My name is Jason Stringer and I’m just a regular guy who loves God and loves adventure! Born and raised in Statesboro, Georgia, I’ve lived in Savannah, Georgia for the past 12 years.
In January 2017 I moved to Travesia, Honduras to work with BVSA Travesia. We want to help break cycles of abuse, abandonment, and poverty in this community by raising up a generation of young men who will be strong and courageous.
Purpose of BVSA:
We believe that God wants to raise up a group of young men to be loving husbands and fathers, respected leaders, and godly men, who can break cycles of abuse – and absence of biblical family values – related to poverty in the village of Buena Vista, Guatemala.
Our purpose is to mold boys into young men that will lead their future families, and entire community, in a new direction – towards following Jesus, loving and providing for their families, and serving one another.
The goal is long-term. With the Boys Academy, the idea is to work for a long period of time – years – teaching, encouraging, and loving on these boys, with hope that their future families, and next generations, reap the benefit.
After living and working in this community for some time, the trend among men has become obvious. While there are exceptions, the overwhelming majority of the men are abusive, alcoholics, absent, or a combination of the three. In general, their women are considered their property, and their kids are often wandering the streets all day, if not working the equivalent of a full time job. As a result, the girls grow into women who accept abuse, abandonment, and unfaithfulness as “normal.” And the boys… they grow up to be exactly like their dads. It’s a cycle that has repeated itself for generations.
The primary emphasis of this project is to help lead the boys of Travesia towards adulthood having seen that there is another way. The vision that God has led us to is to use a highly competitive sports program and intense training as the primary means to this end. However, while sports programs and other areas of emphasis will be used to engage and provide opportunities, it is critically important to give the boys a daily example. An example of men who are following Jesus, who love and respect their wives and children, and who display integrity, discipline, and values. Our vision is based on the concept that boys learn how to be men by example. The end-goal rests on the hope that these boys grow up seeing examples of godly men, husbands, and fathers that they will seek to one day become.
While providing educational training, life training, vocational training, and intensive sports training, our deeper purpose is engage into the daily lives of these boys. Behind their tough attitudes and thick skin there is much brokenness. Their lives are not easy. In the midst of all the programs and hard work within the BVSA daily schedule, our greater task is to shape these young men into new creatures – lovers of Jesus and of people – and lead them the Hope that will never let them down.
When you look past the “methods” of all that we do at BVSA, we could simply be defined as a church. Most churches have specific cultural dynamics and social dynamics, and they adapt and adjust (as instructed by Paul in the new testament) in order to reach the community around them. That is exactly what we’re doing through the Buena Vista Sports Academy for Boys.
WHAT DO WE DO AT BVSA TRAVESIA?
The focus of the ministry is centered around competitive soccer training and competition. We have approximately 30 boys in the academy at all times, the idea being that we can “go deep” with each of them in an effort to instill longterm, life-changing values. We chose this approach, as opposed to an “open to the public” model, which would have allowed us to minister to hundreds of kids, but on more surface level as opposed to a deeper relational level.
We have a 15-member JV team of “Rhinos” (ages 10-13) and a 15-member Varsity team of “Rhinos” (ages 14-18). Most boys enter the academy around the age of 10 or 11 and graduate around the age of 18, giving them 7 to 8 years in the program. We believe this gives us ample time to work towards transformational change, and our prayer is that during these critical years the generational cycles of abuse related to poverty can be broken. During their time at the academy the boys participate in an intense and focused program combining highly-competitive sports, classroom education, devotionals, weight-training, hygiene, and nutrition. Most importantly, we aim to teach the boys about following Jesus, respecting women, serving their community, and becoming loving husbands and fathers.
WHY ‘THE RHINOS?’:
For us, being a “Rhino” has a much deeper meaning than just a team mascot. Here’s a quick summary explaining “why the rhinos?”.
2 facts: Rhinos cannot see beyond 30 feet. Rhinos can run between 30-40mph.
Those 2 facts together make no sense! Could you imagine driving 40 mph in your car and not seeing 30 feet ahead of you?
But what makes the rhino special is that he will not run top speed alone. A pack of rhinos is called a “crash” – because when they get together, they run their hardest, without any concern for what lies ahead. They know that, together, they can run through anything.
What we are trying to do with the next generation of leaders in Buena Vista at times seems impossible. Our hope is to lead these boys to break generational cycles of abuse, absence, and spiritual emptiness. Many dad’s beat their wife and kids because they have never seen a man in their life who didn’t. The root of the problem runs deep.
As we spend the coming years digging in and attempting to bring life, hope, and grace in Jesus name to these future men, they will need each other in order to stay strong. That’s where the rhino concept comes in.
Just like the lead rhino runs hard, leading the pack, encouraging the others to run harder… these boys will look to their “lead rhinos” to push them. While the leaders in the academy will take on that role of “lead rhino” in the beginning, our prayer will be that leaders begin rising up within. Then as life’s journey moves along, the lead rhino will naturally rotate, allowing various teammates to step up and lead while the loyal crash runs hard alongside them.
For us leaders here at BVSA, our rhino crash is invaluable. We encourage one another, challenge, push, and convict one another. Sometimes we have to call each other out. But we love one another deeply. We share life together and we carry one another’s burdens.
Our prayer is that these BV boys will form their “rhino crash” – running hard for Jesus, growing together in their faith, and leaning on one another as they face their community together… a group of young men who love the Lord and their neighbors, work hard, respect women, and live lives of integrity.
Eventually, may the influence of the rhino crash of Travesia spread like wildfire and have a transformational impact in this place.
For more information about the Buena Vista Sports Academy and what we do, check out: https://www.bvboys.com/.
If you’re interested in partnering with me, click here: http://www.cten.org/jasonstringer.