Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The Lipscomb Track and Field team broke nearly every school record this past season as the program took another giant step forward. And while all of those accomplishments are good, the team set out this week to accomplish something outside the field of competition.
On Tuesday, 20 current and former members of the Lipscomb track and field program embarked on a seven-day mission trip to Belize. This is the second annual track and field mission trip, but the first time to go to Belize.
Bill Taylor, the Lipscomb head coach for cross country and track and field, has always challenged his teams to get involved with service.
Steven Mason and Jenny Randolph, who both run for the track and field team, have organized this year’s trip to Belize. Mason said it was Taylor who originally put the idea in their minds to begin an annual mission trip.
“It has always been a huge goal of Coach Taylor’s to have a team that is very service and mission oriented, on top of athletics and academics,” Mason said. “We try to have a three dimensional team. We do a lot of service projects around campus and in the community throughout the semester.”
“About two years ago he mentioned that he wanted to start a mission trip where members of the team could go on every year. God just started laying on my heart a place that I had been to in Los Angeles called the Dream Center. Last year we had nine students go to Los Angeles, and this year we have 20 going to Belize.”
The Dream Center is a non-profit organization that is based out of California and is designed to help inner cities. The organization also has international outreaches that the track and field team will be working with in Belize.
“We will be traveling to Belize where there are two missionaries that live there and we will be helping them out,” Randolph said. “We will mostly be working with kids and organizing a track and field day for several elementary schools.”
“We are trying to use our strengths in athletics to positively impact the kids there.”
With many of the track and field team members also competing in cross country during the fall, finding a week to take the trip was one of the challenges for the group. However, once the group agreed on the time to take the trip, they immediately began to vigorously plan and raise money for the trip.
“We decided to do this back in the fall,” Randolph said. “We have met regularly both with the entire team and as a leadership team to try and plan the trip and raise funds. It is definitely quite an undertaking, but it is worth it.”
The team spent much of the last few months raising funds to make the trip available to as many team members as possible.
“Back in December we had a 24-hour relay,” Randolph said. “We had people sponsor us and everyone on the team took part in it. It was neat that the entire team participated in the relay even though only part of the team is going on the trip.”
While the group is in Belize, they plan on doing a variety of mission and service projects. As well as hosting field days for area schools, the group also plans to paint a church, visit an orphanage, help build a house, and visit a youth prison. In the evenings, the team will go to area parks to spend time telling Bible stories and giving personal testimonies to local citizens.
“We are really excited about all of the different opportunities,” Mason said. “One of the reasons I like working with the Dream Center is that it’s not just one type of ministry. There are a lot of different ministries that you get to do. It gives the members of the team a lot of different opportunities to use their gifts in different ways and also experience various outreaches.”
The group will return from Belize on Tuesday following a week of hard work. Mason said the track and field program plans to continue doing mission work as an annual tradition.
“This is something that God laid on Coach Taylor’s heart and it is something that we want to continue to do every year,” Mason said. “We are in the beginning stages. We may or may not go back to Belize next year, but we plan on doing a mission trip every year from now on.”