December 21, 2017
The East Texas Baptist University Baseball team traveled to the Dominican Republic (DR) on Sunday, December 10 through Sunday, December 17 as a part of the Tiger Athletic Mission Experience (TAME) program. Fifty-one student-athletes engaged in sports ministry with clinics for children and neighborhood renewal with home improvements. The Tigers also played four games, including two games against Dominican winter league teams and two Dominican national teams.
"Watching Dylan Sumpter share the gospel with the DR Naval Academy made me realize that it can be as simple as a game of baseball to bring people closer to Christ," ETBU junior Kepen Florence said. "I have been reminded what it looks like to play for the love of the game. Throughout the trip, I was humbled because the people of the DR do not complain about their circumstances. They were welcoming and always had a smile on their faces. I was blessed to serve in the Dominican Republic."
The Tigers were immersed in the culture as they toured the downtown colonial area of Santo Domingo and learned the history of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas and the settling of Espanola. They also visited the Fort de Ozama on the Ozama River and spent time in the downtown Spanish cathedral. Following the excursion, the team competed against Los Caneros, a team in the Dominican league, in Boca Chica.
"After the game, Blaine Parker shared his testimony and our appreciation for allowing us to play against them," ETBU freshman James Veloff said. "A member of Los Caneros shared with us about his journey in baseball and how we should play the game the right way. After dinner, we attended a local church, Iglesias Fe' Apostolica, where Tiger Infielder Jesse Burns gave a challenging sermon to the congregation from Romans 1:15-17. It was a great experience to witness how the Dominican culture worships the Lord."
The ETBU Baseball team conducted two separate, two-hour, youth baseball clinics to over 100 children in Boca Chica and Gautier. The camp consisted of 10 different stations including hitting drills, ground balls, fly balls, and a presentation of the gospel.
"It was an absolute joy to watch our Tiger Baseball players serve the people of Dominican Republic," ETBU Vice President for Athletics Ryan Erwin said. "To have a group of student-athletes give up part of their Christmas break to travel to a third world country and use the sport of baseball to impact the Kingdom, shows what type of dedicated Christian players we have at ETBU. The coaching staff and I were blessed to be able to observe the guys outside of their comfort zone to use their talents in baseball to teach others about Christ."
The trip to the Dominican Republic is the third Tiger Athletic Mission Experience. Head Coach Cameron Burger will be taking ETBU Bass Fishing to Brazil on Sunday, January 3 through Tuesday, January 12. The team will live on a boat for ten days as they travel along the Amazon River, stopping at various villages to fish and minister to the people. TAME provides ETBU student-athletes the opportunity to use their God-given athletic talents as a platform to connect with people and share the gospel of Jesus around the world. To follow all of the upcoming trips, visit https://tigerathleticmissionexperience.tumblr.com/.