In the midst of suffering

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.

EMU Gymnasts Feb 2018Three 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.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.

Click the following: February 2018 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.


Into the Harvest Field

The fall is a time of beginnings. It’s a time of birthing new ministry. Over the summer, Karen was privileged to disciple/coach six of over 60 new staff who started their ministry this fall. It’s quite a journey to finish their training and financial support. It requires true faith and commitment. You can get a glimpse into their journey by reading “I’d Have Been Lost …”.

Karens 2017 Interns, 4 of 8

Left to Right: Kendal, Lexi, Karen, Emma, & Lauren at AIA’s New Staff Fall Retreat (Mindy & Caitlin not pictured)

So where are they now? Karen’s interns are now serving at San Diego State U.(Kendall), GA Southern U.(Lexi), MI State U.(Emma), MN State U. Moorhead (Mindy), the U. of MN (Caitlin) and Chicago Metro (Lauren) which includes Northwestern, DePaul, Loyola and Roosevelt Universities.

Your prayers and financial support of our ministry are multiplying laborers for the harvest all over the country!

Lauren is serving with the Chicago Metro team. Through the process of raising her support, God revealed money as an idol when she realized she had a tighter grip on money for her security than she thought. Now God is enabling her to become more generous and to fully trust His provision.

DePaul U. hasn’t allowed the use of the name Athletes in Action and has not allowed staff to be on their campus, so ministry has had to be done off campus, but Lauren is in a unique position. As a DePaul alum, she will have unprecedented access to her own former teammates and coaches, and she will be able to serve and minister on her campus. She is already discipling five girls and reaching out to five different teams. Last year there was a presence on only one team. Please pray that through her influence many spiritual generations will be raised up at DePaul.

IMG_8635.jpg WeStillDoLast month was our 30th anniversary, and this month we celebrated by attending a Family Life marriage conference. As our supporters, you can attend a Family Life conference at 75% off from now until August 2018 by using the code CruThanks at checkout. (Family Life is a Cru ministry just like AIA.)

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.

Click the following: November 2017 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Achieving their highest potential

Coach Rob: I’ve seen players and coaches develop as disciples due to AIA … helping Christian players achieve their highest potential, using their platform to promote Christ.

Coach Rob’s statement sums up Sports TEAM’s 2017 ministry year! We fielded 32 different mission projects in 19 countries, including the U.S. These projects involved competitive teams, coaching clinics, Ultimate Training Camps or leadership academies, based on the needs of the ministry team we were serving.

Sports TEAM Staff Retreat 2017

Sports TEAM Staff @ John Bryan Park (Rick, 2nd row, 3rd from left)

Our biggest impact is changed lives. Coach Kara explains, While it’s been five years ago, the experience we had together will forever impact the way I coach and develop the culture among my current athletes. God did amazing things through these teams: they shared the gospel with over 400 individuals one-on-one, and nearly 5,000 heard the gospel in group settings. In addition, Sports TEAM had the privilege of training 120 interns. While only God knows how many new names were added to the Book of Life, we know of at least 230 people who gave their lives to Christ.

Our opportunity to impact lives grows as our involvement with coaches and athletes expands. Coach Cranston agrees. Showing athletes and coaches how to use this platform to honor and serve the Lord is special, and Jesus will use you in incredible ways if you’re willing to show up for Him! Over the last two years, AIA has accelerated the development of new camps and academies at the request of many leaders in the sports world.

Coach Matthews told us, “Today’s athlete is slowly getting more and more difficult to coach, and new laws are lessening our rights to be outward with our faith.” Yet God is opening more and more doors to impact our country’s future leaders, because both academic and sports leaders know that without character, their teams and athletes will not reach their full potential now or in the future.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.

Click the following: October 2017 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

I’d Have Been Lost …

We’ve had a week of moving: Elizabeth to her dorm at OU, Annie from one apartment to another at EMU, and beds from our house to OSU campus for some international students. Some things were too big or too heavy to carry alone, but with help, I could do it.IMG_7220.JPG

This describes my role all summer as a coach for eight young women who have been raising support for one-year internships with AIA. I have been discipling, equipping and encouraging them as they have taken greater steps of faith than ever. One intern said, “Having you as my coach enabled me to stay on track and be encouraged and motivated while growing in my relationship with the Lord.

You provided accountability, encouragement and wisdom as you shared your own experiences and prayed with me. I would have been completely lost without your help.” For them to do this alone would have been overwhelming, but with help, it was doable.

Through your partnership with us, you have enabled us to mobilize Christ-centered laborers who are eager to be sent into the harvest field. Another highlight of our summer was Cru17, our national staff conference celebrating the theme “With.” Our focus was on partnerships so that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations…” (Matthew 24:14). It was a treat to see four interns I have coached in the past going overseas or joining our staff long term.

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 9.29.31 AM.pngA major focus of Cru17 was Oneness. Several speakers talked about our need to facilitate ethnic and cultural diversity in our ministry so that the gospel can go to all people. The gospel is the solution to the causes of racial and ethnic division that rock our nation. Please pray for us and for our new laborers to facilitate healing and change.

You can also experience many of the sessions, seminars, and workshops at Cru17.  Click here.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.

Click the following: August 2017 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.


How can God use me?

How can God use me right where I am? This is a question we ask ourselves because we have many commitments, just like you.manymembers

Recently, it has led to Karen helping assist our community to more effectively connect with different ethnic groups to help build relationships through which the gospel message can pass. She is also training and equipping a group of interns who will take the gospel to campuses around the country. I am transitioning to a new role that will help maximize AIA Sport TEAM’s resources to partner with even more organizations in the U.S. and around the world.

Please pray for our family. As we attempt to take back the enemy’s territory, he is on the attack. You are the foundation of what God has done through our ministry. We share the same vision of changing the world through sports by seeing a Christ-follower on every team, in every sport, in every nation.

LoveoneanotherOur summer staff conference has always been one of the best sources of useful and wonderful training. Cru17 will be no different. We will discuss major issues facing the world and the church today. Workshops will provide practical, specific information on a wide range of opportunities to build partnerships. Completing the Great Commission is a greater task than one organization can accomplish alone.

Karen and I are very excited to see how the Lord will use Cru17, and we will be looking for ways to share what we are learning with you. We want to help you make a difference, not just by partnering with us, but wherever the Lord may be leading you.

Did you see our hard copy letter about Cru17?  If you missed it you can see it here.  It’s a blessing to serve with you.

Please pray Cru17 will significantly increase the partnerships for AIA and our ministry.  Follow what’s happening at Cru17 through our social media (Facebook: Rick or Karen) 7/15 – 7/24 or on Cru17 FacebookCru17 Twitter, or Cru17 Instagram.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.

Click the following: July 2017 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Opportunity to Impact

AIA’s Men’s Soccer has been invited to assist with this year’s David Villa Academy (DV7) in Valencia, Spain from May 22 – June 7!AIASoccerCrest.jpg

David Villa is the all-time leading goal scorer for Spain’s National Men’s Soccer team.  His training methods are respected worldwide.  AIA’s main role will be assisting with their player development/leadership training.

This is a huge opportunity for AIA to move our coaching skills to the next level while sharing AIA’s Total Athlete Principles with premier youth soccer players in Spain!  The potential impact these players will have over a lifetime, not only in Spain but around the world will be significant.

The project leadership is super pumped about this opportunity.  Let’s get a glimpse of their perspective.

AIASoccerMen.jpg“I am excited for the tremendous opportunity the tour gives our student athletes to be challenged in their faith. Every tour is different, but in the ways that make my heart sing, they are the same in seeing new followers of Christ come alive on mission for our heavenly Father.” Zach

“I have always wanted to combine my passions for sports medicine and sports ministry in a different country, and I am so thankful that God has given me this opportunity. I am also looking forward to being immersed in the Spanish culture and utilizing the Spanish I have learned throughout college.” Melanie

“Using soccer as a way to tell others about Jesus is an amazing opportunity! For me, I see this as a moment to invest and help others, but the reality is, I know that my heart and life will be changed.” JonathanScreen Shot 2017-04-20 at 3.06.10 PM.png

You also have an opportunity to make an
impact by regularly (daily 5/22 – 6/7) following and sharing in your world about this project.  You can follow the team and their project at  You will also be able to follow on Facebook (Athletes in Action Soccer) and Instagram (aiasoccerusa)

The more we share about the team, the more people will be praying!  Through prayer, God does amazing things.  Don’t you want to be a part?  Please follow the blog, pray, and share through social media or email.  Thank you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.

Click the following: April 2017 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

Perfectly Chosen!

Ashley, an AIA staff member, just returned from a Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 9.18.22 AMvolleyball mission trip she directed in Asia. At the end of their trip, the team of college students took time at a hostel to process and debrief the week: the good, the hard and the divinely inspired.

As the director, it was special for Ashley to look back and to hear the team examine and share their stories, laugh about funny things that occurred and prepare together to head back home, different from this experience. “We talked about what God showed us that we want to take home and bring into our everyday lives.”  “This group was unique and perfectly chosen by God.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 9.18.37 AMGod chose this team for His purposes in each of their lives and on their mission field, but that’s just one project. We watch God do this 30-40 times every year! Three projects have already completed His purposes in 2017 and two are in the field with many more to come.

God hand-selects each team, and every one is different. Just ask the AIA staff members who direct each trip, and they will tell you the stories of how God knits together and designs each team uniquely for His purposes.

Some team members are well-known for their abilities; some Ao1 Imagedon’t yet know the Lord. Most want an opportunity to make a difference in the world, regardless of their skill level, by trusting God to show them how to worship Him through their love of sports. Normally, the team members have never met before, but they finish their project with a lifelong bond. Everyone ultimately learns it’s all about serving for an Audience of One.

Each team has a number of roles that must work together to accomplish their mission. Among them are those who ask the Lord for wisdom, protection, and guidance as the team prepares and goes into the field. Here is where you can join over 30,000 others annually who follow/pray and share AIA’s projects. By visiting, praying and sharing AIA’s team blogs on Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 1.31.36 PMsocial media, you can be not only part of our ministry team, but that of 30 to 40 others as well. We can only imagine how God will use your prayers and sharing in your world and for these teams. Click the image to visit.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.

Click the following: March 2017 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.