Pioneers taking basketball, Gospel to Brazil 

March 2, 2011

PLAINVIEW – The season may be over for the Pioneer basketball team, but the group The Pioneer basketball team is beginning a fund raising blitz for a mission trip to Brazil in June. A large portion of the money needs to be raised by the end of April to purchase plane tickets for the team members planning on making the trip. According to Coach Robert Davenport, currently 18 players and coaches plan to make the trip. In order to raise the funds – approximately $2,000 per player – the team is hiring out to do odd jobs such as mow lawns, trim bushes, paint fences or whatever else someone might need done around their house. Davenport said they are also accepting donations.

This is the second mission trip Davenport has led with his team. A few years ago, the group traveled to Europe, where they conducted clinics and shared the Gospel in Lithuania and Poland. Much like that trip, Davenport said this summer’s excursion will use basketball as a way to reach people and open doors where they can share testimonies of faith.

“When I was hired, one of my goals was to be involved in missions and outreach,” Davenport said. “As a child I felt called to missions, but I was afraid I was going to end up in Africa living in the jungle. Later I realized that as Christians we are all called to missions.”

Davenport has made religion and Christianity a focal point for his team activities. A deacon in Plainview’s First Baptist Church where his wife, Leanna, works in the university department, Davenport invites his team to attend Sunday worship and offers to give them a ride if they need one. He also makes devotional time a regular part of the summer basketball camps run at the university, where through the years many young men have made professions of faith. Several of Davenport’s players have made professions of faith as well, including juniors Joao “Johnny” Terra and Rodrigo Silva, both natives of Brazil.

Terra, from Rio de Janeiro, approached Davenport three years ago about taking a mission trip to his home country. He said he wanted to share some of his experiences with kids back home.

“Brazil is a poor country, no matter what,” Terra said. “I just want to share with them a little bit of my life. I want to be an example and maybe a role model for some of them. There are a lot of kids there who don’t know what to do yet, and if they have an example, maybe they can follow it.”

Davenport said the determining factor for the trip was the addition of Silva, a native of Sao Paulo.

“When Rodrigo got here, that really solidified the direction we wanted to go,” Davenport said.

The two Brazilians will serve as translators for the trip as well as sharing their own testimonies.

“It will be a unique experience,” Terra said. “I’m going back home as a college student, about to have a degree from an American university. I’m going home and trying to spread the word of what I have learned. I wish they can have the same experience I am having now, to learn the Gospel and learn a second language.”

Terra, an accounting major, said working as a translator on the trip will also help him strengthen his English and Portuguese.

Scheduled for June 19-30, the Pioneers are starting work now toward raising the necessary funds. Anyone interested in hiring the Pioneers for odd jobs, or in making a donation to the trip, can contact Davenport at 806-291-3810 or by email at