Obasohan after terror attacks in native Belgium: "I'll keep preaching love"By Sean Landry | 03/22/2016 6:26pm
When Alabama basketball’s senior captain, Retin Obasohan, awoke to news of terrorist attacks in his native Belgium, he couldn’t help but start visualizing. Here was the terminal at Brussels International Airport he’d flown from more than a dozen times, the one he’d walked through when he flew home last April. There was the subway that runs through the heart of a city he’d visited as a boy. While Brussels went into lockdown, he watched, from half a world away.
Then he started calling – first on his cell phone, then on Facetime and WhatsApp after those calls started to go through. The first person he reached was his boyhood best friend, Oscar, who lives near Brussels. Eventually, he contacted his family.
“My family is good,” Obasohan said. “They’re safe, feeling well. It’s good to see my mother and my brothers and my father smile when I was talking to them.”
As more information flowed out of the European capital and home of NATO, Obasohan felt compelled to speak. Obasohan had become a vocal leader for his team and community in his senior season, and he knew he had a message worth spreading.
“I always believe whenever adversity hits you can either run away from God or run to God,” Obasohan said. “This is another opportunity for the human race to run to God, to know our God is good, and that no matter how bad these attacks were, there’s always hope.”
The Belgian said he knew how difficult it was to react to ever-increasing terrorist attacks without fear, but wouldn’t waver in his rejection of violence.
“I don’t believe in hurting innocent people,” Obasohan said. “Not everybody believes in what I believe in, and I understand that. But I know that as a people, we can’t continue hurting other people. That’s not what we’re put on this earth to do, and as we can see, it doesn’t help us.”
He also rejected any notion that Belgium or Brussels had lost any luster in the wake of the attacks, responding to Donald Trump on Twitter in the morning before addressing it again.
“I love my country,” Obasohan said. “I love Brussels, I love Antwerp, I love every city in my country. I’ve been all over the place. I know, as a citizen of Belgium, these are things that will only bring us closer together. This are things that will only make us stronger. Brussels is still a beautiful city. Struggle is not going to change that; adversity is not going to change that.”
Obasohan will travel back to Belgium in the summer after his college career draws to a close–without worry and without trepidation, he said.
“I won’t fly in fear,” he said. “I won’t live my life in fear. The Bible says He gave us a spirit of courage. I’m not going to live scared. I’m not going to travel scared, I’m not going to fly back to Belgium scared, I’m not going to drive my car to the gym scared. I’m going to live with the confidence that whatever happens is meant to happen and God will turn it all for good.”
Obasohan has never been shy about his faith, but his remarks Tuesday were more than a witness. The young man who grew up a mere 30 minute drive from the latest terrorist attack took the podium to spread a universal message.
“I’ll keep preaching love,” he said. “Because love is our greatest weapon, more than anything.”