Athletes in Action assistant basketball coach Zakk Revelle stands in front of the living stones in Tel Gezer, Israel, site of the team’s first devotional in that country. Courtesy photo
STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Zakk Revelle recently returned to Marble Falls from Israel, where he served as assistant coach for Athletes in Action. Spending time and walking in the same area as Jesus did more than 2,000 years ago had a profound effect on the Faith Academy boys head basketball coach and director of basketball operations. While he knew he would return a better coach, he underestimated the trip’s impact on his spirituality.
“(Jesus) lived a very different lifestyle than 21st century Americans,” Revelle said. “I want to know our Savior more and more every day. I’m glad to get to know Him again, to see how God changes my perspective on things.”
Revelle worked with coach Bill Peterson’s Athletes In Action teams May 25 through June 4 in Israel. Peterson is the Baylor University’s special assistant to the head coach for the men’s basketball team. Athletes in Action, which began in 1966, is an international organization that uses sports to bring people together to talk about faith. Teams travel around the world to more than 90 countries to play exhibition games.
This year, Athletes in Action sent two American teams made up of Division I men’s basketball players to Israel. This was Revelle’s second invitation to participate, his first as a coach. He was a member of the Sul Ross University men’s basketball team during his first trip in 2014.
To prepare for the 2019 trip, the team attended a training camp at Baylor on May 20-24 that wasn’t limited to court time. Revelle said the squad also had “team times” for organized Bible sessions to help players get ready for the trip. For Revelle, team times were more enjoyable than the basketball sessions.
Like the camp, the trip to Israel included time to visit spiritual sites and learn about the life and ministry of Jesus.
First stop was Tel Gezer, where attendees learned to be “living stones” for Jesus. The term comes from 2 Peter 2:4-5 (NLT) where Peter writes that disciples are “living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.”
From there, the team visited Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Capernaum, and Caesarea, among other locations. Walking through those cities, where Jesus was born, ministered, and led worship services, brought the Bible to life for Revelle. The trip deepened and strengthened his faith.
As for how the team fared, Revelle’s squad won all games against Israeli teams consisting of players of the same experience level. The only loss, which Revelle called more of a scrimmage, was to Hapoel Jerusalem B.C., a professional team led by former NBA star Amare Stoudemire. The team asked the Americans to play specific offenses and defenses to help them get ready for postseason. Hapoel won its first-round playoff game after wrapping up the scrimmage.
Creating and deepening friendships rank near the top of the list of Revelle’s favorite parts of the trip. He still talks to his teammates from the squad he played on in Israel.
“It was a lifetime deal,” Revelle said. “I’m better for it. I have dreams and aspirations of coaching at a higher level.”
Revelle and his wife, Kindsley, plan a return to Israel on June 18-27. He will be accompanied by Rusty Freeman, director of Family Ministry at Faith Academy, and a group of Faith Academy students, former students, and local residents.