Shaun Skubal travels to share his two loves... GOD & BASKETBALL
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.—Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
S haun Skubal has always loved the game of basketball, ever since he can remember. And after high school has found a new life for God. So when the 21- year-old got a chance to go and share his two loves with others, Skubal jumped at the chance.
Through the “Hoops for Hope” ministry, he and three other college students from Central Texas, along with two adult leaders made the trip to Kumasi, Ghana, Africa in early August. All of the Central Texas group attend Highland Baptist Church in Waco.
The 2009 Rockdale High School graduate was a selfproclaimed “party guy” in high school, but since finding his faith in November 2009, Skubal has not looked back for what he believes God’s plan is for him.
“It was definitely an influence on my faith,” Skubal said. “They were so poverty stricken, yet walked around so joyfully. They were happy and encouraging. It made me realize how blessed we are as a nation, to be guided by forefathers who believed in a loving God.”
Ghana is a heavily populated third-world country where 60-percent are of the Christian faith, but 40-percent devout Muslims. Officially named the Republic of Ghana, the country is located in West Africa.
BLESSED, JOYFUL—The young adult realized that freedom is something taken for granted everyday. God was definitely looking out for the group. When they arrived in Kumasi, where the under privileged and deprived are quite visible, the group had a nice place to stay.
“It hit us even in a different country, we were blessed with nice things.”
Texas group of six held basketball camps through the Vincent Asamoah’s “Shoot 4 Life” in Ghana, teaching round ball with the message of hope. It was six days of camps and ministering to children ages eight to 12, both boys and girls. Asamoah is from Ghana, but earned his education from Baylor
University in Waco.
“They were just a joyful group. When we first gave them basketballs, they had no idea what to do with them,” Skubal said. Futbol is the sport over there (we in the U.S. call it soccer).
The physical part of the camp consisted of dribbling drills, defense and the basics of basketball. The spiritual part was about purpose, place and plan.
PURPOSE—The missionary group explained to the youth that God has a plan for each of them and that part of that plan was to bring them to Africa. Skubal was very up front to them that it was not about basketball, it was about witnessing to them about Jesus Christ.
One of the highlights of Skubal’s trip was attending worship services there in Kumasi.
“It was an older building with no window and no air conditioning. Just an open cement building. When it came offering time, each and every one of the congregation got up and gave something,” Skubal said. “They don’t have much, some hardly anything at all, but they gave. You don’t see that in the U.S., not where everyone gives.
“And we felt so bad because we hadn’t had time to exchange our U.S. money to their currency, so we couldn’t give, but they understood. It was just amazing to see.”
To keep the youth-oriented basketball program in place, the Hoops teachers also taught and trained some of the “Shoot 4 Life” coaches who will keep that program going in Kumasi once Skubal and his group left.
Skubal also turned 21 on Aug. 7, during the trip and was surprised by his ministry friends with a cake late that night.
HAPPY CAMPERS— Some of the neighborhood adults would come watch the camps on a dusty outside court and listen to the young missionaries. Thirty people, both young and old, accepted Christ on the first day of camp.
“It isn’t about the numbers,” Skubal said. “If it would have just been one person the entire trip it would have been worth it.”
On the last day the group held an awards ceremony and each of the 250 campers received their own “Hoops for Hope” basketball, blown up and ready to go.
“We brought all of those with us and filled them up at the camp,” Skubal said. “It was so awesome to see them all so happy to have a basketball of their very own.” For some it might be the only toy they own.
“To see the two ministries coming together and spreading God’s glory was great.” The kids wanted the missionaries to sign their basketballs as well.
It is obvious that God has plans for Skubal—plans to do wonderful things in missionary work.
CHINA—Earlier this summer, Skubal and a small group of Texas college missionaries met up with a group from Arkansas and traveled to China to do missionary work.
It was definitely an eye-opening experience, as some have gone to prison for promoting Christianity in the communist country. It was a two-week trip in May.
“For the Chinese there are a lot of underground churches. When we went to the underground church there were about 50 new believers baptized in a blowup pool like you would buy at Walmart,” Skubal said.
THE BIG PICTURE—When asked what he most took away from his summer missionary experience, Skubal said it was the chance to share God with others.
“It grew me in my faith and I now have comfort in not knowing what’s coming next,” Skubal said.
He had been going to Texas State Technical College in Waco majoring in computer networking, but is now looking at where the missionary field may take him.
“I’d really like to witness and be a missionary, but not to stay in one place for a long time,” Skubal said.
Skubal credits his family, who he describes as half Catholic, half Baptist, for never giving up on him before he found his faith.
“The foundation was always there,” he said. “I want to thank my family for sticking with me and supporting me.”
He is the son of Chloe and Paul Skubal and brother to Scott and Cody.
His grandparents are David and Carolyn Boyd, Sr. and Florian and the late Lambert Skubal, Sr.
The young man’s whole experience and telling of his story is a way to witness but it isn’t about one type of faith or another.
“It’s not about religion, its about a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.—Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)