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.

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Celebrating life change around the world / Nov 2013 Newsletter


At the recent global sports fall retreat, our team of thirty-four staff members celebrated how God was changing lives and touching hearts of people around the world. One example was the college student who described a tour’s impact on his life like this:  Nov 2013 Quote

Imagine similar stories repeated after 33 mission projects with competitive teams and sports clinics through seven different sports in more than 20 countries!  AIA offers uncommon opportunities for athletes to share their love of Jesus and sports through cross-cultural ministry. Ivory Coast Team 2013 Each project enhanced opportunities for ongoing ministry through outreaches and humanitarian aid, and each one helped students learn to share their faith.

It was my (Rick’s) privilege to serve these teams by assisting their missions’ projects, running the AIA team blog site, and2013 Global Sports Highlights managing communication roles for global sports ministry.   One of my latest projects was developing materials for our teams during our 2013 Fall Retreat mentioned above.  To God be the Glory!  Your prayers/support help make this happen!

Please review our prayer page and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following:  Nov 2013 to  print a hard copy newsletter.

The Hill of Transformation / May 2012 Newsletter


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)

Please review our prayer page and support needs links and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following:  May 2012 to print a hard copy newsletter.

Going beyond sports / Apr 2012 Newsletter


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.

Why Sports Ministry Matters


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.

What can I do? / Mar 2012 Newsletter


It seemed like it took a half hour for Ellie to get through security at the airport on Saturday.   She had a bunch of change in her book bag.  You know how it is working with the TSA.  As we walked out of the airport, I remember thinking, here we go!  Part of me trusts the Lord for everything that will go on during the next twelve days of the St. Petersburg, Russia English Camp.  At same time, the list of things that could happen grows every time I consider the possibilities.  So even though it’s Ellie’s third project, I find myself at the same crossroads.  Do I put on the shoes of readiness from Eph. 6:15 as a part of the Armor of God and experience the gospel of peace, or do I choose the path of anxiety?

The New Testament definition for anxiety means to be “double- minded.”  I realize from this point until Ellie returns is out of my control.  Parents often face this situation.  I also realize worrying will not make a difference and will only ruin my day, so I need to decide to give this to God, flee the temptation (1 Cor. 10:13), and trust the Lord (Prov. 3:5-6). The only way I can do this is to pray and ask the Lord to fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit to believe in Him.

Lord, thank you for your Word, and the power to experience victory over worry.  If you relate to being double-minded or dealing with anxiety, click on “Why Worry?”.

Please review our prayer page and support needs links and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following:  Mar 2012  to print a hard copy newsletter.

Listening to Your Hero!


Whom do you really admire as the best at what they do?  Now imagine hearing that person share his or her faith journey first-hand while sharing a great meal.  Each year AIA holds its Legends Series of outreaches to the business and sporting community.  They are attended by thousands, with honorees sharing their journey to faith in Christ and a clear invitation to receive Christ.  When your hero speaks, don’t you pay close attention?  That’s why this is such a compelling ministry.

The Super Bowl Breakfast features speakers and special guests from the NFL, both past and present, and the presentation of the Bart Starr Award.

The NBA All-Star Game Breakfast gives attendees the opportunity to get “up close and personal” with NBA coaches and players, and honors athletes for exemplary leadership, character, and integrity.

The Legends of the Hardwood Breakfast is hosted by AIA and FCA. The event features speakers and special guests from the world of basketball, and the presentation of the Coach Wooden “Keys to Life” Award.

Held at AIA World Headquarters in Xenia, Ohio, the Night of Champions includes inductions into AIA’s “Hall of Faith,” an elite honor given to athletes or coaches who display exemplary character in the game, in their families, and in the community.

Want to know more?  Contact Dave Lower at (513) 404-9956 or at dave.lower@athletesinaction.org.