Two mothers stood with tears in their eyes as they watched the large huddle of gymnasts on the floor of Jenison Field House at Michigan State University surrounding their daughters with love and prayer.
Three days after the sentencing of Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics and MSU doctor, a quad gymnastics meet was held in East Lansing. Right before the event, over half of MSU’s gymnasts met together where they were led in God’s Word and prayer by Emma Garner, an AIA intern I (Karen) coached last summer. Student athletes from almost every sport at MSU attended the competition to support the team who have been harassed on social media.
Immediately after the awards ceremony in which MSU placed first, fans began to leave, but the gymnasts stayed on the floor as Libby, a student leader in AIA and a gymnast at Rutgers led all four teams in prayer. “We wanted to pray that God continues to heal them and help them move forward, MSU specifically, but also anyone, athlete or gymnast that has been affected by this whole thing,” Libby said.
Hailee, an MSU senior said, “This prayer symbolized how powerful God’s love is and made our team feel like we matter.” Hannah Wilson, AIA staff at MSU reflected, “The greatest victory that night was a girl stepping out in faith and pointing others to Christ in the midst of suffering and pain. Watching an athlete use her sport’s platform to openly glorify the Lord was one of the most incredible things I’ve witnessed during my time with AIA.”
Three days after the meet, a record number of students and coaches came to an AIA meeting where staff member Julie Gillespie shared about her own experience of sexual assault. She talked about God’s redemption and healing, explaining that He does not abandon us in our suffering, but He is with us. Afterward, many expressed a desire to know God more.
I have the privilege of coaching interns like Emma each year. Pray God will mobilize other laborers for the harvest field. Pray He will bring healing and change to the sports culture in the US.
Click the following: February 2018 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.