January 5, 2024
The East Texas Baptist University Baseball team served the people of the Dominican Republic as part of the Tiger Athletic Mission Experience (TAME), December 10-16. Throughout the seven-day mission trip, the team showcased their passion for baseball and displayed God’s love by engaging with the local community through service projects.
“For us to have the opportunity to go and serve the people of the Dominican Republic was a huge honor for our club,” ETBU Head Baseball Coach Jared Hood said. “Our guys got to experience a culture much different than our own and an unbelievably loving people. We were shown that God is present in the Dominican Republic and His blessings are abundant. To experience a culture much different than ours and to see the presence of God was truly humbling. To have the chance to leave our mark and be embraced by the people of the Dominican Republic was an experience like no other.”
The team competed in five games during the trip, where they played against local teams made up of mostly MLB minor league players. On Wednesday, ETBU had the opportunity to play against the Dominican Air Force Academy, and on Thursday, the Tigers played against the Dominican Republic Army.
“During the games, we had the opportunity to witness the love and passion all Dominicans show toward the game of baseball,” Ben Burroughs said. “Whether they are in the stands or on the field, the love of the game is all the same, and it makes the atmosphere amazing.”
After each game, players were able to share their testimony with the team and pray over their opponents. Following the final game of the week, the ETBU baseball team donated their uniforms and backpacks to kids in local neighborhoods.
“Through this journey, we've witnessed God's hand at work within our team, we've learned not to take things for granted, understanding that material wealth doesn't guarantee happiness,” Charles Gordon said. “This trip has been instrumental in providing both me and my teammates with a life-changing experience, bringing us closer to Christ and fostering a deep sense of gratitude.”
During the first full day of the trip, the team traveled to paint the exterior of homes in a neighborhood in Boca Chica.
"Our first day in the Dominican Republic was eye-opening,” Carson Wilson said. “We visited a once-thriving sugar cane village now extremely rundown, with houses made from scrap metal, and stray dogs and goats roaming freely. Despite the challenging conditions, the residents greeted us with smiles. We painted three homes and connected with grateful locals. Remarkably, a group of 12 to 14-year-old boys, unrelated to the homes we painted, eagerly joined us, some with torn-up shoes and some with no shoes at all, to contribute to their community. Their selfless act is something I will never forget."
Throughout the week in the Dominican Republic, the Tiger Baseball team had the opportunity to engage with children in the communities through baseball camps and clinics. The team performed baseball drills, played catch, and interacted with the kids. At the end of the camps, ETBU had a devotional time with the children.
“The camp was buzzing with the pure joy of kids, excited to be out there playing their favorite game,” Ethan Brister said. “One special highlight was during our devotional time, witnessing some kids proudly reciting John 3:16 from memory. Today, we didn't just share the love of baseball; we connected with over 100 kids, bringing them both the joy of the game and the love of God.”
On Thursday, the team had a meaningful visit to an orphanage, leaving a lasting impression on everyone. While all members cherished their time with the kids, Head Coach Jared Hood had a particularly special encounter. A child Coach Hood met during a TAME trip six years ago not only remembered him but ran up excitedly to reconnect when they arrived at the orphanage.
“I met Victoria on our trip to the Dominican Republic in 2017,” Hood said. “At that time, my daughters were 5 and 2, and Victoria’s personality reminded me a lot of them. We played the entire time that day at the orphanage, and she was so happy and full of life that it was hard not to have an impact on me. Seeing her again meant the absolute world to me. She was just as I had remembered her. I am so grateful to have had a chance to reconnect with Victoria and see that she is well. Just like seeing one of the houses that we had painted previously in 2017, it is a reminder that not only does our impact on lives last longer than the service that we do, but those impacts have a lasting effect on our lives as well.”
TAME was created to allow ETBU Tiger student-athletes to use their God-given talents and abilities to share their faith with people all across the globe as they strive to transform the world for Christ. Since 2016, ETBU Athletics has sponsored TAME trips to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Serbia, Israel, Jamaica, Slovakia, France, Japan, Greece, Scotland, Australia, Spain, Portugal, Northern Ireland, and New Zealand.