In 1991 only seven days after Desert Storm broke out, I was flying to Bombay India with a group filming inside a soccer stadium. Wayne Bristow had brought myself and a group of men to the nation of India and my job, as always was filming. When I went into the nation, we were met with the United States representative sharing the nation of India had been closed while we were in flight. British Badgers had escorted us over Turkey, Afghanistan and into the country and this was my first part of seeing this side of the world.
What I found in India, were the kindest and most hospitality oriented people I had ever met. They would literally do anything for you and Krupananda, who was our host did everything imaginable for us. We were so fortunate to be staying in the Grand Kempinski Sahara Hotel, but my favorite part was leaving the hotel and being with the people, hearing their stories and being impacted by their spirits.
GLENN BROWN - AIR FORCE VETERAN & PIONEER
Fast forward to present day when I meet a United States Air Force veteran who shared with me about his story, not found in Bombay, but deep within the Republic of Turkey. The year was 1983 and an airman stationed in a new world began a love affair that has lasted until this very day. Growing up as an African American he signed up to enlist and join the Air Force with a love of sports, especially "ice hockey".Glenn Brown had played ice hockey growing up in Michigan and it was always a first love to him. When he looked for places to skate, equipment, teams, there was nothing.
You have always heard the saying, "Bloom where you are planted" and this is exactly what he did. In fact, through the benevolence of an amazing friend in Turkey and the giving heart of his father, financing came through to pioneer the sport of ice hockey in the nation. His father was named George and he worked as an engineer at a machine company. In Turkey, there was a visionary Erol Alkus of Tarim Kredi who believed in children's future and what this sport could do, so he sacrificially invested in the future with Glenn. This one stone started a landslide which lasted until today.
A WORLD LEADER - TURKEY
Decades later, there are hundreds of ice hockey players, thousands of fans and millions of dollars invested in a sport which has brought Turkey into a worldwide sports position. There were an original "six" who took up the torch and began to share the benefits of ice hockey. Olympic teams in both men and women are now at the heart of the sports ministry of this great country.
ELLENS LIGHT RELATIONSHIP
Through the wonderful film ELLENS LIGHT, her brother Nicholas Karas introduced me to Glenn as they had become friends at a veterans meeting in Colorado. You have heard it said there are no accidents, well this was way more than any serendipitous moment, it literally was a divine appointment with a people group I had never personally had the good fortune to interact.
REPUBLIC OF TURKEY
My study of the Republic of Turkey began and do you know what I found? Sports has always been one of the greatest tools to reach across boundaries. Turkey was always the tip of the spear in NATO. There is al president serving for many years who is a forward thinking leader, Tayyip Erdogan. His administration has overseen social conservative and liberal economic policies which have accelerated the growth of the economy.
There are a group of sports professionals who truly care deeply about how the impact of sports is a great way to find diplomacy and good will. Former NBA star Hedo Turkoglu is one of the basketball leaders formerly from the Houston Rockets who is helping grow basketball in Turkey. The Turkish Open is the month of November each year where PGA golfers from around the world come together. National sports is part of the fabric of Turkey.
There are economic development leaders who care about immigration for their nation and the beauty of the country is breathtaking. One could go on all day about the topography of the Republic, but the greatest asset of all, is the people who are so kind, friendly, supportive, giving and way more than I had imagined. Very seldom do you find a people group whose traditions are filled with the "golden rule", of honor and complete respect. The armed services in Turkey are among the worlds finest as they are always prepared and strong.
CUNYET KOZAN - A SELFLESS LEADER
We met a man named Cunyet Kozan whose gracious heart toward the sports community in Turkey continues to impress me. He and I have spoken about wrestling, basketball, golf, ice hockey and the roles they are playing in giving children opportunities to learn. Sports has always been one of the finest and most diplomatic forms of learning to work together, play together and live in harmony.
From this series of important due diligence and discovery, we have launched a new film project entitled, BUZ HOKEYI - BREAKING THE ICE which is the story of how "ice hockey" gave children a new sport which carried the traditions of the golden rule, just as wrestling has for centuries in the Republic of Turkey. We are more than thrilled and honored to bring these amazing stories to the West. Look for more updates in the future and please remember to pray for all of these wonderful people.
FESTIVAL OF THANKSGIVING
The festival of the harvest which is part of the Jewish tradition the pilgrims adopted remind us all to be thankful during this time of the year. We believe in the future and in how we are reaching people of every tribe, every nation and every faith. So to our friends who are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhists and beyond, we love you and we thank God for you.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my family, for my friends, my new business partners and for the ways God has shown off in giving us these opportunities to impact culture. We are thankful for Hillcrest in Stillwater, for Village in OKC and for all the support and prayers of so many who believe in what we are doing. Bringing the family of man together, highlighting unity and being a symbol of the "golden rule" is a way of life for us.
Have a great holiday and we love you,
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.