Michelle Peredo: Welcome back to INC News World as we continue our special coverage of the Regional Unity Game events in the U.S.
Richie Ferrera: With just as many sports enthusiasts, we have more inspiring stories of individuals whose levels of achievement have seen great heights. One young man from New York stands out for his many achievements in martial arts, who brings his skills on the mat to Unity Games for the first time. Michael Robinson has the story.
Michael Robinson: Discipline, Courage, and Honor… are among the principles of Karate, displayed by Jayden Dimacali at the East Coast Regional Unity Games. His dedication to the martial arts has earned him several prestigious awards including multiple gold medals in various international competitions.
Jayden Dimacali (Karate, Ecclesiastical District of New York): It teaches you how to stay focused; how to be calm and self-control.
Michael Robinson: His training has further led him to greater heights and opportunities, competing in a number of Karate tournaments as an eight-time world champion.
Jayden Dimacali (Karate, Ecclesiastical District of New York): I placed third in nationals, second in WUKF (World Union of Karate Federations), and I’m an eight-time world champion. And next month, I’m going to Brazil for another national championship.
Michael Robinson: A growing passion for the martial arts since his youth, Jayden began his journey training in Karate at the mere age of four, under the guidance and tutelage of his father and sensei, Joselito.
Joselito Dimacali (Jayden’s Dad and Dojo Trainer, Ecclesiastical District of New York): We owned a dojo, down in New Hampshire, and since he was a little baby, he was in the dojo, hearing the class going on.
Jayden Dimacali (Karate, Ecclesiastical District of New York): My parents, they always wanted to push me to be great. They always wanted me to push me to go to the next level. Not just to stay at this level and chill…
Michael Robinson: A chance to once again prove himself, Jayden was presented with the opportunity to level up and demonstrate his Karate skills with the opportunity to compete in the Unity Games.
Jayden Dimacali (Karate, Ecclesiastical District of New York): It is my first time and when I heard kata, I was like, “Oh wow! I never saw this before in the Unity Games!”
Michael Robinson: It was here in the Unity Games that Jayden was able to participate and demonstrate his skills in kata, a series of patterned movements comprising of blocking and striking, where competitors are scored based on clean technique, stability, and proper execution.
Joselito Dimacali (Jayden’s Dad and Dojo Trainer, Ecclesiastical District of New York): We usually go to regional, national, international tournaments. But this is a chance, I told him, to go to the Unity Games and show them what God has gifted you.
Michael Robinson: Despite his dedication to training and success in competition and tournaments, it would be through his faith and membership in the Church Of Christ that Jayden credits behind the success of his journey as a martial artist.
Jayden Dimacali (Karate, Ecclesiastical District of New York): I always prioritize the worship service. So I always pray to help me get to gold and always help my body to be healthy.
Michael Robinson: And while Unity Games showcases young athletes’ skills through various sports, its main objective is to foster something greater.
Joselito Dimacali (Jayden’s Dad and Dojo Trainer, Ecclesiastical District of New York): You will hear and feel the love of the brotherhood. So that’s why I always say, put God first for whatever you do.
Michael Robinson: The Unity Games not only served as an opportunity for Jayden to showcase his championship in Karate, but discovering the true meaning of being a winner – the fellowship and bonding camaraderie of brotherly competition, developed through his faith and membership in the Church Of Christ.
Jayden Dimacali (Karate, Ecclesiastical District of New York): What I always like to think is, if you focus on one thing, you could be really great at it. So that’s what I like to think, always focus on one thing, on that one sport, that one thing, and just strive to be great at it. Without God, I would have never went to the World Championship and gotten gold.
Michael Robinson: From Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States. I’m Michael Robinson, for Unity Games International.
Richie Ferrera: In the pursuit of athletic excellence, individuals often find themselves at a crossroad where choices must be made. For one woman from New Jersey on track to be on one of the biggest stages of sports competition, she makes the decision for another passion. Bringing her years later reflecting on the inspiration and fulfillment she gets from the Unity Games. Larlyn Hinkle has that story.
Event Announcer: For accomplishments in 2001, she was named by the Brawny County Times the “Frst Team, All County Track Team” who was named as the “Brawny County Times Female Track Athlete of the Year.” Natasha sets the whole school records in 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, and long jump. Congratulations, Natasha Marshall Esguerra.
Larlyn Hinkle: This was Natasha Esguerra in 2022 receiving a hall of fame award from her high school in Palmyra, New Jersey. Setting school and state records for track and field events back in 2001, a rising star with a goal in sight.
Natasha Esguerra (Student-Athlete Hall Of Famer, Track and Field): So back when I was in college, I was recruited to run track for college and I felt like I had a good chance to make it to the Olympics. At that time, that was like my goal because I was fast and I could do it. So I was training hard for that.
Larlyn Hinkle: And now, at the East Coast Regional Unity Games, while still competing in sports, she reflects on the crossroad she faced years ago that other youth face even today.
Natasha Esguerra (Student-Athlete Hall Of Famer, Track and Field): We also had college studies. So, trying to juggle all of that. I just started becoming an organist as well. I was realizing it was kind of hard to fit everything in and at the end of the day, I was like, if I don’t have enough time to be able to perform my duties back home and support our growing congregation, then I don’t think I can do track.
Larlyn Hinkle: And what helped her decision would change the course of things to come in her life.
Natasha Esguerra (Student-Athlete Hall Of Famer, Track and Field): So I basically sat down and prayed to God about what I should do because I didn’t want to give up my duties in the Church. And I did love running. I had to tell my track coach. I was like “I’m sorry, this is not working. I don’t have enough time.” And he didn’t understand because I’m basically saying, “I need to go perform, I need to go sing in the choir, I need to go play the organ.” And then I started to just feel God closer to me. I just felt like He was giving me blessings out of nowhere, in places I would not have even imagined.
Larlyn Hinkle: Graduating from Princeton, becoming an entrepreneur, and witnessing milestone events of the Church Of Christ were just part of the blessings experienced by Natasha. And her passion for running would be reignited through Unity Games.
Announcer: Ready, set, go!
Larlyn Hinkle: Competing in a milestone event at the Philippine Arena and Stadium, the International Unity Games, part of the Centennial Celebration of the Church Of Christ. While winning gold in numerous track events, it would later show how choosing God is always for the better.
Natasha Esguerra (Student-Athlete Hall Of Famer, Track and Field): A lot of fun. And just to meet brethren from all over the world, all in one place, that was really fun and inspiring. So I’m thankful that the Church holds these kinds of activities so that brethren can stay active and also build unity. It all stems from me making that one choice in college to just make sure that no matter what I did as long as I put God first, everything else would work out and I have no regrets.
Larlyn Hinkle: Athletes like her also see the importance of their faith in their life and the experience of always prioritizing God and how Unity Games reassures them that choosing their faith is always for the better.
Justin Talabong (Volleyball, Ecclesiastical District of Florida): I was being recruited in high school while I was playing volleyball. I had a devotional prayer everyday at 11:00am to just ask God for guidance. My faith is just really showing the importance of putting God first before anything. The feeling I get here out of playing in Unity Games is like what Unity Games is all about. Just the feeling you get of everyone being unified. There’s brotherhood everywhere.
Lara Jae Evangelista (Swimming, Ecclesiastical District of Florida): I am very, very grateful for opportunities like this and all of the opportunities that we’ve had in line with the 50th anniversary of the Kadiwa and Binhi organization [Youth organizations in the Church Of Christ]. I think that meeting all of these people has helped me well… to hear how they apply their faith in their everyday life because that’s what’s inspiring to me and that’s what reassures me that I can do it too.
Natasha Esguerra (Student-Athlete Hall Of Famer, Track and Field): You can really tell that the [Church] Administration just has such love and care and concern for the youth, because really, there’s a lot going on in the world. And it’s way more intense than when I was younger. Experiences like this helps to strengthen everybody’s faith, because my faith is strengthened. I love these things. I love being here.
Larlyn Hinkle: From Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States. I’m Larlyn Hinkle, for Unity Games International.
Richie Ferrera: The courts are now empty. The track and field is now clear. Our young athletes are home now and while some of them brought back medals, others brought back trophies.
Michelle Peredo: But everyone brought home with them memories of experiencing the love of the brotherhood and the care of the Church Administration.
Brother Esteban Inocencio Jr. (District Supervising Minister, Ecclesiastical District Of Virginia): The result of this activity is tremendous. Of course, the edification of the brethren, you can see their happiness, their zeal, their passion as we level up also in our faith.
Brother Garry Garcia (District Supervising Minister, Ecclesiastical District Of Caribbean): And truly, we feel the love of the Church Administration through this Unity Game, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Kadiwa and Binhi [Youth organizations inside the Church Of Christ] here inside the Church Of Christ].
Renee Suarez (Volleyball, Ecclesiastical District Of Caribbean): We are able to really help enhance our faith and be a good medicine to our hearts and our spirits in our faith because of the fact that we’re able to all come together and have these activities that strengthen the love of the brotherhood and edify our faith through the sportsmanship in being able to laugh together and create amazing memories together.
Cylindrae Bryant (Basketball, Ecclesiastical District of Virginia): Always want the brotherly love so very important.
Jerson Dacanay (Coach, Ecclesiastical District of New Jersey): It’s wonderful. And I think it’s even more strengthening that they know that there are brethren out there that are just like them. The brotherhood is just so strong. It is so strong and I’m so proud and so happy to be a part of it.
Brother Esteban Inocencio Jr. (District Supervising Minister, Ecclesiastical District Of Virginia): Because of their love for the Church [Church Of Christ], their passion for their sport, we all came together in this activity all for the glory of God.