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Seneca Valley linebacker shares mission trip experience

Stebbins in action

Seneca Valley linebacker Jake Stebbins has spent his off season traveling to camps all over Pennsylvania. It’s paid off for him as he’s been offered by some impressive schools to play college football. Both Columbia and Cornell have offered the 6-2, 220 pound middle linebacker thanks to his travels. But it was an offer of a different kind that led to his recent travels.

Back in March of this year I noticed a fund raiser posted by the class of 2019 player, and what I read impressed me. “I have an amazing opportunity this summer to go back to Kenya Africa on a mission trip! Unfortunately it’s very expensive and I can’t pay it all on my own. If you would like to partner with me in spreading the great news of Jesus Christ please donate below”.  This wasn’t Jake’s first time to go on a mission trip, but it was his first alone. “I got interested in the mission trip in the first place because my mom and sister went before I did. My sister has gone 5 times and my mom 3. We went all together 2 years ago for my first time and then this year I went without them.”

Jake & Wesley

“The main thing that really got to me was one kid named Wesley remembered me from when I was there last time and he was always around me and never left my side. A couple days before we left he gave me a note just saying how grateful he was that I came back, so I wrote him something small the next day and within 20 minutes of me giving him my note, he had written another one and gave it to me. On the very last day when we were pulling away, I looked back and waved to him. He waved back to me for a second before he started to cry. It really got to me just how much we affected his life while we were there.”

Naturally, anything you do outside of your sport affects you, but I wanted to know specifically how his trip would affect him. “I think it affects me as a player because I see how hard they have to work for everything that they have but also how grateful they are to be able to work so hard. So it gives me motivation to keep working. I will definitely treat my teammates more kindly and look for deeper relationships with them off the field so create a bette bond that we can use on the field.”

How do you compare the team you met in Kenya with a team of coaches that helps you at Seneca Valley? “The team we had in Kenya was very similar to a team of coaches in that we all had our specific jobs to do and we had certain people we had to teach and help. Some of us were in the school helping to teach the kids, some of us were at the medical clinic treating patients, some of us were working with the widows and parents. I kind of relate that to how every coach had a specific position like the linebacker coach, DB coach, D-Line coach, etc.”

What do you think God is teaching you as you get back into your regular football routine? “God is definitely teaching me to persevere and work my way through adversity to get what I want and need just like they all have to do in Kenya just to survive.”

Will you keep in touch with the people you went to Kenya with? “I often see the people who I went on the trip with at church on Sundays so we catch up there, but we are also regrouping soon here outside of church to just reminisce on our experiences and just hang out.”

How do you feel while you’re there and knowing that the facilities you have in which to learn are so spectacular and you have so many advantages and then you were in that country and they don’t even know what a football uniform looks like?

“Everyone says this when they get back from a mission trip but it’s so accurate: I was humbled beyond belief to see how little they have and how greatly they use it compared to how much we have and how little we use everything. We take it all for granted but so many people aren’t as fortunate as we are.


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