CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern senior goalkeeper Jazmin Gonzalez is heading back to the mission field this summer as she joins Athletes in Action (AIA) for a trip to Portugal on May 14-30, 2019.
Gonzalez is no stranger to the mission field after making the trip to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico last March with a group of CSU teammates. This time, she will be joining a team of around 25-30 student-athletes, players, and coaches on the trip sponsored by AIA.
For Gonzalez, the idea of this trip happened spontaneously as she was planning what was happening next in her life.
"I was thinking about what I want to do when I graduated," Gonzalez admitted. "I called my leader from the Puerto Rico trip and let them know I was passionate about ministry and wanted to see what I could do with this passion."
Through the conversation, Gonzalez was made aware of the trip to Portugal. Her leader was enthusiastic about the opportunity and encouraged Gonzalez about the ability to get to know more people in the organization while playing a sport she loved.
"This trip is a soccer tour – it's amazing and will open up so many opportunities," Gonzalez said. "When I was given all the details, I got really excited about going on this trip. It will be my second time out of the country and I thought I'd be more nervous, but I know I'm meant to go.
There will be a familiar face on the trip with Gonzalez as CSU alum and current Maryland women's soccer volunteer assistant coach Lydia Frierson will also be making the two-week trip to Portugal.
Frierson and Gonzalez both teamed up on the Puerto Rico trip last season and are looking forward to the shared opportunity to work together once again.
"I didn't know that Lydia was going to be on this trip until after I signed up," Gonzalez said. "She called me up and told me she's been asked to coach and I'm looking forward to making this journey with her. She took me under her spiritual wing during her time at CSU and is encouraging and really holds me accountable."
In addition to Frierson, Gonzalez also attributes her growth over the last season and her excitement about this trip to CSU Assistant Campus Minister Brittany Gordon.
"Brittany has been a positive influence for me and has been really helpful about this trip," Gonzalez said. "There's a lot of things that go into a trip like this and a lot of stressful parts, but knowing that it's all under God's control, I trust that everything will be okay."
Among the day-to-day the soccer team will be participating in over the trip includes training, playing with a few teams and sharing the Gospel with coaches and referees. The team will also be hosting clinics in various neighborhoods and sharing the Gospel with kids.
The team has been contacting each other through a GroupMe chat set up, as well as through various conference calls.
For Gonzalez, going off into the unknown again is exciting, but also still a little nerve-wracking. However, her faith is helping lead her through this time and into the trip.
"Last year, I was nervous," she commented. "This year, it's all in God's control. When it comes to things that involve my faith, there's a routine where He continues to blow me away and show me that nothing gets in the way of His plans."
About Athletes in Action
God has called us to "go out and make disciples of ALL nations." AIA USA has partnered with AIA South Africa, AIA East Asia, and AIA Puerto Rico to launch AIA campus movements and strategic partnerships to reach each of these locations. The goal to spread the word of God across each continent, and across the world, they believe can be achieved starting with these partnerships.
Since 1966, Athletes in Action has been using sports as a platform to help people answer questions of faith and to point them to Jesus. The organization believes that sports have the power to open doors and create connections in a way that few other things can, and that's why they are constantly working to create new ways of reaching out to athletes and sports fans alike. Ultimately, their goal is to see peoples' lives changed as they discover God's purpose for their life.
Athletes in Action is present in more than 90 countries and is a part of Cru (formerly called Campus Crusade for Christ). Cru is the name of CCC in the United States.