Auburn University’s men’s basketball team is currently in the State of Israel, where they are playing multiple exhibition games.
Outside of their matchups in the sovereign Middle Eastern country, coach Bruce Pearl’s squad is touring the Holy Land, visiting locations of great importance to practicing Christians and Jews. The trip is being billed by Pearl, who is Jewish, as the “Birthright for College Basketball.”
The team took to social media on Friday to share photos of players and staff being baptized in the Jordan River.
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) August 5, 2022
The river, which extends from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, was the location where Jesus Christ was baptized by John The Baptist.
The team’s tour of the Holy Land also included a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is believed to be the location of both Christ’s tomb and where He was crucified at Calvary, also known as Golgotha.
For sophomore center Dylan Cardwell, the visit to the historic New Testament sites was a surreal religious experience.
“Growing up in Georgia, I would’ve never imagined myself traveling across the sea to go to Israel,” said Cardwell, according to The Times of Israel. “Spiritually, this is the closest that I’ve ever been to God.”
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Pearl described that the pilgrimage would be a journey that held a lasting impact on the lives of those who experienced it.
“My players are going to see their Judeo-Christian roots, and for those who want to get baptized in the river Jordan, they will,” said the Tigers coach. “They’ll walk in the garden where Jesus walked and they’ll pray at the Western Wall. And they’ll experience firsthand God’s presence in the Holy Land. Just come and see it, you’ll be changed forever.”
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) August 3, 2022
Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL