QB Mason, WR Bennett will help people in poverty-stricken area of Dominican Republic
by John Bednarowski
sportseditor@mdjonline.com
February 10, 2013 12:00 AM | 6920 views | 8 8 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason, left, and wide receiver Michael Bennett will be spending their spring break on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. <br>Photo special to the MDJ/Wingate Downs
Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason, left, and wide receiver Michael Bennett will be spending their spring break on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Photo special to the MDJ/Wingate Downs
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Hutson Mason is the backup quarterback at the University of Georgia. He also holds the Georgia High School Association single-season passing records of 4,560 yards and 54 touchdowns.

But Mason is more than just a quarterback, and he’s more than just a college student. The Lassiter High School graduate believes in helping those who are in need, and he’s not the least timid about sharing his faith.

Next month, Mason, along with Georgia receiver Michael Bennett and 25 friends, will travel to an area 200 miles outside of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic on a mission trip to try and bring aid and comfort to people who live in poverty.

“One of the most appealing things is it humbles you,” said the 21-year-old Mason, who went on numerous mission trips, both in the United States and abroad, while growing up attending the First Baptist Church in Woodstock.

He will be returning to the Dominican Republic for a second time after serving there when he was a sophomore at Lassiter.

“You see the poorest of the people,” Mason added. “It makes you realize that you have to count your blessings, and it’s important to serve people.”

For Bennett, all he has had to this point is the opportunity to learn about what is to come; and while he may have an idea what to expect, he said he already knows his thoughts will likely pale in comparison to reality.

“I’m excited,” said the 21-year-old Bennett, who lived in Cobb County as a youth before moving to Alpharetta. “I’m looking forward to the experience. You get a chance to build relationships.”

Mason and Bennett will be among three groups from Athens Church — their adopted church while they are at the university —going on mission trips over their spring break from March 9-16. Other groups will be going to Haiti and Nicaragua.

There are an estimated 10 million people in the Dominican, but they live very different lives depending on whether they live in the city or the countryside.

According to information from the U.S. State Department, the cities in the Dominican are thriving because of a booming tourism industry. But that is not the case in the rural areas that depend on agriculture and mining.

Josh Bayne, communications director for Athens Church and a graduate of McEachern High School, said homes in those locations are not much more than shacks, and as much as 30 percent of the country still has limited availability to electricity.

This is where Mason and Bennett will be doing their work.

They have spent the better part of the last eight to 10 weeks preparing to make the trip. Each must have a valid passport, be current on the necessary vaccinations to ward off potential illnesses from the region and, in some cases, learn how to tell their story of what their personal faith means to them.

“It’s something you have to practice,” Bayne said. “Some people have no idea how to put into words what their faith means to them.”

The efforts of Mason and Bennett to prepare for the journey have not gone unnoticed in Georgia football offices either.

“I think it’s awesome that Michael and Hutson are willing to spend their spring break in an effort designed to help others,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I’m very proud of them for participating in this very unselfish act of kindness and thankful they are Georgia Bulldogs.”

Bayne said the church, through the organization Global X, has trips in the spring and the summer. The spring trips are just for college students and, each time, they return to the same place.

“We always try to help the church continue to do what they are already doing,” he said.

What the church is doing could be any number of things — from preparing food and feeding the homeless or elderly, to working on a construction project. Other times could be spent working with children or just finding out what is going on in the day-to-day lives of the local residents.

And Mason, Bennett and the others could be doing that for 12 to 16 hours a day.

In the evening, the members of the group return to base camp, and they discuss what they learned during the day. Bayne said that is where some of the real learning takes place.

“They talk about their day and their experience,” he said. “There is a dynamic to sharing faith and telling their faith story. It really helps them grow.”

Mason has written in a blog — entitled “Beyond the Ultimate” — that he believes he has a platform and an opportunity as a member of the Georgia football team to be a role model. In the blog, he said he understands how the way he acts both on and off the field can influence the way people think.

Because of that influence, Mason wants to share what he has learned with others.

“It’s something that’s been embedded in him,” said his mother, Kelly. “There are people that have a tender spirit in serving others, and he has a heart for people.”
Comments
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Too funny
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February 11, 2013
Considering how much tax free church money gets wasted on salaries, marketing, sound systems, etc and in spite of the obvious proselytizing ulterior motive, I'm sort of ok with this as long as the "construction projects" these guys are building are things like schools, hospitals, food/water distribution facilities, etc. (not other churches!).
Team DR
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February 11, 2013
I am one of the "25 friends" going on this trip with these Michael and Hutson and I just wanted to clear the air about this. We are not planning on doing any "construction projects" while we are there, nor are we providing any other goods or services to the people there other than maybe a few soccer balls or a frisbee. We are going on what I would consider more of a vision trip than a mission trip. We are going to love on the people of the Dominican Republic and to let our own eyes and hearts be opened even wider to people who are different than us. We recognize that as college students a lot of us have not encountered many different people groups, belief systems or cultures and that the lack of such can cause us to be ignorant or feel superior and entitled as "rich Americans". What I am trying to say is that we are going so that we can share our lives and hearts with them, but more importantly so that we can learn from them and be humbled. Our main goals are to see, learn and love not to proselytize and construct.
MAY-RETTA SURVIVOR
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February 10, 2013
If these two - in addition to their 25 other friends - truly wish to help others and be thought of as a "role model", they need look no further than outside their front door. Charity, after all, begins at home!
Team DR
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February 11, 2013
I completely agree! I am proud to say that as one of those "25 other friends" I have seen how much the entire mission trip team, as well as our church (Athens Church) has done for our community here in Athens! The fact that we are going on a mission trip does not automatically imply that we have not done anything for our community; the two are not mutually exclusive. Learning how to be better role models is one of the biggest things we hope to accomplish from this trip. Those of us going to the DR range from 18 to 22 years old and some of us have never been outside of the country before, much less to an area with such a high poverty rate as where we will be in the DR. We are stepping outside of our comfort zone and we are all going to have to really rely on each other and work together to overcome many emotional and physical challenges that will arise on our trip. With God's strength and each other's support we hope to return as better role models in our community and better equipped as leaders for the charities we support here at home.
Southern Patriot
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February 10, 2013
Everyone knows they have an agenda. Philanthropy isn't their objective, it's conversion to their protestant sect. No protestant missionary offers help without the "strings of salvation" attached. Accepting Jesus as your personal savior comes with a cash reward.
jim wright
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February 10, 2013
Everyone has and agenda....well in this case, I believe the agenda of these two young men is to do good, plain and simple.

Why have so many become so bitter and critical of their fellow man without knowing anything about them?
DAWG FAN 82/14
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February 10, 2013
So Proud of Michael and Hutson and the other students that would spend their time an money to offer hope to the underprivileged of DR without expecting anything in return!
Cobb Football
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February 10, 2013
Really?
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