Caribbean Connections

Caribbean Connections

ST. KITTS AND NEVIS -- For Caleb and Josh Hockema and Jonathan Leslie, Christmas vacation wasn't exactly restful. 

In December, the trio of student-athletes from the Sabercats Men's Soccer Team spent eight days in St. Kitts, where they used soccer as a vehicle for sharing the gospel on the Caribbean island. The group spent their time exerting themselves on the soccer field and serving with some local Baptist churches in any way possible.

Restful? Not exactly. But was it worth the time and effort? Without a doubt.

The "Main Event"

Here's what these three student-athletes did:

They partnered with a group called Search & Rescue, which exists as an ad-hoc soccer team that travels to St. Kitts every two years to take on some local club teams. After each scrimmage, an S&R member will share the good news of Jesus Christ with the opposing team. The post-scrimmage gospel session really was the "Main Event".

Besides playing in the scrimmages, the S&R team hosted a 7v7 tournament for kids. After the tournament, the team preached the gospel before giving out soccer balls, cleats, and shirts to the kids. Through these soccer outreaches, the team saw God work - over 20 local soccer players professed Christ.

For Caleb Hockema, all of these activities were a reminder to keep the gospel as his primary focus.

"I thought, 'I can't come out here just to play [soccer],'" Caleb said. "'I have to come out with the right perspective and maintain a testimony.'"

Ministry Involvement

Leslie and the Hockema brothers helped two different churches while in St. Kitts: Good News Baptist Church and Lighthouse Baptist Church. The S&R team conducted the preaching and musical part of the worship services, and members of the two churches sang Christmas carols together in local neighborhoods.

Since they were in another country, the unity of the Church was emphasized to these MBU student-athletes.

"There is no language barrier with God," Josh said. "And that's really powerful if you think about it. When you are serving and praising God with these people, there is no barrier there."

"It was amazing to see the unity of believers," said Caleb. "We knew we were a long ways from home, in another country, and we were all worshipping the same God. Singing the same songs that we would sing in the States and hearing the same message from God's Word was amazing."

Learning Lessons

For these three, giving the gospel was the main goal, and as the men found, the St. Kitts people were generally laid back and very friendly - what you might expect from an Island culture. This laid-back attitude made the people open to the gospel and easy to talk to.

"When you gave them a gospel tract, they would usually open it right there and read it," Josh noted. "They were just really easy to talk to."

"People were willing to just listen to what you wanted to say," Leslie said. "You could have that conversation anytime that you wanted to."

On an Island where word travels quickly, these men and the rest of the team were able to spread the news of Jesus Christ, and soccer was the point of connection. 

"The message is the same," said Leslie. "It was reassuring to me that Christ died for everybody. There were people on the island that needed the gospel, and this was convicting to me missions-wise. I knew about St. Kitts, but actually seeing the people and the need was convicting."

Looking Forward

Caleb will be entering his fourth year of competition this fall, while Josh will be lacing it up for his second season in MBU colors. Leslie will be finishing an associates degree in May, so his stint as a Sabercat will be limited to the 2018-19 season.

As far as the S&R team goes, they are planning to expand their horizons and travel to Brazil in December of 2020 as a break from their biennial trip to St. Kitts.

In terms of applying the lessons he learned while in St. Kitts, Caleb was reminded to apply the "mission-trip mindset" to his career as a student-athlete at MBU.

"When we play other colleges, [it's easy] to lose our testimony," Caleb said. "It's easy to forget that our games here [at Maranatha] are mission fields. This trip expanded my understanding of ministry. You don't have to leave the country to find a mission field - you can find a mission field anywhere if you have a heart for people."

Regional Hosts Announced
June 13, 2019 Regional Hosts Announced
Groundwork: Laid
May 17, 2019 Groundwork: Laid
One for Good Measure
May 16, 2019 One for Good Measure
Causin' More Trouble
May 14, 2019 Causin' More Trouble
Forward Steps
May 10, 2019 Forward Steps
Two Down
May 6, 2019 Two Down
Causin' Trouble
April 23, 2019 Causin' Trouble
Time of Transition
April 8, 2019 Time of Transition
Go Time
March 28, 2019 Go Time
One Mo Time
March 18, 2019 One Mo Time
Pushing New Limits
March 15, 2019 Pushing New Limits
Recapping Records
March 13, 2019 Recapping Records
Mo Again
February 26, 2019 Mo Again
Hello Again
February 23, 2019 Hello Again
One Against Two
February 23, 2019 One Against Two
Softball Season: Cancelled
February 21, 2019 Softball Season: Cancelled
Double Double-Double Double
February 19, 2019 Double Double-Double Double
Top Spot for Regionals
February 19, 2019 Top Spot for Regionals
Another Top Spot for Regionals
February 19, 2019 Another Top Spot for Regionals
Tricks in the Book
February 19, 2019 Tricks in the Book
Mo' for Mo
February 12, 2019 Mo' for Mo
Double-Double Double
February 5, 2019 Double-Double Double
Wilkerson Weekly
February 5, 2019 Wilkerson Weekly
Breaking Down Barriers
January 30, 2019 Breaking Down Barriers
Callie Mo Steals the Show
January 29, 2019 Callie Mo Steals the Show
Caribbean Connections
January 24, 2019 Caribbean Connections
Year 2
January 17, 2019 Year 2
The Main Event
December 21, 2018 The Main Event
Carrying the Mantle
December 15, 2018 Carrying the Mantle
Peaks and Valleys
December 11, 2018 Peaks and Valleys
Another Accolade
December 7, 2018 Another Accolade
Brick and Mortar
December 7, 2018 Brick and Mortar
Book Grabs Weekly Award
December 4, 2018 Book Grabs Weekly Award
They'll be Back
December 4, 2018 They'll be Back
NCCAA All-Americans Announced
November 28, 2018 NCCAA All-Americans Announced
Record-Setting Fall
November 26, 2018 Record-Setting Fall
Only the Best
November 26, 2018 Only the Best
Setting things Straight
November 26, 2018 Setting things Straight
Chasing Four
November 14, 2018 Chasing Four
Hansel Hoards Awards
November 12, 2018 Hansel Hoards Awards
On the Rise
November 9, 2018 On the Rise
Monthly Honors for Hansel
November 8, 2018 Monthly Honors for Hansel
Eyeing the Finish Line
November 8, 2018 Eyeing the Finish Line
Hands down Hansel
October 30, 2018 Hands down Hansel
Sponable Strikes Again
October 30, 2018 Sponable Strikes Again
Hats Off for Hansel
October 23, 2018 Hats Off for Hansel
A Nod for Nelson
October 23, 2018 A Nod for Nelson
New News, Old News
October 16, 2018 New News, Old News
Add it to the Collection
October 10, 2018 Add it to the Collection
Honors for Hernandez
October 9, 2018 Honors for Hernandez
Johnson, Sponable Shine On
October 9, 2018 Johnson, Sponable Shine On
Rankin Secures Weekly Award
October 2, 2018 Rankin Secures Weekly Award
Johnson Doubles Up
September 18, 2018 Johnson Doubles Up
Alumni Day 2018 Review
August 25, 2018 Alumni Day 2018 Review