Heart, Soul, and Passion


Last month, Kaylyn, whom I coached and who is directing AIA Softball, made her fourth trip to a middle eastern country where she partnered with Competitive Edge and SportsLife to put on a softball mission trip. They worked with the softball national team of the country they visited, which is made up of 20-55 year-old women, mostly moms. Several of these were women they have met on previous trips. The women know that the American team members love Jesus, and they are open to that idea.

During the trip, Kaylyn got to share her heart and soul, her passion, not only for softball, but also for worshiping God through her sport. Rhonda, one of the women on the middle eastern team, had a believing mother, and she herself is now asking, “Who is Jesus?” Pray that the seeds that have been planted will take root.

Another middle eastern softball player recently trusted in Jesus along with her whole family. Kaylyn was able to give her the AIA Five Principles book about how to worship God through sport. The woman responded through her tears, “I can’t get this here. It’s hard to grow in my faith when there are no resources.” Pray for her continued growth in Christ.

During a dinner shared with the middle eastern women, Kaylyn said they were asked questions like: “If what you are telling us is true, Jesus is the human example of God and He is the Messiah?” To which we were able to answer, “Yes! He is.” Pray the women would seek Jesus as their Messiah.

This year, Efrat, whom Kaylyn met on her first trip to this country in 2017, and who has been pretty closed to spiritual things, has been pondering what it means to know God personally. Sandy, their softball contact in the country, was able to share her journey of faith in Jesus and what it means to know Him personally. Pray Efrat would hunger for a personal relationship with Him.

Thank you for your prayers and gifts that enable us to serve the Lord and help others to serve Him. We are grateful for you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following:  November 2022 newsletter hard copy. 

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You fit here!


Adele sharing her testimony

In July, coworkers Karen, Bill and Quinn (whom I coached) led a mission trip to Albania where they partnered with a local church and national Cru staff to put on a basketball, volleyball and soccer sports camp for over 150 Albanian students. Two college seniors went on that trip: Hannah and Adele. Adele was born in Albania and was adopted by a believing family in the U.S. This was her first time back. She grew up watching “Struggle and Triumph: The Prize,” a video produced by AIA featuring the faith stories of world-renowned soccer players. She is also a soccer player. During the camp Adele had a chance to share her testimony. She shared that when she found out she was adopted, she felt purposeless, rejected, and unwanted by her birth mother and her country of origin. But Adele learned that she was wanted and loved by her Creator, whom she now knows.

Students at the Sports Camp

Many of the students who heard Adele’s story came up to her afterward and said they also experienced feelings of being unwanted. Hannah (the other senior) and Alfrieda (a Cru staff member) met with some of those students later for coffee, and two of them prayed to receive Christ. Some of the Albanian students told Adele, “You fit here. We love you. You are wanted here. We’re so excited and happy you’re here.” It was redeeming for her.

Project Team

At least seven people came to Christ during this trip, and there will be others who can now connect to the church in Korçë, Albania. Adele shared her story; others followed up to share the gospel; still others will disciple these new believers. Win, build, send is in the DNA of Athletes in Action, and this trip had it all!

In college, I remember hearing a missionary’s report on the state of world missions. At that time he said there were NO KNOWN Christ followers in the country of Albania. But God has never stopped working. Next month the AIA Global Team will be in Albania to meet with 18 AIA national leaders and to put on a launch event with churches to equip them to start sports ministries. Praise God!

Thank you for your prayers and gifts that enable us to serve the Lord and help others to serve Him. We are grateful for you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following:  October 2022 newsletter hard copy. 

In and Through …


The vision of Athletes in Action is to see God work IN the lives of athletes and THROUGH their lives to bring others to Himself. We help athletes learn to share their testimonies of God’s work in their lives, and we tell their stories too. One way we do this is through the Struggle and Triumph (S & T) Bible, which features the testimonies of athletes from around the world, a presentation of the gospel, and the AIA Five Principles.

These Bibles have been translated into Spanish, Russian, French, Arabic, and recently Amharic, which is spoken in Ethiopia. We have taken the sports Bibles to 30 countries where they’re being used to open doors to international sports federations and in ministry with athletes. Or coworker Cristobal has been able to share S & T Bibles with every player in the premier soccer league in Guatemala! The very last batch of these Bibles is going out, and new international athletes’ stories will be written for publication in a new sports Bible.

Along with some of the S & T devotions which have been translated into many languages and can be read on the Bible app, Karen wrote some of the additional material in the S & T Bible, so she jokes that she wrote the Bible

Several of our AIA coworkers were in Oregon for the World Athletics Championships over the summer where over 1900 athletes from 192 countries competed, and our staff members got to minister to them. Our coworker Tim has personal connections with some Ethiopian athletes, and he got to meet Werkuha, the silver medalist in the steeplechase event.

Tim was able to give Wehkuha S & T Bibles in her native Amharic language (which she is now studying with her teammates), connect her with our Ethiopian AIA director for discipleship when she returned home, and encourage her to reach out to Luisa, a competitor and top athlete in Albania where an AIA ministry was recently started. Werkuha befriended Luisa in the hope of sharing the love of Jesus with her. Our staff were able to provide resources, encouragement, and discipleship training to Werkuha, and she in turn is reaching out to other athletes.

Thank you for your prayers and gifts that enable us to serve the Lord and help others to serve Him. We are grateful for you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following:  September 2022 newsletter hard copy. 

Living a “Sent” Life


Gathering regularly means so much for every family. Until our recent national staff conference in Milwaukee, it had been three long and challenging years since all the Cru ministries were able to gather as a family, face-to-face! The Lord showed up in so many ways as we spent time in worship and prayer, heard messages from His Word and attended seminars to equip us to serve more effectively

We celebrate what God is doing through Cru ministries drawing people to Himself! In 2021 there were 764 million views of the Jesus Film Project with 19 million indicated decisions for Christ! We are releasing our 2,000th language version of the Jesus Film along with 200 other short films, and planning has begun on a new version in 2024. Did you know you can have these FREE resources in your pocket to share any time in all these languages? It’s available in the App store or Google play. Just search Jesus Film Project. There are countless stories of God using short, divine appointments where someone has heard the Good News in their heart language!


Our biggest personal takeaway from the Conference was
 the message on being sent. The #1 way Jesus referred to His Father was “the Father who sent me.” In John 20:21 He said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” If we are honest, we are excited and terrified by that verse.  Heather Holleman’s personal journey of learning what it means to be “sent” is priceless.  Heather talked about having a “rich theology of place” — understanding that wherever God takes us, even through personal pain, there’s more to the story. He may have us there to allow us to connect to a moment in eternity.

Do you ever think, “I must be missing something about being sent,” or feel bad about your role in the Great Commission? Heather shares her journey through these struggles in the tough world of academia. Our original post contained a link to view Heather’s message. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, her session is no longer available. You can get her book “Sent” and many other resources from Heather at heatherholleman.com. By the way, other main sessions from Cru22 are currently at https://www.cru.org/us/en/about/cru22-sessions.html.

Thank you for your prayers and gifts that enable us to serve the Lord and help others to serve Him. We are grateful for you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following:  August 2022 newsletter hard copy. 

We Couldn’t Do It …


Because of your prayer and financial partnership with us, men and women, boys and girls are hearing the gospel and learning to walk with Jesus. We could not do this work without a team partnering with us and sending us out so we can also send others out. Thank you!

Here are highlights from the ministries of a few people you helped send through your partnership.

Marie ministers to collegiate athletes in Puerto Rico. The women’s basketball team now pray together before and after their games, and she holds a AO1 sign at their games to remind them that their play is a gift of worship for their Audience of One.

Marie and some of her team.

Kory builds into student leaders like Zach and Mike at Ohio Dominican who shared the gospel with Ty. After many conversations with them about Jesus, Ty recently received Christ saying he didn’t want another day to pass without saying, “yes” to Jesus. Kory went to prison last weekend. He took a group of athletes to play basketball with inmates as part of a prison ministry. Gang leaders gather to watch and discuss Christian rap videos, and God has blessed the ministry through friendships that have developed and violence that has been reduced in the prison yard as a result.

Kory’s bible study

Vincent, a former linebacker and now chaplain for the Cincinnati Bengals, spoke recently to 100+ youth at Anthony Muñoz’s Impact for Eternity camp, encouraging them to know God’s Word in community with other believers. Vincent and his wife Noel hold a Bible study with players and their wives and girlfriends.

Ashley has been ministering to women’s basketball coaches at the U. of GA and has seen them experience true life change because of their pursuit of Jesus. She also had several athletes attend AIA’s Ultimate Training Camp for the first time with significant growth resulting from the experience.

Kaylyn’s softball team at CIU finished 2nd in the NCCAA World Series where they participated in a service event with underprivileged youth in Kansas City. Several want to partner with a local school in NC when they get back by adopting a class and creating a mentorship program where they can share the love of Jesus through sports.

Hailey works with student athletes at several colleges in the (937) area code, including track and cross country girls at Wright State University. Kaitlyn, one of the runners there, was recently baptized as God placed it on her heart to live her life completely for Him.

Haley’s bible study

Thank you for sending laborers like these into the harvest field.  We are grateful for you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following:  June 2022 hard copy newsletter to print a card copy. 

Shaped for His Purpose


Meet Kaylyn, one of the new staff members Karen coaches. Kaylyn grew up playing softball and played for both D1 and NAIA teams in college. She coached at Columbia International University in Columbia, SC while she completed her master’s degree in organizational leadership and afterward. Kaylyn will lead a new softball department at Athletes in Action’s headquarters in Xenia, OH.

God has shaped her life for this role through adversity and opportunity. In college Kaylyn went on three mission trips to the Middle East with Competitive Edge International. In her role with AIA Softball, she will recruit for, and lead similar mission trips with softball players from around the US. These trips have the dual purpose of sharing Christ in the places they go and discipling the players who go on them.

While Kaylyn is a very positive person, she has been shaped through adversity. Besides losing her final softball season due to covid, Kaylyn had unexplained hearing loss as a child and had to get hearing aids. Sports was her escape because she was athletically gifted and because listening and speaking on the field didn’t mark her as different. Then when she was a high school junior, Kaylyn developed tinnitus in its most severe form, resulting in anxiety and depression. Medication and counseling have helped, but God has given her a desire to use her weakness for His glory, and He is using her story. Because some of her players deal with anxiety, Kaylyn can uniquely minister to them through her openness about her own journey.

Kaylyn currently disciples the players at the Christian college where she coaches. One of her pitchers recently said, “I honestly forgot how much I loved playing the game. It has been so freeing to just worship instead of being caught up in my performance all the time.” Kaylyn says: “I could not have been more excited for her! Seeing this shift happen in her and knowing the work the Lord has been doing in her life is incredible.”

Right now, Kaylyn’s team is in Kansas City, MO at the NAIA softball World Series. Pray for their witness and pray they’ll play for the glory of God.

Thank you for helping us mobilize laborers like Kaylyn to grow God’s kingdom through sports.   We are grateful for you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following:  May 2022 hard copy newsletter to print a card copy. 

It would not be possible without …


AIA Catalytic Ministries, the part of our ministry where Rick serves, is a short-term, direct ministry experience to a specific audience that will start or accelerate a movement-building strategy. Primarily, this is played out through three categories: camps and clinics, training and academies, and team building and retreats.

Each part of Athletes in Action has its own distinctive contribution to reaching “every” and creating movements, and no one staff member is responsible for an athlete’s complete spiritual journey. Sam, pictured below, is a great example of this.

As a wrestler in Indianapolis, Sam came to some Indy AIA events. There, he connected first with our campus staff, and later with our wrestling ministry. Our staff were able to connect him with a scholarship, which gave Sam the chance to travel to Moldova and Ukraine with AIA Wrestling. There he shared his faith, presented his testimony in a juvenile prison and  grew tremendously.

Through Sam, our campus staff continued building relationships with the Indy Men’s Wrestling team and organized a community service project for the athletes to do. This increased trust with the coaching staff, and when our campus staff were given the opportunity to present AIA to the wrestlers and share what we are about, 30 of the 40 student-athletes on the team indicated interest in further involvement.

Multiple touchpoints, events, people, and conversations took place for all this to happen. It was a dynamic movement with lots of moving parts, and much of it wouldn’t have been possible without many team members working together to reach “every” through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This Is what AIA Catalytic Ministry is all about.  Spiritual movement is not only taking place on a national scale, but also around the world. Italy, Albania, Croatia, South Africa, Puerto Rico and Jamaica are our partnering countries for 2022. At minimum, each of these places is post-Christian, under evangelized, and characterized by spiritual darkness. We also have a presence in six restricted countries comprising 3,342 unreached people groups.

Your partnership is impacting the sports world both here and around the world so that one day people from every nation, tribe and language will surround the throne of Jesus to give Him glory.  We are grateful for you!

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following:  April 2022 hard copy Newsletter to print a card copy.