You’re Sending Laborers

At Cru headquarters in Orlando stands a sign that reads: “Boldly proclaim Jesus Christ and His life-changing love and truth to every person, and urgently mobilize co-laborers for the global harvest.”


A few weeks ago, I (Karen) had the privilege of traveling to Cru’s headquarters to meet a group of about two dozen men and women from their 20’s to their 60’s who have responded to God’s call on their lives to proclaim the gospel all over the world. This newest group of staff met in Orlando to receive training to assemble a team of prayer and financial partners so that they can report to their assignments. They will be serving with Athletes in Action and eight other Cru ministries which all share the vision of building spiritual movements everywhere so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.


The AIA staff who participated are assigned to campuses in Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Florida, Minnesota, Texas and Rhode Island. Because of their presence on these campuses, athletes will hear the gospel, be discipled and begin reaching their friends, their teams, their campuses and the world with the gospel.


I am working with a group of these new AIA staff to encourage, disciple and help them prepare to win, build and send multiplying disciples into the harvest. I love working with them, helping them to be accountable, cheering them on and encouraging them take leaps of faith and obedience to Jesus. They are taking initiative to reach out to everyone they know in the power of the Holy Spirit to invite them to be part of changing the world for the glory of God. This week I have heard comments from my interns like, “I really needed to hear that,” “Our conversation was a game changer,” and “I thank God for your help.” Thank you for helping us mobilize laborers for the harvest!


Interns in the midst of their training weekend.

Our new address is 6300 Sedge LN, Hilliard, OH 43026-2111. Update our contact info.

Your support impacts countless lives with the gospel every day!

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

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


This camp is SPECIAL

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This summer Rick assisted with an Ultimate Training Camp in Xenia, OH. At five U.S. locations, 385 high school and college students participated in this high-intensity sports camp created by AIA to help them learn to blend faith and sport on the field of competition. At each UTC we teach athletes five biblical principles regarding winning and losing, attitude, motivation, perseverance and how to worship God through their sports.

The athletes hear speakers, spend time in God’s Word, try out the principles in practical labs and finish out the week with a 20-hour sports competition (the SPECIAL) designed to help them meditate on what Jesus suffered to purchase their salvation.

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Caroline, a high school camper said, “God helped me battle negative thoughts and things I had put ahead of God in my life. He gave me strength for the SPECIAL.” Anita, her mom, enjoyed following along during the week through the blog (which Rick produced, you walk through the UTC by going to and said, “I am so proud of the girls for doing this. What a great experience for them!”

The intense SPECIAL helped Brooke at the Southern California UTC understand that “no matter how talented or motivated we are as athletes, we cannot carry our own burdens, and we must surrender and fully trust God.”

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This summer, 64 athletes made a first-time decision to surrender their lives to Jesus. Zin, from Rice University said, “the Holy Spirit has been tugging at my heart. I finally made the decision to listen and respond because of all the amazing people I met at UTC.” Zin had attended a weekly track Bible study, a small group and AIA events and felt she was almost “perfect” enough to have a relationship with Jesus. Ashley, an AIA staff member Karen had coached as an intern, told Zin, “You don’t have to be perfect, good enough or ready to have a relationship with Jesus; truth is, you never will be any of those things!” Zin was so relieved that Jesus already paid it all, and she left the UTC a new creation in Christ.

Our new address is 6300 Sedge LN, Hilliard, OH 43026-2111. Update our contact info.

Your support impacts countless lives with the gospel every day!

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

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

Christ-Followers on EVERY Team

The vision of Athletes in Action is a Christ-follower on every team, in every sport in every nation. This is happening through people like Lauren, an intern I coached last year who was a runner at DePaul U. in Chicago. She was involved with Cru, but there was nothing for athletes. A friend invited her to AIA at Northwestern U. After graduation, God called her to serve a year internship with AIA. As a DePaul alum, she could help open ministry on her campus. Over the past year, Lauren has seen the ministry grow from a few students to a thriving community including athletes from almost every team oncampus.

Lauren - Chim July 2018 Newsletter.jpg

Seeking biblical unity and oneness is a core value of AIA. During her internship Lauren has lived out this value through her relationship with Chim, a runner from Zimbabwe. Chim says everyone in Zimbabwe has heard of God, but she had no understanding of the gospel. She told Lauren, “I don’t know what I would have done if you had not helped me understand that the gospel was personal — that I could know God personally.” Through their friendship, Lauren has experienced huge personal growth as she strove to understand Chim’s struggles as a black athlete in America. Chim was able to teach Lauren about oneness even as Lauren has discipled her.

Fresh Swim Team UIC July Newsletter

A major reason she decided to intern for a second year has been Lauren’s opportunity to help open ministry on a new campus — the U. of Illinois Chicago. She initially approached the swim team to share about AIA. Afterward, Lauren shared the gospel with Nikki, an interested freshman whose life dramatically changed when Lauren discipled her and taught her how she could walk with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Nikki and some other freshmen invited 12 of their teammates to join them in a Bible study which Nikki co-led. Four key freshman leaders now have a vision for reaching their campus for Christ.

As of August 1st our new address will be 6300 Sedge Lane, Hilliard, OH 43026. A correction from last month.

Your support impacts countless lives with the gospel every day!

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

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

74 Days this summer

This summer Athletes in Action will have at least one missions project in the field from May 15th to August 27th. . There will be 40 teams serving in 30 countries from New Zealand to South Africa to Poland. Right now, Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 9.20.12 AM.pngthe Poland Basketball and Ivory Coast Volleyball teams are conducting their training camps in Xenia. In addition, our men’s soccer project to Portugal and East Asia basketball teams are in country. Get a glimpse into their mission by going to’s Opportunity Blog. My role continues to be providing financial/operational insights to help each team complete their mission.

Our basketball ministry just put on a Men’s Captain’s Academy where 21 athletes spent five intense days learning how to integrate their faith and love of basketball to help them Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 9.22.10 AM.pngbecome not only leaders on their teams, but to become all God wants them to be for life.

In June and July there will be Ultimate Training Camps and leadership projects on our Xenia campus. I (Rick) am blogging for the high school Ultimate Training Camp (UTC), June 24th-30th.  Last year 28 of 75 athletes accepted Christ! Follow this year’s project now at’s High School UTC and ask the Lord to change the lives of those attending the 2018 camp.

On the homefront, we celebrated Annie’s graduation from Eastern Michigan U., and Aaron is finished with high school. Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 9.59.42 AM.pngWe have also been working the last few months to sell our home and downsize. We plan to list May 31st and then live in an apartment for at least a year. As of August 1st our new address will be 4300 Sedge Lane, Hilliard, OH 43026.

Your support impacts countless lives with the gospel every day!

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

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

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.