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No plan is perfect – but the Oklahoma Wesleyan University men’s basketball team traveled with perfect intention on a mission trip to the Bahamas.
They made the 1,360 mile journey to spread hope and the spirit of the gospel, while using basketball as a common means of connection.
The OKWU contingent included Eagle’s head men’s basketball coach Donnie Bostwick, 16 players, and a hip-hop artist named Adrian Butler to add visibility to the effort.
OKWU players had plenty of ground time against some of the Bahamas’ top teams, bringing fun and normalcy to the town of Abaco, which was devastated two years ago by Hurricane Dorian, Bostwick said.
“It was pretty awesome,” Bostwick said of the experience. “I’ve been on a few mission trips and each one has its own special chemistry, how this God kind of put you on his journey from the start.”
When Bostwick initially settled on the trip to the Bahamas, “we started dreaming big,” he said. “Our first dream was to go to Nassau, which has the largest population.”
But, due to some recent political changes, this idea has become deprecated.
A friend from Bostwick – Dan Cook, the president of the NCCAA – suggested the OKWU spend their mission trip in Freeport on the Great Bahamas.
This led to another contact in Freeport with a man whose son Bostwick had helped find an American school to play at.
The father encouraged the OKWU group to take the ferry to Abaco, located on one of the four main islands of the Bahamas, to work with locals.
Abaco was destroyed a few years ago by Hurricane Dorian and residents are still trying to recover.
“When you go on a mission trip, God kind of calls you to go to the people who need you the most,” Bostwick said. “We were able to go straight to Abaco and spend three and a half days there.”
Only one main structure had a roof, and it was a sports hall.
The Bostwick groups installed bleachers, which had been sent as part of our trip, into the facility.
“We did basketball camps,” Bostwick said. “At our first basketball camp, over 100 kids showed up. … They were just hungry for the opportunity to come play basketball and see our basketball kids.
As part of this experience, Bostwick met Reverend Mills, who owned one of Marsh Harbor’s churches.
He also owns the national news station and conducted an interview with Bostwick and Butler, giving the OKWU team and the mission trip national exposure.
The Eagles have also played in Abaco and Freeport.
In Freeport, they faced four of the best teams on the island for graduate players under 30.
“We played very well,” Bostwick said. “I think they were impressed with our style and brand of basketball. They could stay with us for a while, but they weren’t used to playing a team-oriented basketball offense like ours.
The Eagles played in a similar tournament at Abaco. One of the players they faced off against was Chauncey Cooper, who made ESPN SportsCenter No. 1 highlights.
In addition to setting up bleachers, hosting camps to hang out with the kids, signing autographs, and more, the Eagles also took advantage of snorkeling and “got a bit of baptism while working.” , Bostwick said.
While playing in Freeport, local high school players stayed and watched OKWU play and then mingled with the players.
“We played against some really good teams and I’m really proud of our guys for the way they served and represented Oklahoma Wesleyan University,” Bostwick said.
He also expressed appreciation for Butler’s contributions and radio interview.
“Every step we took, the number of people we reached was really impressive,” Bostwick said.
He expresses his deep gratitude to those who helped support the trip financially.
“There were so many people in the neighborhood,” he said. “I know they will be blessed in heaven. … God was great.
Bostwick is about to enter his 10th year as OKWU head coach, split over two spells (2007-2011, 2017-present).
OKWU has qualified in each of its campaigns for the NAIA National Tournament.
Last year’s Eagles team qualified for the National Elite 8 Tournament and missed just four points on their way to the Final Four.
Bostwick is just three wins away from 260 at OKWU.