GUEST BLOGGER: Josh Vescovi
Josh had the opportunity to serve News Release Basketball. This organization travels mainly throughout Europe to run basketball camps and to play against professional and club teams all while sharing the GOOD NEWS of JESUS CHRIST. Based out of the USA, their mission is to present the good news of Jesus Christ and develop disciples of our Lord by building Christ-centered relationships using the sport of basketball.
Ring ring, goes the alarm clock at 6:45am on Friday July, 21 2017. I slowly wake rubbing my eyes. Today's the day I leave to go to Denver for training camp with News Release Basketball before we head to Germany for a few weeks on a missions trip. I feel a little nervous, as I hate flying and having to fly alone only makes things even worse. But there's too much to do to get ready to think about my nerves too much. I get dressed and sprint for the door to make a final deposit at the bank ATM before heading off. We get into the car and I am super excited! As we get to the airport and I say my goodbyes to my wife, boys, and mother. I get to the terminal, snag a picture of the plane, send out a massive text and try to rest a little before boarding.
I get on the plane and for 4 hours the seat belt sign never comes off. Service was minimal. It was a rocky ride the entire time. But I really felt the Lord with me at all time, I was much calmer then I ever anticipated I would be. I watched a movie called Courageous and I felt as I was trying my best to be just that! (great movie by the way!).
I land in Denver and am greeted by Steve Sorensen, the director of News Release Basketball in the baggage claim area. He walks up and and says "now there's a guy that looks just like his picture!" I was extremely happy I made it and was united with Steve after so many weeks of calls and emails. I knew it was finally time to do God's work.
We got to his house where I would be staying for the next six days of training camp and was greeted by his wife Gunilla. She was extremely friendly and welcoming! Had a sandwich and relaxed a little before all the players arrived the next day.
I must say every one I encountered had so much joy and love, you could see the Lord in them greatly. Training camp was amazing. It was a long six days filled from morning to evening but I wouldn't have it any other way. We learned so much about what NRB is all about and what to expect in Germany and how to conduct camps, and tell our stories about how we came to Christ.
Then Thursday July 27, 2017 finally came, it was time to share Jesus in Europe and our two men's teams and our one women's team were ready to go. Again, that flying thing for me is tough. But once again I felt peace, I knew the Lord was with me. I really never felt like He wasn't. I truly felt closer to Him thoughout this time then I ever have.
We had a slight layover in Atlanta before we headed on a 9 hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany where we would take a four hour train ride to Lorrach, Germany where our first camp was.
When we arrived to Lorrach we were greeted by some of the camp helpers and organizers including a gentleman named Marian. Little did I know that fast forward a week and the tears were gonna be impossible to hold back, and leaving Marian was gonna be one of the toughest things I would have to do. Man I love that guy! He truly is a man of God.
So we meet who our hosts are going to be and mine, Johannes and his wife Sabina and their three boys, turned out to be some of the greatest people I would ever meet. We spent many hours talking about anything and everything, (yes including Donald Trump) haha.
So camp starts in Lorrach and we get to meet all the kids and German helpers, and once again the whole experience was just truly amazing. I felt like family the whole time and felt loved by everyone. We met the kids that would be in our small groups. Every day we would have this thing called Power Hour where we tell a story that relates to the Bible and talk about it afterwards. My group of girls were great. They were very much into the conversations.
Yes, this was a basketball camp and we did a lot of basketball things but we also sang worship songs and did little Bible studies. Jesus was our mission, not basketball. That was just a bonus.
We also played several games against pro teams throughout the week. Sadly, we went 1-2 for the week and 2-3 overall while in Germany but hey.
After one amazing week in Lorrach and seeing many kids come to Christ, it was time to leave and go to Munich, Germany where our second camp would be. I cried so much. It was so hard leaving those people. I remember Steve was with us the last day of camp and our last game. I ran over to tell him that I want to be back next year. I told Steve I am very serious. He put me on the roster for next year.
After another 4 hour train ride we arrived in Munich on Sunday July 30th, 2017.
We were met at the train station by a gentleman named Andy who brought us right over to a nightclub in Munich, yes a nightclub lol! But it wasn't being used as a nightclub when we arrived. It was being used for the ICF celebration where we met Patrick, one of the camp orginizers who like Marian, became one of my favorite people. Such an amazing worship experience I could never forget.
We had a team dinner afterwards with some of the German helpers for this weeks camp at the Hard Rock Cafe. We then did a little sightseeing and headed to the CVJM hostel that we were gonna be staying at for the week.
Once again, meeting the people and kids at the camp was amazing, I could honestly type for months explaining and talking about how awesome these few weeks were. So many kids came to Christ. It truly was an amazing camp.
Zach Jones was the lead of this Munich camp. He is a former NBA player. He now holds camps and talks about his faith. It was great getting to know him and see Christ in him.
I will also mention this, I injured my back a few days before and ended up having to get it checked at the hospital. This amazing lady there named Nina took very good care of me. She also will be missed but lucky for me she won't be missed for long. She is moving to Boston and studying at Harvard in September for almost a year!!
Well like I said, there is so so much more to say that I could go on for weeks but just know this: These few weeks were really great! I met so many amazing people and so many men and women of Christ. I was going on this trip to minister to people and yes that did happen a great deal but my heart was ministered and changed as well. I really felt God like I never did before. And it was awesome. I loved every second of it!
See you next summer News Release, I love you guys!