Sharing Olympic-sized Faith Stories
On February 1, 2014, the Barna [Research] Group reported that Americans believe professional athletes influence society more than pastors “by more than a three-to-one margin.” Because athletes have so much influence in our culture, Athletes in Action strives to reach these men and women with the gospel, help them to grow in their faith, and then help them share their faith with others. I (Karen) recently had the privilege of interviewing four-time-Olympian Lauryn Williams about her relationship with Jesus. After writing her story, I posted it online so that anyone looking for information about Lauryn or her sport can find it, and you can read about it here. It was announced yesterday (2/8) that Lauryn will be pushing the #1 bobsled at Sochi driver and fellow believer Elana Meyers! Read about it here.
Free App for Winter Olympians’ Stories
AIA and The JESUS Film Project are partnering to bring the faith stories of Winter Olympians directly into the hands of smartphone users. Through the FREE Jesus Film Media app, videos of the Olympic athletes will join a library of more than 66,000 video clips in some 1,100 languages.
Download the Jesus Film Media app now by going to app.jesusfilmmedia.org on your smartphone or search “Jesus Film Media” in the app store. For more information, go here. You can also use this app to share the JESUS Film itself with people in over 1,900 languages which comprise 91% of the world’s languages.
We value staying in touch with you. In the next few weeks, like many families we will be dropping our home phone number. Please make a note of this change and use our cell numbers. You can find them by using the link Feb 2014 below. If YOU have changed numbers, would you let us know by calling or sending an email soon?
Please review our prayer page and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord. Click the following: Feb 2014 to print a hard copy newsletter.
A million spectators attended the trials and finals of the men’s and women’s road cycling races at the 2012 Olympics. Cycling as a sport and recreational outlet continues to grow in popularity. In the US, it’s strongest growth is in the larger cities and in the western states, especially among 25 to 64-year-old men. So how popular is cycling? Who does not know Lance Armstrong? Yet, according to a 40 year veteran AIA staffer, “cyclists are the biggest unreached group in the world of sports.”
Imagine how many lives might be touched with the message of God’s love if Lance Armstrong were a Christ-follower? Be encouraged; God is moving. He has raised up an insider to this world who is starting a ministry through AIA Global Sports.
Todd competed in the world of cycling for six years before God called him into a ministry to his fellow athletes. He is keenly in touch with the pioneering reality surrounding God’s call to this sport. “Cycling is a very ego-driven sport
because you are out there on your own and these guys have sacrificed so much of their lives in training for this sport that it is hard for them to rely upon anyone or anything other than themselves.” However, Todd has connections to a small core of talented upcoming cyclists who are Christ-followers. This is critical to have an impact in cycling. You must start at the top with the heroes everyone is trying to emulate.
We will share more about this new ministry. In the meantime, please pray for Todd and all those who are stepping into this pioneering ministry.
‘Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God’s love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out His wonderful plan of love.’” Eric Liddell
During the 1924 Olympics, England’s Liddell was favored to win gold in the 100 meters. Then the heats were moved to Sunday. No big deal right? Not for Liddell. He reserved Sundays for worship and rest to honor the Lord. Liddell voluntarily withdrew, despite the consequences. Ultimately, Liddell won two medals in the 200 and 400 meters. See Liddell’s story in the movie Chariots of Fire.
Now, eighty-eight years later, Liddell’s legendary character and faith have become the inspiration for the first More Than Gold Legacy Breakfast held at the 2012 Olympics. Athletes in Action co-sponsored the event which honored Debbie Flood and Bryan Clay for their character, sports excellence, and faith in Christ, as the first recipients of the Eric Liddell Award. Several other Olympians also shared.
Depending on your source, 300 – 550 people heard how faith in Christ is far more important in life than medals and fame. Only 300 out of 10,000 Olympians received a medal, but all will be heroes back home. It’s our hearts desire that these heroes will be seen looking up to God as they live out their lives back home.
What appeared to be a disaster for Eric Liddell, God continues to use to His Glory.
In three weeks the world will be focused once again on the Summer Olympics from July 27 through August 12. Approximately 12,000 sports heroes from over 200 countries will be competing in over 300 events for sports glory. Each of them will become leaders in their home countries. AIA staff and volunteers have been preparing for quite some time, but we still need one more piece for our team to be ready.
What’s the missing piece?
Aaron W. Carter 2012
We need prayer warriors who will lift up each Olympian, praying for God to work in the life of each person to accomplish His plan of reconciliation for the world. James tells us that the prayer of a righteous person is “powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) When we fail to pray, we limit God’s blessing by our own weaknesses. James said, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2) Just as Moses prayed in Exodus 32, YOU have an opportunity to save the lives of many by asking the Lord to draw them into a relationship with Him.
How can you make a difference?
Click on Prayer Partner Sign-Up to be given several Olympians you can pray for by name. You will also find resources such as a Prayer Card that can be shared with your friends
at church, and access to AIA’s 2012 Prayer Guide where you can learn more about the ministry strategies being used at the London Summer Olympics. You can even follow along as staff and volunteers share through our Olympic Team Blog.
Rico’s story: “God put on my heart years ago a passion for basketball and for people. After college, I didn’t know what to do next.” Rico was not aware of Athletes in Action (AIA) as he entered graduate school, but was an assistant basketball coach. However, he knew something was missing. Then Rico learned about AIA while preparing for an upcoming game and later took part in a basketball tour. “I was able to finally realize that basketball is my way of worship back to God and my avenue to display Christ … basketball is a talent that God gave me to use for His glory. Through that, I was able to share the gospel through playing basketball God’s way and see whole teams give their lives to Christ.” (Photo Credit: AIA, Rico on right)
Imagine being part of a team who connects up to a thousand volunteers like Rico to 30 – 40 missions projects each year. Each of these projects touches countless lives with the gospel, discipleship and training. That is exactly what the Global Sports Teams and our partners are accomplishing. A big part of our job description is to give direction and organization to AIA’s Global Sports Teams communications. We have the opportunity to connect people with amazing ways and places to share the gospel. Imagine the difference we can have together?
Thank you to all those who are partnering with us. Want to get involved? You can make a difference by going to our Eternal Investments page.
Last May I had the privilege of serving at an evening filled with real life examples of dedication, love, and humility. It was a celebration of two athletes who shared God’s transforming power in their lives and the journey of learning to live out their faith daily. What a contrast to today’s sports headlines.
Frank Reich, one of the inductees, framed the key to his walk of faith this way; “We have all been watching the news about Osama bin Laden. The other day I saw an interview with a former Navy Seal. He said it is all about the men and the mission. I am here to tell you I feel the same way,” Reich said. “Each one of us has challenges we face all of the time. I am praying every day to find strength and courage through God.” Frank chose to live out his faith daily, and everyone noticed, including Jim Kelly, who gave his life to Christ because of Frank’s example of faith when they played with the Buffalo Bills.
Frank was sharing with over 400 sports fans and professionals, many of whom will likely not be in a church anytime soon.
Please lift up the 2012 Night of Champions (NOC) to be held on May 12th at AIA in Xenia, OH. This year’s inductees will be Tamika Catchings and Clark Kellogg.
Together, we are changing lives just like Frank as we live out our faith each day.
Please review our prayer page and support needs links and lift up our ministry to the Lord. Click the following: Apr 2012 to print a hard copy newsletter.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino‘s moral failure is the latest high-profile example of why sports ministry is so critically needed in reaching people for Christ. Can we begin to imagine the impact of Petrino’s decisions on his family, staff, athletes, fans and countless others? It will be difficult to overestimate. What’s worse is that moral failures are not isolated to college football; it’s occurring in most sports around the world. Petrino and many other coaches and athletes have become heroes or role models. Unfortunately, Coach Petrino’s choices will serve as a negative example. What if someone had helped him to know and follow Jesus?
This is why Karen and I serve with the Global Sports Team of Athletes in Action (AIA), the sports-based ministry of Cru. Since 1967, AIA has been sharing the good news, discipling athletes and coaches, and challenging them to use their influence to advance the kingdom of God. Our mission is to have a Christ-follower on every team, in every sport, in every nation. To fulfill this mission, AIA is winning athletes, coaches and sports fans to Christ, and they are changing the world.
Since athletes are heroes, those who know Jesus have unprecedented opportunities to be His ambassadors, and WE together with YOU, our ministry partners, get to help facilitate that.
If you want to learn more about AIA, our ministry or how to make a difference, go to Eternal Investments and contact us.