23 April 2011
CHRISTIAN BASKETBALL PLAYERS PAY SOLIDARITY VISIT TO ISRAEL
Bill Alexson, a pioneer in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Chapel Program and former chaplain with the Boston Celtics, thought he had seen and experienced everything in basketball, until he went to Jerusalem with an all-Christian team of NBA stars. Ten past and present NBA basketball players belonging to the Christian athletic foundation Power Sports International recently made a week-long pilgrimage and solidarity visit to Israel, putting on clinics and exhibition games and meeting with dignitaries to express their support for the Jewish state.
Organized by Bill Alexson, the 23-member delegation was hosted by President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, where he was presented with an NBA shirt. The players were a big hit with youths from basketball leagues in the Jerusalem area as the NBAers dazzled them with trick passes and alley-oop dunks at a skills clinic. The team then played a friendly in the evening against Bnei HaSharon of the Israeli national league. Alexson said "The purpose of the visit was for Christian NBA players to show their support for Israel and the Jewish people," he explained.
"As we told the crowd at half-time, we were there because we believe what the Bible says; that the Jewish people are God's chosen people and the God who gave them the land is going to allow them to keep the land. We met with the president at his residence with the media including television cameras, covering it. President Peres took the microphone and said, 'You don't know what this means to us for you, as Christian NBA players, coming to show support of the Jewish people at this time.
"The trip changed our lives and it humbled us that God used us to touch the whole country to let them know that there were Christians who had come to their land and show their support. If Christians don't take a stand; then who is going to?" Alexson said "Personally, as a Christian, I've always wanted to go to Israel because it's the Holy Land, but more than that, I had become aware of some countries who were distancing themselves from supporting Israel."So I wanted to do my part and I started talking to some of our NBA players about the possibility," he said.
"The trip was off the charts for us. It changed our lives and it humbled us that God used us the whole country to let them know that there were Christians who had come to their land and show their support."
"If Christians don't take a stand; then who is going to?" I then asked Alexson if he was from a Jewish background.
"No, I'm half Greek and half Irish, but I'm a spiritual Jew who knows Yeshua [Jesus] and he's the Messiah of the Jewish people," he told me.
"Then the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the largest pro-Israel group lobby in America, heard about my interest and we cooperated on the trip. "We went to the edge of the Gaza Strip, to the Lebanon border, and also to the religious sites. It was very moving experience. The players had their lives changed, God used us and now we're taking NBA players around the world to preach the Gospel at halftime on nationally televised games" Alexson concluded.
Organized by former Boston Celtic chaplain Bill Alexson, the tour featured former New York Knicks Allan Houston and Anthony Bonner, former Toronto Raptor Jerome Williams, ball-whiz Charles Smith of the Harlem Globetrotters,former San Antonio Spur center David Robinson (The Admiral), as well as Dwight Howard, Sr., father of one the NBA's top stars at present.
Source: ASSIST News