By: Ryan Peterson - email
Marshall, Texas (KLTV) - Thirteen East Texas Baptist football players and coaches raised 14 thousand dollars for a mission trip in London. The Tigers made it to their destination, but never left the airport. After ten of the Tigers made it through security, Coach Mark Sartain and two other players were stopped by an immigration inspector.
"We were treated like suspected terrorists for about four hours," said Sartain.
Despite most of the party passing security and showing all of the proper paper work, the Tigers were told that a new policy in Great Britain requires all workers, even voluntary, to have a work visa or a letter of sponsorship through a registered agency. By no fault of their own, the Tigers didn't have either because their trip was planned before the policy change occurred and the Advancing Native Missions (who set up the trip) was not made aware of the need to be registered.
"There was nothing I could do short of throwing a tirade and probably getting arrested," said Sartain. "You're just helpless. You can't contact the outside world"
Cell phones taken away, Sartain and his players were kept in a small room with chairs and a television. They were detained for 12 hours. The Tigers prayed for a miracle, but were told they had to return the United States. While some might have lost their temper, eleven young men from E.T.B.U. made the most of the situation, continuing to touch lives.
"The guys won over a couple of security officers in charge of us," said Sartain. "We were able to exchange some things that will hopefully change their lives."
"By the time they (the guards) got off," said Coach Rodney McLain. "They came into the room to make sure to give all our guys hugs and tell them goodbye."
The team was allowed to stay overnight at the Elam Institute, but had to leave their passports at the airport and promise to return early the next morning.
"If God wanted us in England, there would have been a change of heart," said Sartain. "We just took it as a culmination of his will in a way we didn't expect."