There was this box, see, in the equipment room of the New York Jets when he arrived there as an equipment manager in 2014. It was, Andrew was told, to be filled with any unused gear—from gloves to T-shirts. He saw it fill up.
He had no idea that box would link him to Malawi where he would spend three weeks in 2017 teaching orphan kids and learning from them.
Andrew Johnson grew up in Tyler, Texas the son of a pastor. He heard the sermons, bowed his head at the table, and believed. His family served the church and the community. Charity work was expected.
“We did what we could locally,” he said.
He went to Oklahoma State, worked with the football team as an equipment manager, and graduated with a degree in exercise and sports science.
He interned with the Jets during the team’s 2012 training camp, then was invited back for seasonal internships for two years. In May 2014 he was hired as a full time assistant equipment manager.
“I was so blessed to get this job,” Andrew says.
Clean Out Box
You’ll find Managers on a Mission boxes throughout NFL and college football equipment rooms. They are called Clean Out for a Cause and they fund the mission. Most of the discarded equipment and team apparel goes on missions trips to orphanages in Africa. Some is sold to fund the trips.
“We are the future leaders of sport,” founder Drew Boe likes to say. He offers the trips to equipment managers throughout the country. Many apply. 21 were chosen this year to travel.
It was the box in the Jets’ equipment room that introduced Andrew to MOAM. He thought the trips were strictly for student managers. He soon learned otherwise.
This year, five teams spread out to five countries in Africa. Each landed in a Rafiki village and worked with orphans and other local kids, teaching them to apply the principals of God’s Word through sports and into life.
Andrew was assigned to Malawi.
“Malawi is on the east side of Africa,” Andrew says. “Growing up here we get these images in our head of Africa—the Lion King or the open plans, but it’s not like that, not where I was. It was lush, green, beautiful.”
Each of the five teams taught five principles.
- Principle 1: God alone is worthy of your worship.
- Principle 2: God’s love moves you from fear to freedom.
- Principle 3: God provides His Word and the Holy Spirit to help you grow.
- Principle 4: God redeems suffering for our good and his glory.
- Principle 5: God requires total investment today for eternal return tomorrow.
“The impact on me was that it really touched me to see the faith those kids had and how well versed they are in scripture,” Andrew told Helmet Tracker. “This trip made me very, very grateful for the opportunities we have here just by being born here.”
“These kids, many have high hopes of becoming doctors and scientists and such, but for them there are many obstacles, “ Andrew said. “The lack of resources in this country was eye opening. But these kids know that if they want to try to make it, they need to get out of where they are.”
Drew tells us the five teams were able to mentor teenagers at a deeper level than in the previous four years of trips.
“It was really affirming to see how well these kids absorbed what we were trying to show them,” Drew said. “You see change, transformation right in front of you.”
“These kids really understand how applicable God’s Word is to every area of their life. They are given incredible head knowledge of God and His Word at the orphanage, but this is an opportunity for the application.”
Drew is amazed every year how the Managers on a Mission teams pour out their lives for three weeks, serving the kids, serving the villages.
For Andrew, coming home to the U.S., to the Jets getting ready for training camp and the 2017 season, he has changed as well.
“I was inspired to pray more, to study the scriptures more. To see their faith and know these are young kids but very strong in the Spirit, I was inspired,” he said. “It was very humbling to go into a village and these kids have this understanding of God’s Word—it’s far beyond where I know I am. Their pursuit of God is inspiring.”
“I would go again. “