Kicking it into High Gear


Our AIA coworker (and former Marshall University kicker) Tyler is reaching out to football players around the Midwest and around the world for the sake of Christ. Tyler offers camps and private lessons for high school and college kickers.

Tyler (left) and Coach Friday (right)

He recently held a camp for 40 high school kickers, punters, and long snappers from Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, and Michigan. At the beginning of the camp, former NFL coach Jeff Friday shared his story of faith in Jesus. Then Tyler shared with the campers about the ministry of Athletes in Action. Also, each month 400-500 kickers participate in Zoom calls featuring several NFL greats such as, Butker, Vinatieri, Stover and Peterson.

Some of the campers have worked with Tyler one-on-one, which has given them opportunities to talk further about the gospel. An e-coaching app allows Tyler to get video from kickers and punters around the world which he can use to give them instructions. Tyler has become a certified kicking coach and works with fellow believer Brandon Kornblue, one of the top kicking coaches in the country. They partnered to produce an interview of pro kickers along with a devotion which almost 200 people participated in digitally.

Another digital tool Tyler uses is a YouTube video produced by Joel, another AIA coworker, called “Be A Total Athlete,” which aims at developing kickers physically, mentally and spiritually. Tyler leads about a dozen kickers around the world as they study the Bible.

Last year, one of the best kickers in all of Europe accepted Tyler’s invitation to get in-person training here in the hopes of pursuing a college scholarship, which he earned. This young athlete had never studied the Bible before and had never prayed aloud before, but he starts school in New Mexico in January and is continuing to study God’s Word with our faithful coworker.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: September 2020 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Praise God, for He is still the same today as yesterday! Let’s live out Ephesians 6:18 with each other. Your partnership makes a difference.

Can’t Stop Him


“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

God is powerfully at work accomplishing His good purposes, which even a pandemic can’t stop. Here are some examples of AIA’s digital outreach:

  • Track and field coaches coast to coast are meeting online for devotions. T&F is offering eight-week discipleship training for athletes who had planned to attend AIA international tours.
  • Football ministry is growing as college kickers join a Bible study with other kickers around the world.
  • Volleyball players who had planned to attend an AIA tour in Mauritius are studying the Bible together.
  • The Iron Circle, a group of 72 high school strength coaches, are studying the Bible together, and many are ministering at their schools.
  • Wrestlers who planned to attend AIA tours to Ukraine and Central Asia are participating in digital Bible studies. 
  • Thirty wrestling coaches from six countries in the former USSR are hearing the gospel weekly in a value-added coaches’ symposium.
  • Digital Coaches’ Training was piloted with 45 coaches from 15 countries, and they’re asking for more. 
  • Hockey players are being discipled through group and individual video calls.
  • Swimmers meet in a virtual Bible study.
  • AIA’s Sports Performance Institute is working with churches and ministries in India to engage even hostile audiences through digital and in-person basketball programming.
  • Basketball leadership academies reached nearly 200 athletes with quality leadership training presented by Christian pro players, coaches and leadership experts.
  • 603,000 people saw our Delay of Game posts on social media and 25,000+ watched Delay of Game videos.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: August 2020 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

The Mission Continues


Given what most businesses and schools have experienced since March, it would be logical that sports ministry would be in the same boat. But God has opened unprecedented doors for ministry precisely because of the pandemic.

When Jesus told his disciples to pivot and they obeyed, (John 21:6) the result was unimaginable fruitfulness. Eric Nelson, director of Athletes in Action’s Sports T.E.A.M. division says, “Crises produce problems and opportunities. Our staff have stepped into this opportunity and are living out the pioneering missionary spirit that drew them to staff in the first place. Unprecedented connection with athletes and coaches around the world has been the resulting fruit. The strategies have changed, but the end goal has stayed the same. We are sharing the gospel, making disciples and sending people to be on mission through the virtual avenue.”    

The recent UTC Every illustrates this opportunity.  Athletes from 222 campuses and 27 countries participated in the first UTC Every, a shortened, digital version of our Ultimate Training Camp, which is held annually in several cities. A total of 925 people participated, including staff members and interns. At the conclusion, 293 people expressed a commitment to follow Jesus with their whole hearts.

One UTC Every camper said, “Volleyball has always played a huge part in my life…Being with AIA attending Winter Retreat and now UTC Every has had a tremendous impact on my life and how I lead my team. I’m forever thankful for the men and women who devote their lives to helping athletes like me grow close to God through their sport, but then also teach us how to use our sport as a platform to share the gospel and play for an Audience of One.” Thank you for your partnership with us in winning people to Christ, building them up in their relationship with Him and sending them out as laborers in the harvest. God is not limited by a pandemic. What He is accomplishing through your prayer and financial support of this ministry is amazing.  We are grateful!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: June 2020 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Praise God, for He is still the same today as yesterday! Let’s live out Ephesians 6:18 with each other. Your partnership makes a difference.

I Would Have Done Anything for This


One corona casualty was AIA’s women’s basketball leadership academy until the director, Jenna Bolin, had an idea: What if we tried it virtually? We could offer it to many more people because there wouldn’t be a need for travel, housing or food costs. And so, what normally lasts about a week was condensed into a virtual weekend retreat.

Womens Leadership Acad 2020

(The image is not a link.  You can visit the leadership academy website by clicking here.)

All Division 1 (and some D2 and D3) women’s basketball coaches were invited to “send” players whose leadership they wanted to develop. Previous academies held at AIA’s HQ averaged about a dozen participants, but God was about to blow the doors off our expectations! So many players signed up that we had to offer a second weekend and had 10 times the participants!

The leadership academy speakers included WNBA coaches and players and leadership experts. Their value-added training was delivered from the context of their faith in Jesus. Sports analyst Shelly Till, a former D1 player and coach who now has two kids playing D1 basketball, had a great platform to talk about mental health and vulnerability. Every speaker emphasized leading through relationships by loving and serving one’s teammates.

Bekah Walter, an AIA intern I coach and a former college basketball player, led one of the cohorts for small group breakout sessions. She says, “I would have done anything to have this in college! I was a leader, but I had no direction or goals to lead. I didn’t know how to maximize my strengths. We were all leading against the way our coach was leading.”

Bekahwalter 2020

Each participant at the academy was encouraged to find a definition of success that’s bigger than a scoreboard or a season. By the end, each was able to identify an area for growth, and all left with personal development plans. Most expressed a desire for continued involvement with AIA. This will open doors for the gospel.

We are keenly aware that Covid-19 is impacting you and adding to challenges your family is facing. Please tell us how we can pray for you! We love you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: May 2020 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Praise God, for He is still the same today as yesterday! Let’s live out Ephesians 6:18 with each other. Your partnership makes a difference.

 

 

The Ripple Effect


We have all done it many times: thrown a rock into the water, fascinated by the ripple of waves moving away in all directions. Imagine a rock as big as a house going into the water. This only begins to illustrate Covid-19’s impact.

Ripple Effect Image

One estimate of the financial impact on sports alone is $600 million! How many ways will this delay impact people? It’s impossible to know, but it’s far more than we can count. All our lives have been disrupted.

In a Zoom call last week, we spoke with the athletic director (AD) of a major NCAA school who helped us understand the impact of Covid-19 on their sports programs, the school, the community, the families, the next school year and beyond. He shared how AIA’s ministry is needed now more than ever.

Our staff can help ADs and coaches to better care for all their athletes and staff by meeting their physical, mental and spiritual needs. AIA’s strategy of assisting in areas that are relevant to all opens the door to ministry

Relevance Illustration

in the public arena where we would not otherwise be welcome. AIA provides value-added services to EVERY athlete possible, and this will maximize the number who will have a chance to hear the gospel.

Though it seems the world has stopped, the Kingdom of God has not! Our staff are conducting small group discipleship and large group meetings virtually. One girl Karen coaches shared that Sacramento State and UC Davis have AIA groups that are now meeting together virtually, and they hope to add a third nearby university group. The fellowship among the athletes who didn’t know each other before has been an encouragement to them all.

kirstin schumann

We are keenly aware that Covid-19 is impacting you and adding to challenges your family is facing. Please tell us how we can pray for you! We love you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: April 2020 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Praise God, for He is still the same today as yesterday! Let’s live out Ephesians 6:18 with each other. Your partnership makes a difference.

Cancelled means Opportunity


As of January 30th, the Sports TEAM division of AIA planned 40+ mission trips, leadership academies, and camps for 2020. Meanwhile, our leadership had been tracking the Covid-19 outbreak and planning since early January.Cancelled Image

Then on March 13th, we received an email from Cru stating:

“Effective March 15, all ministry sponsored projects, missions and conferences are postponed through June … limit group meetings to a maximum of 20 people until then… comply with all local, city, state and university guidelines during this time.”

Opportuintiy             Opportuintiy

Like every other organization, AIA is adapting to ramp up all forms of digitally operations for at least the next 30-90 days and maybe longer, while closing our traditional ministry facilities.

Stay tuned, we will share more about how AIA is adapting to full-time digital ministry. The good news for Karen and me is that both of us can and do much of our work through virtual and digital means.

Karen Working1

Karen is coaching and encouraging new staff. We just heard 58 people are currently applying for staff. God is clearly calling more to serve with AIA. In addition, she continues to write and edit for a variety of our platforms.

Rick Working

Rick’s role of providing analytics and insights for Sports TEAM leadership has become even more important around transitioning to an entirely digital ministry. He will be helping our division redefine and manage assisting our staff as we expand and explore new opportunities for ministry to athletes, coaches and sports fans. Your partnership with us is touching many lives through our staff.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: March 2020 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Praise God for how He is leading us in redefining our ministry today and in the coming year! Your partnership makes a difference. 

Your Story Makes a Difference


The opportunities believers have to share God’s love and message of salvation through their lives seem almost unlimited. Here are two recent examples through two different parts of AIA’s ministry.

Indy Winter Retreat

Every winter, AIA helps college athletes grow in their walks with God through retreats. One retreat took place in late January in Indianapolis. Over 320 student-athletes from 39 different campuses attended. Kate, the retreat director, said that 42 athletes indicated decisions to follow Jesus and many more were energized to return to campus ready to live out their lives for Christ. Some commented: “I’ve learned to trust God through grief and surrender it all to Him … God is always faithful,” “Because of how God worked in my heart, I texted my mom, who I have a broken relationship with,” and “Everyone … is capable of joining God’s call to reach the world because God is with them.”

Super Bowl 2020 image

Ten years ago, a Michigan State football player attended an AIA winter retreat to help him grow in his walk with God. Now the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, Kirk Cousins shared the gospel at AIA’s 34th annual Super Bowl Breakfast in Miami, Florida. The program featured many well-known and influential voices in the NFL. People who heard the testimonies will be encouraged to share their stories, too, so that more people will be drawn to Christ. Search “Super Bowl Breakfast 2020” on YouTube to get a recap and hear Kirk Cousins’ inspiring message.

One woman’s comment card at the breakfast asked for prayer for her husband to come to Christ. The very next card was her husband’s, indicating that he had placed his faith in Jesus for salvation. This man was one of 34 of the 1,400 in attendance who indicated first-time decisions to follow Jesus. Amen, and praise the Lord! Sports are a very effective way to share the love of Christ.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: February 2020 newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Praise God for new life in Christ from these events! Your partnership makes a difference. We are grateful for you!