None of them were ready for the day, the final leg in the UTC Special Journey. It would be a one-mile run up a steep hill in the Colorado Mts. All 150 of them knew it was coming. After days of intense physical and mental training with their teams, focusing on AIA’s 5 Principles, it was time for the challenge. But they did not know how it would change everyone involved. This final leg was on their own and would require all they had left to give and more. Halfway through, everyone was dealing with their pain by crying, praying and singing. Then there was Alex, who injured his hip earlier. His heavily wrapped hip was already pulsing with pain and he was moving much slower than everyone else. However, he was determined to finish. Halfway through, Alex dropped to on one knee, exhausted. All hearts sank, but then someone yelled, “God’s got this, Alex. Let Him finish it.” His AIA trainer ran alongside saying, “Who’s with you? Who’s running with you? Who’s running for you?” Everyone started cheering. When Alex finished the course, he collapsed into the arms of his teammates. The UTC experience served to magnify several times over what Christ endured for us. The event culminated in worship with total peace, surrender, and joy. (Story adapted from an AIA UTC 2012 blog posting)
One of the greatest parts of AIA’s global projects is how many ways God’s love can be shown. During our East Africa 2011 project, His love was demonstrated in both words and actions. You might say God’s love materialized in a “concrete” form with the construction of a basketball court.
Now community, ministry, and sports activities that emphasize Christ will be available year round at this facility. Everyone in the area sees this as a gift that will greatly help in the development of their youth.
AIA also shared God’s love by sharing His word using the I’ve Got the Whole Bible in My Heart curriculum at the Soweto Academy. A week-long Bible overview was given to over 400 children. Each student was given his or her own copy of an NIV Bible. It was exciting that some of the children prayed to receive Christ as their Savior in the middle of a class period.
We give God the credit for all this project accomplished. It was a very challenging project, but became a huge answer to prayer for all those involved with the Global Team and Soweto Academy.
I recently had the pleasure of joining AIA’s U.S. Soccer Director, Jim S. who, 15 years ago, followed God’s leading to start a ministry through the game of pro soccer. It all started in Columbus, followed by connecting with teams in Kansas City, L.A., and then Dallas. Jim has been known to say “Let’s Dream”. Well it paid off; today there are over 20 AIA staff / volunteers serving as chaplains around the world of Major League Soccer (MLS). Jim uses a simple model of building relationships and helping the team by affirming and encouraging both players and staff. He visits the team once or twice a week. One of those days Jim leads a Bible study, inviting anyone associated with the team to join.
The potential for world-wide ministry is easy to see. There are 184 players representing 55 countries in the MLS. Given that the number of youth playing soccer in the US has doubled since 1990, the opportunity is big! During the 2010 World Cup Soccer competition, AIA was able to expose over 800 million people around the world to the gospel through broadcasts and distributing DVD copies of “The Prize” . See more about “The Prize” and how it was used to reach the world for Christ by reading our 2010 annual report (Page 7) at AthletesinAction.org. As we serve on AIA’s Global Team, soccer will become an ever-expanding avenue to share the Gospel around the world.
What is God asking you to dream about?