Discovering her Identity


Annie was excited! She had just finished college and God made it clear the next step on her great adventure was a one-year internship with AIA’s Sports Performance staff in Xenia, OH. She says, “I thought everything would fall perfectly into place. I thought I would instantly thrive with a brand-new chapter of my life.”

Annie 2, Nov 2019

As with most adventures, “not everything was smooth sailing. I was not unhappy with my job and role within AIA, but as many of you can attest, transitioning from student life to adult life can be difficult.” Add some transition bumps and unanticipated challenges into the mix, and Annie began to feel some discontentment creeping into her life as it was time to consider a second year with AIA.

As she considered what to do next, she believed her time with AIA was not over. But each time she prayed about it, a strong force pushed against her with negative thoughts. Annie realized that these thoughts were not consistent with her identity in Christ. “Right away, I asked God to protect me and block these negative thoughts from entering my mind.” Ever since that prayer, she has experienced “extreme peace” about her decision to serve with AIA for a 2nd year.

Annie 3, Nov 2019

Despite the variety of experiences and the opportunity to make a difference in the Sports Performance ministry, Annie discovered the key for her was that AIA was a “safe place” to transition into adult life. Annie’s faith in discovering her identity in Christ has blessed our ministry because we will be able to continue developing her leadership, and she is contributing significantly in her second year with us.

One of Annie’s second year roles will be to improve our internship program and help promote our intern recruiting efforts. Personally, I (Rick) have had the privilege of coaching Annie as she has begun planning and developing our new internship program so that our interns have an even better growth experience.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: November 2019 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Praise God for Annie and many other interns who are pouring out their lives to reach another generation for Christ!
We appreciate your partnership. We love you!

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Teach Me to Do That!


When Hailey was in high school, her friend Brinna shared the gospel with her, and she gave her life to Jesus. They became roommates when Hailey started at Wright State University, where she ran cross country and Brinna played soccer.

Brinna, Oct 2019

Brinna introduced Hailey to Amy, an AIA staff member, who began personally helping Hailey to grow in her relationship with God through one-to-one and group discipleship meetings. During that process, Amy says, “I saw Christ change Hailey from the inside out. I was pleased to see the internal fruit of personal growth as much as the external fruit of leading other girls to Christ.” By her sophomore year, Hailey told Amy she wanted to learn how to do what Amy had done with her so she could also disciple other girls.

In Hailey’s junior year, a group of freshman students came in who were eager to grow spiritually, and she was excited to put into practice what Amy had taught her by leading her own discipleship group. The next summer, Hailey accepted the opportunity to share her faith cross-culturally by participating in Xtreme Challenge Puerto Rico, a two-week, coed sports training camp hosted by AIA. There, students learn and apply AIA’s five principles, and learn how to play their sports for the glory of God as an act of gratitude and worship.

Brinna and Girls, Oct 2019

When she returned from that life-changing experience, Hailey was so energized by the opportunity to speak words of life to college athletes that she began considering full-time ministry. Her senior year, Hailey poured her energy into discipling Victoria, to whom she passed the baton, and who is now leading the cross country women’s discipleship group that Hailey had led. Hailey plans to continue ministering to athletes by joining the staff of AIA in January.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: October 2019 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Praise God for new laborers like Hailey who are pouring out their lives to reach this generation for Christ! We appreciate your partnership. We love you!

Plenty Left Over …


At our recent national staff conference, a major focus was our goal of unity and oneness. One of our speakers, Latasha Morrison, founder of Be the Bridge, says, “The church is the only place equipped to do racial reconciliation well.” We who know Jesus should lead the way!

Interns Jun 2019

When Cru was founded in 1951, our country was 90% Caucasian. This is no longer the case, and we want our staff to accurately reflect the current ethnic realities of our culture so we can reach EVERY person with the gospel.

A barrier to this goal has been the difficulty faced by ethnic minority staff in finding enough prayer and financial partners so that they can minister without hindrance. Cru and AIA have been working diligently on finding ways to change this. As new staff are trained, we share with them the opportunity to advocate for others. We encourage staff members to raise support so that they and others can serve as front-line laborers in the harvest.

Interns, Karen, June 2019During their initial training, interns participate in an object lesson which drives home the point that some people face challenges that others don’t. We talk about leveraging our resources for the sake of the body of Christ, just like in a church where different members have different gifts, but all the gifts are given by the Holy Spirit for the equipping of the saints.

The last several years I have rejoiced as I coached our newest staff. Some have had a relatively easy time finding the support they needed, and they have joyfully shared so that others will have the resources they need to report to their assignments.

To illustrate, a former intern, Lauren shared some of her support with Bethany who shared some of her support with Lucymar who is now sharing some of her support with Marie. God’s provision for one person caused a ripple effect to impact others down the line.

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Cor 9:8

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: September 2019 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Thank you for your love for us, for Jesus and for those He came to save! We appreciate your partnership. We love you!

This Camp is the Ultimate


Over the summer, God was not only using your generosity and prayers to do a mighty work through us, but in hundreds of athletes who attended five Ultimate Training Camps (UTC) in the U.S. and others overseas. Let me tell you about two of these athletes!

UTC Girls Aug 2019

Maranda is a sophomore softball player at DePaul U. who joined a Bible study with Lauren (an AIA intern I coached) early her freshman year. Lauren says: “Since then it has been amazing to watch her grow and start spiritual conversations on her team. Before school ended, I encouraged her to go to UTC to further her growth and leadership potential. She said, ‘Yes,’ and then a few weeks later asked if her boyfriend Michael could also sign up. Michael is a junior on the football team at the U. of Chicago, which is one of the schools where we are trusting God to help us launch a movement — HOW COOL.”

Here’s what they wanted you to know about their time at UTC:

“UTC has changed my entire perspective of sports because now my sport is no longer just a competition for success, but rather a vessel to worship Jesus who has already made me successful through the victory of the cross. I have surrendered my sport and life to Christ which has allowed me to rely on His strength, peace, and freedom.” – Maranda G.
“I can sum up UTC in two words: life changing. UTC reaffirmed God’s love and power. It gave me more tools to make a real godly impact on my fellow athletes at the U. of Chicago. I am excited to bring back the passion I got from UTC and the lessons I learned that will help me worship God in my sport.” – Michael M.


 

Cru19 Staff Conference

 

Cru 19 Moby Walkway

Last month we attended Cru19, our biennial national staff conference. We worshiped God with 5,000 of our closest friends, and we heard speakers who encouraged us to remain close to Jesus and to learn to customize our message for a changing audience. Our focus was evangelism, and we discussed the fact that our culture has shifted so that the average person in the U.S. knows little about God or His Word. There is much more diversity which requires a more tailored way to reach each group, and the key is building relationships.

Cru19, Speakers 1

Cru has been developing new methods and tools that can help the church more effectively share God’s love and good news in a culture which resembles a wild field. One way you might see this is in your relationships with millenials and Gen Z’s. We would love to hear about your experiences.  Please share them with us by replying to this email.

We’ll share more about this in upcoming newsletters.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: August 2019 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Ministry Comes Full Circle


I (Karen) disciple and coach interns and part-time field staff by encouraging and helping them as they raise their support and prepare to serve with AIA on campuses and at our headquarters.

Camile, Jun Newsletter

I’d like you to meet one of them.Camille’s first introduction to AIA was through her father who had gone on baseball tours with AIA in his 20’s. Camille played soccer her freshman year at Appalachian State U. and wanted to go on a soccer mission trip with AIA that summer, but she tore her ACL and couldn’t go. Instead she attended an AIA Ultimate Training Camp (UTC). The next summer she went on a soccer tour to Swaziland and Malawi. She returned to school fired up to reach her campus for Christ, but because her school had no sports ministry, she decided to become a representative through our SportLinc program.

Camile 2, Jun Newsletter

As a SportLinc rep, Camille was discipled by an AIA staff member who provided training and help to reach her campus for Christ. Camille reached out to girls she had played soccer with her freshman year who had not been very nice to her. She started a Bible study for the soccer team and ended up discipling some of those very same girls. The ministry Camille started has sent 20 students on sport-centered mission trips in the past few years.

Camile 1, Jun Newsletter

After graduation, Camille served as a one-year intern with AIA Sports Performance. A highlight of her year was discipling Brenna, a freshman soccer player who had been ostracized on her team because she didn’t drink. Brenna didn’t let that stop her — she started a Bible study with her teammates which she led for the three years she attended Wright State.

While Camille attended Georgia State for her master’s, she helped start a softball Bible study in which almost half the team participated. After graduation, Camille and her new husband moved to NC where he is a pastor, and she works for a youth soccer club. Now she is preparing to serve part time with AIA as a SportLinc coach to disciple other students who want to start sports ministry on their campuses just like she did.

Your partnership is making a difference in mobilizing laborers like Camille. 

Thank you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: June 2019 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Uncommon Opportunities


Spring and summer breaks have become doorways through which hundreds of athletes and coaches begin a relationship with Christ or help others to do so.

Lucymar speaking

Lucymar, an intern in Puerto Rico (“Running with Purpose”) is currently finishing up the training she started with Karen last year. In March, she helped with a spring break AIA mission trip in San Juan. “During the week, we shared the gospel with a lot of students and some of them accepted Christ! Others accepted the challenge of getting involved in a discipleship group. I feel so much joy seeing them come to know Jesus. God was saying to me, ‘I have a plan and purpose for the athletes of this university.’ I’m so amazed at what God showed me.”

Each year God writes new chapters about how He is bringing the gospel to the world. Lucymar’s journey to faith and her growing vision for making a difference through sports for the sake of the gospel is at the heart of AIA’s vision for ministry: to see Christ-followers on every team, in every sport, in every nation.

Lucymar, beach

Sports TEAM, the division of AIA Rick works with, has been sending mission teams around the world since the ‘70s. In 2019 Sports T.E.A.M. will send 19 teams to 17 countries along with 15 projects in the U.S. As you might imagine, launching over 30 mission teams requires a great deal of teamwork involving many people and departments.

Over the last few years Rick’s role at AIA has continued to change based on the needs of the ministry. Today his role involves both providing insights through analytics and coaching or advising other staff to help them to fulfill their individual roles. Here are some recent examples of how Rick is assisting:

• Helping AIA to pursue operational excellence so that every dollar invested in the Great Commission goes farther and is more effective
• Developing digital media for recruiting and fund development
• Helping leadership to develop more effective strategic planning
• Helping make God’s name great through social media to build awareness and communicate about how athletes can help change the world

All of these projects will impact how AIA’s ministry adapts to the changing landscape of the world we are trying to reach for Christ and those we equip to have a lifetime of ministry.

We are deeply grateful for your partnership! Thank you for helping us mobilize labors for the harvest.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: April 2019 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Competition and the Gospel


In 2016 Rob, an AIA staffer, took a group of students on a mission trip to Central Asia. At one place they wrestled, the host country coach asked Rob if he could bring a team to wrestle in the U.S. Plans were made to bring 14 wrestlers and coaches to the U.S., but only two could get visas, including K., a skilled wrestler who really wanted to compete here.

Wrestling Newsletter edited

So K. came and lived with Rob’s family for two months. Rob took K. to several schools to attend practices and work with many wrestlers. Because K. was such a good wrestler, he was invited by a major Division I university to stay and compete with their athletes because “iron sharpens iron,” and the coaches knew K. would be able to give their wrestlers serious competition. The head coach, assistant coach and numerous wrestlers on that team are believers who understood the opportunity to influence this young man’s life with Christ’s love.

DSC_2738 edited

His six-month visa expired, so K. went home country, but Rob made a connection at another school where K. is now training with two AIA alumni. K. recently competed at the Dave Schultz Memorial International tournament at the Olympic Training Center. Rob asked BJ, a great wrestler he knew who is a Christian, for the loan of a couple singlets since K. hadn’t brought any. BJ didn’t loan, but gave K. two! Later Rob connected with BJ’s coach, an Olympic champion and a strong believer, to thank him. They hadn’t met before, but this coach had heard about Rob’s trip to Central Asia and wanted to send the guys he coaches on their next trip.

IMG_0123 edited

Through all of these relationships, God is opening doors for the gospel. Staff members like Rob are taking every opportunity to connect with others to widely sow the seeds of the gospel. Competitive trips like the Central Asia one serve several purposes: they give American athletes a chance to compete worldwide while giving them extraordinary opportunities for discipleship, fellowship and evangelism; they enable students to see and participate as God draws people to Himself; they serve as a catalyst to ministry in other countries; and they give American students a vision for reaching their own campuses once they return home.  Each year the Sports T.E.A.M. division of AIA sends out 30 – 40 mission projects like this one.  Rick’s role is to help make these trips more effective. 

We are deeply grateful for your partnership!
Thank you for helping us mobilize labors for the harvest.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: March 2019 newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.