Former ISU Basketball Star Building Sports Complex in Africa to Help Youth

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HUXLEY, Iowa -- Jake Sullivan was a star at Hilton Coliseum, playing for The Iowa State Cyclones from 2001 to 2004. When his basketball career ended, he quickly found a new mission, and this one is changing lives. "Through a series of events, I came across a Bible verse, Isaiah 46:11, where it says 'I`ll call a man from a far-off land to fulfill my purpose,'" said former ISU basketball star Jake Sullivan when describing the faith that led him to embark on an ambitious project in the African nation of Chad.

Sullivan is a man on a mission, and the former ISU basketball star has a vision for one of the poorest places on earth. "In 2012, I actually began to pray and just say 'God, if there`s somewhere harder, more difficult you want to send me, I`m willing to go," said Sullivan. The answer to that prayer was the nation of Chad. The assignment? To build a state of the art sports mission complex. "Our vision, is if we can create this sports mission complex, you know people from all over that region, you`re talking the Congo and Libya, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Cameroon, would be able to travel to a place that has relative safety compared to the other countries, where they could continue to practice sports, play in tournaments, open it up for different leagues and events," said Sullivan.

Sullivan, who has adopted children from Ghana, wants to create a safe haven for young people in that part of the world. "This could be one of the nicest complexes in all of Africa, definitely in this part of the region, and you know, why can`t we have some of the regional games that qualify for the Olympics? We`re thinking big with this complex. It`s gonna be that nice of a complex, where other countries are coming to participate in tournaments or leagues," said Sullivan.

When complete, the $500,000 project will give young people the chance to play basketball, handball, soccer, run track and do other activities. Sullivan says the region desperately needs something like this. "What these extremism groups are doing, ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda, is they're going into the poorest places of the world and they`re recruiting the young people, and a lot of them are saying like 'we`ll give you all the money, you know we`ll give you women, we`ll give you resources, we`ll give you housing, we`ll feed you, you don`t have to live a life like this," said Sullivan. Sullivan hopes to counter those recruitment efforts by giving young people an alternative path to take. It's his way of battling the extremist ideologies of terrorist organizations who are after the hearts and minds of young people. "The idea is to open it (the sports complex) up to all the athletes, both male and female, throughout this entire region of the continent, so to make as great an impact as God will allow us to make in this part of the world," said Sullivan.

Sullivan says construction is already underway, and the goal is to have the project completed in 18 months. Sullivan still needs to raise $470,000 to get the job done. If you'd like to donate to the cause, you can do so by clicking here and giving to the fund designated for the project. If you want to get in contact with Sullivan you can email him at jake@acts2collective.org. You can also follow his organization on Twitter  and like it on Facebook.  Sullivan runs Acts 2 Collective, which is a non-profit entity.