All it took for Cassie Noel to have a sweeping impact on the girls and staff at the Krause Children’s Center was a love for kids, some basketball knowledge, and a willing heart.

Last year Cassie received a last minute invitation from her friend Maria Tyra to attend a volunteer training at a place called the Krause Children’s Center in Katy, TX. Maria had been introduced to the center through attending a GoBox class hosted by the Freedom Church Alliance. She quickly took to Krause and thought that Cassie might as well.

Cassie learned all about the girls who live at Krause, the struggles and harsh circumstances that they’ve lived through, the hard road of healing, and the staff who serves them each day. Then she had an idea.

She’s always had a deep love for the game of basketball. Cassie coaches her own kids’ teams and has thrived in that position. She also loves kids – especially kids who have lived disadvantaged lives. Why couldn’t she bring these two great loves together here at Krause and see what happens?

Thus began the building of a basketball program so the girls at the Krause Center could play in the Kingdom League in Houston. She worked to make sure that the team was fully covered with scholarships and her community rallied to provide basketball shoes and all the team’s equipment needs.

The program quickly took off! The girls loved this outlet, this gift, this team. The girls were told they had to earn their place at practice and at each game – they eagerly stepped up to the plate. Soon after, the staff at Krause shared with Cassie that the girls’ behavior and performance in school was improving dramatically. Basketball was all they talked about! The girls who were regularly practicing and playing started to grow in character and skill. Cassie, as with any gifted coach, turned basketball practice into life practice. Through this game she was teaching the girls life lessons about teamwork, self confidence, trust and empowerment.

Those who weren’t on the team wanted in. To compensate for the high demand of a spot on the basketball court, Krause formed a cheer team. The girls who joined the cheer team started practicing regularly and started performing and cheering at the basketball team’s games. Once again the girls were thriving on their new team by having to earn their spot, and the Krause Center felt a refreshing of spirits.

Staff shared with Cassie that these teams have brought a whole new life to the Krause Center. Not only were the girls dedicated to their new favorite pastime, but the staff was attending games to support and cheer the girls on. Cassie and Maria rallied their family and friends to attend the games and cheer the girls on.

“This is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. This is clearly what God wanted to happen,” Cassie reflects as the season comes to an end. With the changing of the seasons, she is planning to start two volleyball teams at Krause and the girls are looking forward with boatloads of anticipation.

I share this story with you because often we feel overwhelmed with the issue of human trafficking, and we wonder what we can do to make a difference. Demonstrating the love of Jesus by showing up and caring is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to intervene in the life of someone who has faced severe trauma and in need of hope. You never know what can happen when you say yes, when you bring your gifts to the table and let the Lord lead.

“…let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Allison Hankins