. It is difficult to describe the scene when 400-500 students are added to the mix and the sounds of basketballs and cheering children are added in. Amazingly enough, small groups were formed for relay games on three sides of the court. Just about everyone put a hand on a basketball at some point. There were plenty of smiles in spite of the rising temperature. The Belmont team gave a short skills demonstration and followed with scrimmage activity from volunteers in the crowd.

Andy Wicke - VenezuelaThe connections that the Belmont team made with these young students provided a perfect way to focus their attention when the time arrived for sharing testimonies. Andy, Josh, and Justin gave personal testimonies of what God means in their lives.

Betty followed with a time of explaining how to become a Christian. When she asked if any one would pray along with her at the end, many seated and standing before her followed as the translator shared Betty's prayer.

Betty Wiseman - Venezuela "For some groups, being literally swarmed by hundreds of young people would have seemed overwhelming. These athletes were completely up to the task. They smiled and laughed when communications were difficult. They autographed every slip of paper and t-shirt when approached. They played, really played with children of all shapes and sizes. Their smiles were as contagious. What looked like an organizer's nightmare turned into a blessing of an experience! "


Tuesday morning - orientation and schools

We are in the home of Paul and Shelley Scott this morning for orientation. Great food, fruit, and fellowship...these are great folks and the team is already becoming attached to the familiy (and the dog). This afternoon we will be in our first school. It will be an adventure and one that I hope to write about later this evening. Thanks again for all your prayers and the supportive comments you leave us here on the journal.

On the run,

May 11, 2006

We are ready and we are glad you are with us!

Betty Wiseman I don't believe I have had a mission team so ready and eager to go! You only have to read their journal entries to catch a glimpse of their excitement. There are nine more like Jenny, Brittany, Brooke, and Laura who wait for the experience. Now that exams are over their main focus is on the "call" to ministry.

The stage (itinerary/plans) is set, the platform (basketballs) packed, and the instruments of God's love and saving grace (students) are ready and waiting. My next entry will come as we are "on mission" in Venezuela.

We count on and value your prayer support!,

April 24, 2006

About This Year's Journey...and You

Betty WisemanMay 15th is our departure date for Maturin, Venezuela where we will be working with career missionaries, Paul and Shelley Scott. This venture into South America began over a year ago with a request from the TBC Partnership Missions Department in celebration of their 25th Anniversary of Partnership Missions. All previous partnerships of the TBC have requested a team from Tennessee to come and minister during this year of celebration. Missionaries in Maturin, Venezuela requested a Belmont Sports Evangelism Team. I met with Paul Scott, this year's missionary host, prior to last year's trip to the Ukraine and agreed to bring a team of Belmont athletes to use basketball as a platform for sharing Christ. This will be a "first" for the Scott's to host a sports evangelism team.

Regular year-long communication with Paul and Shelley by email and phone has generated added excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead. It is obvious that First Baptist Church of Maturin and local lay leaders have been working hard to formulate plans and lay the groundwork for our ministry.

"You will be going into various communities throughout our stay using the uniqueness of your 'platform' to draw on the community's curiosity and provide a willing audience to the Gospel that otherwise would have been a closed door. Your presence is the key to the witness. They will ask 'Why would these gringos spend their time and money to come all the way down here just to tell us about Jesus?"
Paul Scott
IMB Missionary - Venezuela
Our team has been meeting periodically since early February to get all paperwork in order, travel documents ready, and passports in hand. Team members are enlisting prayer partners as they prepare themselves spiritually for the "call" to ministry. Prior to exams the team will have a meeting at BW's house for final instructions, encouragement, and challenge. Departure time is 6:58 a.m. on the morning of May 15.

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