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! 

Thousands More


About 80% of people in the world play, watch or read about sports, so it is an effective platform for sharing the gospel. AIA currently has staff in 60 countries where we constantly strive to reach people with the gospel and to disciple them so they can reach others. In ⅓ of those countries we are focusing on a new paradigm to involve and equip more laborers for the harvest. The dual approach is to equip churches to reach their communities through sports ministry and to develop volunteer chaplains to minister to professional sports teams.

Adam, Jan 2020 Newsletter

Adam is the tall one. Piedad is on the right.

AIA staff member Adam K. recently traveled to Cali, Colombia, where he led the first sports chaplaincy conference there. At the 2008 Olympics, Adam met Piedad, the AIA country leader in Colombia. She has over 40 volunteers serving with AIA in her country. Adam partnered with Piedad to train over 20 new volunteer chaplains. Adam says, “I can’t imagine a finer group of like-minded Christ-followers to pioneer this new strategy in Colombia where we envision thousands more being raised up to point others to Jesus.”

“There is brokenness in sport,” Adam says. “Athletes are struggling in their personal lives and their personal development, and owners want their teams to have good reputations.” Because God has blessed, AIA is held in high regard around the world. Competing teams we have sent on mission trips have played a part, as have the good character and spiritual maturity of national staff members who have had much influence in the world of sports.

Adam, Jan 2020, group

AIA has provided chaplains for the Olympics since 1966 and chaplains for US pro teams, and we are praying for God’s favor and grace for international pro teams to agree to allow chaplains to serve them. We are trying to establish relationships with coaches, sports federation presidents, team owners and others to see sustainable, on-going ministry in countries around the world.

We will never have enough staff members to reach the entire world with the gospel, so creative ideas are required to involve more people in fulfilling the Great Commission to “make disciples of all nations.” Pray with us for more laborers.

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

Praise God for Adam and others who are pouring out their lives to reach another generation for Christ around the world!
We appreciate your partnership. We love you!

 

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.