By now the five teams of student equipment managers have landed in five African countries, collapsed in their lodgings, and explored a few of their surroundings. Soon they will start their three weeks of sports camps.
“Future leaders of sport,” Drew Boe says. It’s a phrase he uses repeatedly to describe these select student managers who volunteered for the trips, not knowing exactly where they were going at the time, not knowing who they were going with.
The trips, to orphanages in Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi, Ghana, Liberia, are designed to teach local kids biblical principles through sports camps and to give long-term missionary workers a summer break.
It’s not an easy assignment.
“We see our team members as model student managers. They are hard-working, okay with being behind the scenes, committed to doing what needs to be done,” Drew says. “At the heart of it is hard work and humility.”
Drew started Managers on a Mission just four years ago after taking a mission’s trip of his own. While in Rwanda with the Rafiki Foundation, God began to transform Drew. The trip changed his direction, his heart, his vocation.
The trajectory he had created focused on a career in sports. First, he served as a student equipment manager at the University of Minnesota. That led to a couple of NFL internships before he landed at Virginia Tech as a grad student. There, Drew found the equipment room again. He was on his way, working hard, making contacts, learning the ropes.
But the seeds planted during the Rwandan trip began to grow and change all that. He began to listen, to wonder, to dream.
“God put it on my heart to combine the sports industry with what He was doing at these orphanages,” he recalled. With the encouragement of a professor, he wrote the framework for a non-profit organization for a class project. Would it stop there? Drew didn’t know.
He took a job as an Assistant Equipment Manager at Auburn, but at the same time decided to launch the mission with the help of mentors and friends.
“Less than a year later it was growing at a pace that it needed my full attention. The doors were opening.”
When he stepped to the stage at the Athletic Equipment Managers Association convention in Las Vegas in 2013, he didn’t know what would happen. He explained what Managers on a Mission was about and hoped the men and women listening would respond.
Drew had an inkling they would. Equipment managers, he knew, were humble, hard-working, and generous.
“Equipment managers treat others the way they want to be treated,” Drew says. It’s a biblical principle, coming straight from Jesus in Matthew 7:12.
“The AEMA has been an incredible blessing to us. Equipment managers respond generously.”
This year’s trips are the fourth summer MOAM has sent student managers abroad. About 40 students applied for the African trips this year. The 21 men and women chosen hail from Colorado, Virginia, Minnesota, Indiana, Arkansas, Florida, New York, Texas, and elsewhere.
“My manager experience has taught me how to serve others selflessly and give me a good knowledge of sports,” wrote Donald Roundtree from Texas A&M. “I hope this translates to my ti
me in Malawi.”
“I’m very excited for this trip because my entire life from an early age I’ve loved volunteering and helping out with various community service and volunteer experiences,” wrote Andrew Johnson, from Oklahoma. “I’ve never been involved with something to be able to reach as far as Africa, so I consider this a great opportunity to reach a broader range of people and to spread the word and love of God!”
Drew knows the orphaned children who will play sports for these three weeks won’t be the only ones blessed by the trip.
“We believe the reason we send the student managers on these trips, and it’s an investment of about $3,000 each, we believe this is one of the most transformational experiences we can provide to grow servant leadership within each of them. They will grow in their relationship with Christ as they see Him work in these villages, with the kids, and within themselves.”
The biggest challenge these short-term missionaries will face will be the enormous drain on their energy. Equipment managers are used to long hours, hard work, and difficult environments.
Africa will stretch them.
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Learn more about Managers on a Mission here: http://www.managersonamission.org/
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