A Journey That Has Only Started

Wadi Sports camp is an oasis in the middle of the Egyptian desert where God’s work can be felt and seen. This is my third trip and every year my relationship with Christ grows stronger. In a selfish way this trip lets me refresh my relationship with God and now it’s up to me to continue seeking him. The campers, counselors, and staff have shown me great love and this love would not be possible without God. I want to share with you my story and how I saw God work in camp.

The whole Red River Ministries team took turns sharing their spiritual journey and how they got to Egypt. I was first to share, and although this was my third time I still was emotional. I first learned about God and his Son at a Pentecostal Church that my grandparents took me to. We went to church 3 times a week. I chose to be baptized when I was in the sixth grade and it’s when I accepted Jesus in my life. A couple years later I strayed away from church and lost the strong relationship with God I once had. High school is where everything took a turn for the worst. I was a terrible boyfriend to my now Wife, Deidra, and was even sometimes a bully to my friends. During my junior year, I was cut from the basketball team and to cope with that I turned to alcohol and drugs. This whole time God was present through Deidra because she continued to love me unconditionally, and I want to thank her for that. After high school, I joined the Navy because I wanted to serve my country and escape from all the corruption in my life. I did not serve my full time with the Navy, and I decided to leave early for many reasons. For a long time, I thought it was the wrong decision, but later in life I saw why God made this happen. After the Navy, I moved to Austin with Deidra and applied to UT. At first, I didn’t want to apply to UT because I thought I wouldn’t get accepted. I found out that the top ten percent rule only applies to students attending college right out of high school. Deidra pushed me and even wrote one of my essays! (I hope UT officials aren’t reading this!!) By the good grace of God, I got accepted in 2008 and began my college career. My first semester went well. I made all A’s except for Psychology where I got a B. I still had not sought God and didn’t let him back into my life. My relationship with Deidra was still bad, and I was still a horrible boyfriend. I turned to alcohol again and began to drink too much. My sophomore year I took a volleyball coaching class that was required because of my Kinesiology major. My professor’s name was Geoff Rich, and it was my favorite class as a student at UT. I learned so much from Geoff, such as discipline, passion, and especially love. During my junior year, my life started to turn for the better. Geoff asked me to be a TA (Teaching Assistant) in one of his basketball coaching classes. Our friendship grew stronger, and I continued to TA for him. At one point, I was his TA for 3 different classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday’s. We would go out to eat every single day right before softball class, and he always insisted on taking care of the tab. Geoff showed me so much love and allowed me to learn from him on a daily basis. My life began producing fruits that had been planted by Geoff’s faithfulness. Deidra and I started to treat each other with love, and I started to show others love. Then one day Geoff asked me to go to Egypt with him on a mission trip to a Christian sports camp. Of course, I said yes. Although we could not attend that year, we did the following year in 2014. Before deciding to come on this trip, Geoff married Deidra and I. I feel like without Geoff in my life I would not be the husband I am to Deidra. I also have a great relationship with my parents, and I also owe that to the love the Rich family has shown me. The relationship I have built with the whole family is great. GG (Geoff’s mom) even game me her old car when she bought her new car. One of my favorite bible verses to describe the Rich family is 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

For me, our trip to Wadi Sports Camp is about sharing the love I’ve learned from God to Egyptians. Whether that’s through encouraging campers, through the major I coach, or through the relationships I make with them and counselors. Let me share with you where I saw God work this trip. There is a camper named Karim Iskander. He is an awesome camper I met two years ago when we came for the first time. He was in my football major and won Man of Wadi for the third time in a row. He also won MVP for our major. This year he choose to be in Dodgeball and of course he excelled. When we went to choose teams, I asked him to be a captain. He picked the campers who normally would not get selected first. This humility is something you don’t see often in a teenager who loves to win and compete. The ultimate sign of love that I witnessed was when the Man of Wadi competition came around. Karim, who by this time had won it 5 times in a row, finished the swim first (over two minutes before any other competitor). Instead of getting out of the water to do the run, he swam more laps with his friend Noor who was struggling. Baher the MC was confused and kept telling Karim to get out the water since he had finished his 4 laps. Once everyone realized what he was doing everyone started cheering for Noor. Of course, Karim didn’t win Man of Wadi, but instead showed that he put God first, others second, and himself third.

Another amazing story is all the counselors who volunteer their time. One counselor specifically that comes to mind is Youssef (aka Toadz), who spends all his summer at camp. He works all four camps and leads the kids in worship at the concerts all without pay. Not only does he do this, but he has so much fun while doing it that you would believe he was a camper. In fact, you will always find Toadz with a smile and no shirt on. Other counselors travel from around the world like ourselves. So, not only is Wadi Sports Camp about sports, but also about how we can grow our relationship with God through sport and relational ministry. After most majors, we prayed as a group. I would asked for two volunteers -one to pray in Arabic and one in English. I would always remind them that Jesus loves them and we should honor him by loving him and others. Thank you for all your support and prayers. We have been incredibly blessed by this journey and now we have to continue to grow in our relationship with God back at home. If you want to see more pictures of our trip check our @rrmgoestoegypt on Instagram. 

Sincerely,

Alfonso Garza, Jr.

{Edited by Hayden Rich and Jackson Cummings}IMG_2301

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