Taking New Steps In Berlin

There will always come times in our lives when we are asked to make choices, and sometimes these choices have the capacity to initiate substantial changes that can impact the rest of our lives. For Hannah Gonzales, a student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, the decision to go on a basketball tour with Athletes in Action to Germany this summer was a response of faith, and a decision to say “yes” to God. After being approached by a friend after her first year of university who encouraged her to attend National Training Camp in Ottawa, she went through a period of profound spiritual growth that summer. Fast forward a few years, and Hannah described feeling stagnant in her walk with God and knowing she needed a change in her life: “When Roxanne approached me in January to go on tour, I knew I needed to do something to help me move forward…without hesitation, I said yes”.

Choosing to make the decision to step out in faith even when she didn’t necessarily feel that God could use her, was an area of growth Hannah experienced while in Germany. Being someone who tends to base many of her realities on how she feels about things, she would tell herself, “God must not be here, because I don’t feel him here”. But God met her in that place, using discussions and experiences with her leaders and fellow teammates until she came to the realization that, “it doesn’t matter how I feel; God is always with me.” Experiencing God’s ever-present character in a new way became a reality for Hannah on tour; she became more aware of not only His presence around her, but also the tangible and real work He is continuing to do in and through her life.

Having the opportunity to share her testimony with the teams after one of the games in Berlin was one of the ways she stepped out in faith during the trip. Despite feeling unprepared and uncomfortable sharing in front of large groups, she again made the choice to say yes. She described feeling the words flow so naturally that she hardly had to think about what she was saying as she fully surrendered the outcome to God, and found a joy in sharing her life with fellow athletes rather then merely talking to them.

Hannah experienced victory beyond competition during her final game in Berlin, playing against the ALBA women’s basketball team that the AIA team befriended over the second week of the tour. The game was intense and competitive, yet despite being opponents, Hannah described feeling genuine joy for the German players when they performed well or made a big shot. Even though AIA ended up losing the game, “there was so much more to celebrate than a win”, and victory in relationships left a lasting impression long after the game ended.

While coming back to her life at home and at school has been a challenge, Hannah firmly believes that “what happened on tour was real, and we’re going to build on it”, as the seeds and truths planted in Germany are beginning to take root in her life. She is choosing to trust God to continue the work He has begun in her, even amidst the difficult realities of school. Her experience on tour has fuelled a new desire to share her story. God can use us in remarkable ways if only we step out in faith and surrender ourselves to Him. How will you say “yes” to God this year?