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A trip of a lifetime

AUBURN - Clint Moseley doesn't remember the girl's name, but he says he will never forget her face.

Rev. Chette Wlliams

"She had to walk about two miles to get water from the well in the village and then go sell it, hope to sell it, just to have one meal for her and her grandmother a day," said Moseley, Auburn's junior quarterback. "Sometimes they don't get it. She was just telling us that, not crying or wanting pity.

"If I don't eat four meals, I'm really angry. I'm mad at somebody. That really made me think about we have it really good over here."

Moseley was one of seven Auburn football players who accompanied team chaplain Chette Williams, head coach Gene Chizik and their wives on a Fellowship of Christian Athletes-sponsored mission trip to the West African country of Liberia. He was joined by teammates Daren Bates, Emory Blake, John Sullen, Dee Ford, Kenneth Carter and T'Sharvan Bell. The group left on March 11 and spent Auburn's spring break on the trip of a lifetime.

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Williams, a former Auburn player and an ordained minister, has mentored Auburn players since he was brought back by former coach Tommy Tuberville in 1999. Even he couldn't have imagined the doors his ministry would open.

"To see the opportunities and doors God has opened to minister to these young men is truly a blessing," Williams said. "You have to take your hat off to the leadership and administration."

It started with Tuberville, who had started a similar program at Ole Miss. Chizik embraced it enthusiastically when he arrived in 2008.

"Tommy, Jay (Jacobs), the administration and, of course, Gene have been so supportive," Williams said. "When Gene came here he said 'I want to help you take this to another level because I believe in what you are doing.' He has done that. He makes it a priority.

Quarterback Clint Moseley

"It's not like he just talks it and does it for show. He leads by example. That's a huge blessing for somebody like me."

Williams, known to almost everyone as "Brother Chette," has celebrated victories and suffered through defeats with Auburn football players. He’s been a friend, a confidant and a counselor, a sympathetic ear when they needed it most. He’s seen young men who grew up hard go on to be happy and successful. It’s when they come back, some just to say thank you, some to introduce their families, that he knows it’s all been worthwhile.

“You see these men go on to be good husbands, fathers and be productive members of the community,” Williams said. “Then they come back, and that’s very special. That’s what it’s all about.

"A championship game is just a moment in time. What we are trying to do is help these guys be productive throughout their lives. I love to win, but to have a young man’s life changed, that’s way more important than a game.”

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Two years ago, Williams and Chizik accompanied a group of Auburn players on another FCA-sponsored mission trip, this one to the Dominican Republic. They saw the impact it had and knew then they wanted to do something similar again. And that led to the trip that started on the morning of March 11.

"Through the eyes of those kids, you saw love, a sense of overwhelming care and sympathy," Williams said. "Then you also saw thankfulness, how thankful I am that I live in the country that I live in and have the opportunities and freedoms we have.

"You see it carry over when they get back, the opportunities they have to reach out to others and you see how blessed and grateful they are."

Auburn coach Gene Chizik

The purpose of the trip, Williams says, was to help those in need and to learn about serving not for selfish reasons but because it's the right thing to do.

"The opportunity to serve, I think, was one of the biggest missions we want to accomplish," Williams said, "to allow them to serve someone else, to go out and serve unconditionally.

"These people didn't know who they were, didn't have any idea what Auburn football was. They didn't know who Emory Blake was or Gene Chizik. All they saw was people who cared about them and loved them."

In Liberia, one of the poorer countries in the world, the group saw the most abject poverty imaginable. They reached out to people who would have considered even the poorest among them to be wealthy.

They saw people like the girl who had such an impact on Moseley. They say people living in squalor, in the worst conditions imaginable. And Mosley says they were changed forever.

"Hardly getting out of Alabama, going to Africa was definitely a culture shock at first," Moseley said. "You can see the shows and the magazines, but you are driving down the road and there is a motorcycle driving down the road with four people on it and a person just holding a baby on a scooter, basically, and they are just weaving in and out. No electricity. It really doesn't register in your mind until you actually see it. I can't really explain it or do it justice. It's the best trip I've ever taken, for sure."

That was just what Chizik and Williams had in mind when they set it all up.

"We worked with some missions people and got a great experience of what life is like outside the United States," Chizik said. "It was very eye-opening. It was experiencing a different culture that lives a completely different way than we do. The overall mission of the trip was to let them realize we all have hard times, but there are a bunch of people out there who have it much more difficult than we do."

The group was hosted by Samaritans Purse, an international relief agency. They stayed in the capital city of Monrovia, but also went to other parts of the country.

One group flew by helicopter flight to a village that could not be reached by road. Another went to the slums of Monrovia, where they visited a girls' school.

"That was amazing," Moseley said. "Their music was amazing. They had one little homemade drum and it sounded like a whole band over here. It was just amazing."

Williams says the impact of the trip will be felt for a long time to come.

"Personally, I don't think the results are over," Williams said. "I think it will take a lot of time to take in what we all saw and what we all experienced."

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