Posts Tagged ‘Multnomah basketball team’

Basketball team touches lives in Taiwan

Coach Curt Bickley shares the details of the Lions' mission trip to Taiwan. 

The Multnomah Basketball team flew to Taipei, Taiwan, on May 9 and spent the week playing basketball games and sharing the Gospel. Thank you to all our donors who made this trip happen. We were able to share the Gospel publicly 11 times during the week.

The Team


Our team was made up of three current MU basketball players, five former players, a high school coach (Chad Bickley), an NBA coach (Mike Penberthy), two coaching assistants (Mike Farrington and Stan Bickley), and four kids (two were Penberthy’s and two were Bickley’s).



We played nine games in six days. At each game, we were able to share the Gospel with the other team and their fans at halftime or through literature written in Mandarin. All the teams were very open to listening to the mission of our trip.

Bethany Christian School


We visited Bethany on Tuesday morning and ran the school chapel. I introduced the team and spoke about what a relationship with God looks like. I was able to use the example of brother, son, father, mentor, and friend – all members of our team.

The school was doing a fund raiser to replace their gym floor. Each class adopted one of our players and acquired pledges for the number of free throws their player could make in two minutes. As part of an action-packed hour with the K-9th graders that day, Chad Bickley hit 62 free throws, Mike Penberthy hit 61, and Blake Updike hit 55.

Taichung Elderly Home Visit

On Wednesday, we traveled to Taichung to play two games and visit the elderly as we have done in the past. Our guys divided up and spent time individually with the elderly and then my Dad and I spoke to the group. We had a great time seeing our friends again.

We also visited and played a game at Morrison Academy. Morrison’s best player from last year, Andy Brown, will be joining Multnomah's basketball team next year.

Love Life Basketball Game

Love life

Saturday night was a special treat for everyone as we played the SBL All Star Team (Taiwan Pro League). The game was meant to raise awareness and money for kids with cancer — and to raise awareness of cyber bullying, as a local celebrity had recently committed suicide after being bullied.

We knew from experience that the place was going to be packed, and it was. We did not win the game (the score was 100-124), but we had a great time, and the event provided a chance to share the gospel — our missionary Uwe Mauer shared the Good News at halftime.

Tian Mu Grace Church


Our team was able to share with Tian Mu Grace Church on Sunday morning during the main church service and during Sunday School. It was a great time of fellowship with these believers in Taipei.

Thank You

blake coopWe would like to conclude by thanking all those who played a part in making this trip happen. My brother Brad Bickley worked with me for the fifth time in Taiwan so that our basketball team could make things happen all week.

Our missionaries – Rex Manu, Dan Long, Garett Freeman and Uwe Mauer – did a great job of helping us set up and execute a great game plan.

Kenny Cheng took care of us in many ways; he is a tremendous friend to Multnomah University and our basketball program.

Our interpeters Tony Tsau and his friends helped us at all our locations.

I would also like to thank all of you who supported us financially. This trip would not have happened without you.

— Coach Bickley 


‘Our outreach is extensive’: Students volunteer down the street, across the world

Collectively, Multnomah students provide more than 38,000 hours to communities each year — and their contributions span the globe.

They serve as role models for at-risk teens in Portland. They partner with nonprofit agencies in the greater community. And this Friday, the men’s basketball team is heading to Taiwan for a trip filled with service projects, community outreach and basketball games.

The Lions will compete in nine games, including Lovelife, a high-profile annual event that raises awareness and money for children with cancer. Teammates will present the Good News during each half-time.

“This trip is important because it’s an exceptional opportunity to share the gospel,” says sophomore business major Tanner Schula. “God has blessed us with the platform of basketball for ministry. Through basketball, we can first connect with the Taiwanese on a personal basis — and then share Christ.”

During the nine-day trip, the Lions will visit several schools, churches and an assisted living facility.

“It’s exciting that a small Christian school can have such a large capacity for ministry,” says Schula, “This trip displays Multnomah’s expansive reach.”

‘What Multnomah is all about’

Head Basketball Coach Curt Bickley puts a heavy emphasis on outreach and community service; he’s led his teams on mission trips to the Czech Republic and Taiwan for the past seven years. This is the fifth time the Lions are traveling to Taiwan.

“We’re looking forward to seeing old friends, spreading the Gospel, and playing basketball in a great place,” says Bickley. “It’s very exciting that our university has such an emphasis on mission work and that we get to take part in such a great trip.”

The athletes don’t stop serving when they’re back in the States. For the past eight years, the Lions have hosted a free basketball clinic for children at a Native American reservation in Washington. The clinic gives the team an opportunity to impart their skills — and share their faith. “Kids have gotten saved at these events,” says Bickley.

The Lions also volunteer at Providence Children’s Hospital, just down the street from campus. The athletes connect with boy and girls, some of them terminally ill, for a few hours each week. They play games, read, color or just talk.

“Our outreach is extensive,”says Bickley. “This team reflects what Multnomah is all about.”

Communicating values through action

The trip to Taiwan closely follows another service event Multnomah has observed for decades — Day of Outreach. Once every spring and fall, students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community in need of their time and energy. A volunteer site can be anywhere: a nonprofit organization, a school, a community center. Even a neighbor’s home. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

Senior psychology major Brenna Coy has been attending Day of Outreach since she transferred to MU as a sophomore. “Volunteering encourages me and other students to reach out to our neighborhood,” she says. “It builds bridges in the community.”

Theology and philosophy professor Dr. Mike Gurney agrees. He appreciates the opportunity to impact local organizations while interacting with students outside the classroom. Multnomah requires half of its professors to participate in each Day of Outreach event.

“As Christians, it’s not just about what we say; it’s also about what we do,” he says. “We want to communicate our values through action.”

One fall, Gurney and Coy joined a group of student volunteers at Portland Metro Arts (PMA), a nonprofit community arts organization in Southeast Portland. For several hours they dusted, wiped, polished and swept.

Nancy Yeamans, PMA’s executive director, supervised as students bustled around her. A vacuum hummed in the background, and the smell of Windex hung in the air.

“I know you think that cleaning is probably not a big deal,” she said. “But to us it’s a huge deal because we rely a lot on volunteers. It’s meaningful beyond what you can imagine.”

‘We need to love people’

Besides international trips and Day of Outreach, students participate year-round in Service Learning, a campus-based program that connects them with local nonprofits. Students volunteer weekly at more than 70 organizations across the Portland metro area. They also gain priceless wisdom from field specialists who double as mentors.

“We’re committed to helping students integrate what they’re learning in the classroom with real life,” says Service Learning Director Dr. Roger Trautmann. “Whatever service God puts on their hearts is a possibility. From skateboarding to helping the homeless, from children’s ministry to working with seniors, we can connect them with more than 1,500 churches, ministries and service organizations.”

Sophomore Bible and theology major Katie Mansanti says Service Learning connected her to Adorned in Grace Design Studio, an outreach to at-risk teen girls in Northeast Portland. People donate all kinds of fabrics to the nonprofit, where volunteers like Mansanti teach the girls how to sew. The studio aims to prevent sex trafficking by empowering young women to become advocates on behalf of their sisters and friends.

Volunteers provide snacks, help with homework, offer workshops, run a mentorship program and lead a Bible study. “This is a safe place for them to hang out after school and have someone to talk to,” Mansanti says.

Mansanti’s knack for sewing and heart for teens was a perfect fit for the studio. “It’s nice to take something that’s second nature to me and share it with these girls,” she says. “We all need someone to nudge us along and tell us we’re doing a good job.”

Volunteering may be a time commitment for students, but Mansanti doesn’t see it as a burden. “Service Learning allows you to give back,” she says. “Helping people is important to God. We need to love people and be Jesus to them.”

National Award Caps Remarkable College Experience

Erik Mendoza has been playing basketball for as long as he can remember. Like most kids, he learned the basics from dad in his front driveway. But unlike most kids, Mendoza began attending the Chicago Bulls Training Academy when he was 8. It was the '90s in Chicago. The Bulls were heroes; Michael Jordan was a king.

Mendoza, a die-hard Jordan fan, stayed at the academy until he was 15. After playing all four years of high school, he was ready to compete at the college level. A small school didn't appeal to him. He definitely wasn't planning on going to Multnomah.

erik_main‘Jesus has changed my life’

Mendoza’s step-dad and step-grandfather had attended MU. They had great things to say about the close-knit school in Portland. So despite some misgivings, Mendoza decided to visit.

Ultimately, it was the people that won him over.

"I was excited to move out West," he said. "And I had this curiosity about my faith."

Mendoza had been raised in the Church, but he was uncertain about what he'd learned there. Things changed when he moved onto campus his first year.

"When I came to MU, I was tired of an empty life," he said. Four years later, Mendoza is a different man. "Jesus has changed my life," he said. "He has given me so much peace."

Mendoza was also given endless opportunities to mature as an athlete and a Christ follower. His heart for others did not go unnoticed: This year, he was honored with the Pete Maravich Memorial Award, a national honor that annually recognizes an outstanding NCCAA senior who has shown excellence in competition, skill, academics and service.

‘I didn’t want to leave’

A year into Multnomah, Mendoza wasn't sure he was going to stay. He had developed a strong interest in business and marketing. At the time, MU had yet to launch its business program, so Mendoza considered transferring to a different school. He couldn't do it.

"I had made such good relationships here," he said. "I didn't want to leave."

The more he spoke to people about his interest in marketing, the more he felt a pull toward a psychology degree. Ultimately, he decided he could stay at MU and work toward the business world.

‘I've learned so much’

And that's exactly what Mendoza has done. During his sophomore year, he began working as a product tester for one of the world's top sports brands, Adidas. Every couple months, he'd take a pair of prototype shoes home and "wear the heck out of them." Over the next several months, Mendoza would take detailed notes on how the shoes felt, performed and stood up to countless hours in the court. Then he’d submit his observations to Adidas before starting the process all over again.

After two years of testing shoes, Mendoza interned in the product development department. The rapport he's built with Adidas, coupled with the experience he's gained at MU, has opened several doors for him. Since graduating in May, Adidas has hired him as a full-time retail marketing specialist for its basketball, baseball and football divisions.

"I have no marketing experience," Mendoza said. "But through earning my psychology degree, I've learned so much about how people work. To translate that into marketing has not been that hard; it's actually given me a boost in how I view marketing."

Mendoza hasn't only learned how people think, he's also come to appreciate others more than ever. His second major, Bible & Theology, has helped him do that. "I love the layout of the program — that you get to go through the whole Bible in four years," he said. "And I appreciated the teaching. The professors are fantastic; they make it such a strong program, and they relate the Bible to real life."


A better and stronger person’

But it's the basketball team that's been the driving force in Mendoza's life these past four years.

"The team was the catalyst for me being at this school, learning what I've learned," he said. "It was always the one constant thing in my life."

Mendoza thrived while playing for the Lions. He served as team captain for three years. Basketball coach Curt Bickley puts a heavy emphasis on missions and community service; he's accompanied Mendoza and his team on mission trips to the Czech Republic and Taiwan. Mendoza has also volunteered, alongside his teammates, at Providence Children's Hospital for the past four years.

"All these things make the basketball team more than a basketball team," he said. "Coach Bickley is a fantastic role model. He creates men. He'll be blunt with you. But if you stick around, you'll come out a better and stronger person. He's one of the people here who has impacted me the most."

‘It’s been a good four years’

It was because of Bickley that Erik was nominated for the Pete Maravich Memorial Award.

"It never crossed my mind that I'd be nominated," Mendoza said. But Bickley had been impressed by Mendoza's growth during his time at MU, and he recommended him to the group of coaches that determines the award-winner.

The coaches voted for Mendoza.

When Bickley called him with the news, Mendoza was shocked. "I hadn't known I was even nominated until he called me and told me I'd won," he said. "I was pretty blown away."

The award seemed to come at the perfect time.

"I had been really anxious and scared about my basketball career ending, and I was trying to ignore it," he said. "It was bittersweet — but amazing — to see how God wrapped up my time here: The season came to an end, I made my last shot and then I found out about the award.

"I felt like it was God's way of saying, 'You've done a good job here, but it doesn't have to be sad. It's been a good four years, but it's time to move on to the next phase.'"

MU Basketball Team Shares Gospel in Taiwan

tipsCoach Curt Bickley shares the details of the Lions' mission trip to Taiwan this month. 

Multnomah in Taiwan

The basketball team flew to Taipei on May 9 and spent the week playing basketball games and sharing the Gospel. We were able to share the Gospel publicly 12 times during the week.

Thanks to our Taiwan missionaries for all their help and for making this trip work:

  • Uwe Maurer
  • Rex Manu
  • Dave Freeman
  • Garrett Freeman
  • Dan Long


We played 8 games in 6 days. At each game, we were able to share the Gospel with the other team and their fans at halftime. All the teams were very open to listening to the mission of our trip.

We handed out bracelets that said Multnomah University on one side and John 3:16 on the other. We told the crowd to Google both. Our interpreters were great, and there were times when we even used guys from the other team to interpret.


Bethany Christian School

We visited Bethany on Tuesday morning. Stevie Sansone and Davey Walker shared their testimonies with the kids after I spoke. We played Hot Box free throws with the kids and had a great time.


Taichung Elderly Home Visit

Rex Manu set up a great visit for our guys. We listened to Grandma Wu share her life story, and then the residents listened to me share mine. Our guys then massaged the arms and hands of the elderly and then Rex shared the plan of salvation. Eight people who wanted assurance of a home in Heaven raised their hands.



Kinmenn Islands

We flew out to the Kinmenn Islands and spent the day on scooters riding around both islands before we made our way out the the only school on the island. We spent time with the junior high, gave them Jeremy Lin books and shared the gospel. It was the first American basketball team to ever visit their school.



Love Life Basketball Game

Saturday night was a special treat for everyone: We played the SBL All Star team (Taiwan Pro League). The purpose of the game was to raise awareness and money for kids with cancer. We did not know how big of an event it was until we showed up and saw hundreds of fans lined up to get in an hour before the game.

During the introduction of players, each player from both teams came out with one of the children. Blackie Chen prayed for the kids with both teams out on the court.


At halftime, I was able to share the Gospel with over 700 fans and players. After the game, we spent time with everyone involved. We actually won the game by a score of 63-56, surprising most. Our guys represented MU extremely well that night; it was a great success.


 Thank you to all our donors that made this trip happen! 

— Coach Bickley

Davey Walker: Building Relationships

davey_mainDavey Walker had always wanted to attend Multnomah. But once he graduated high school, he opted for a different college. Over the next few years, he switched his major six times. Nothing felt right. Then he came to MU. The transition brought many benefits, including an increased access to faculty members that Walker greatly appreciates.

"MU hires well-educated teachers who invest in their students," he says. "And when you build relationships with them, it adds validity to what they teach. You're not just a face in the crowd to your professors. You're a name and a story."

Read his story.