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.

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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.

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Competition and the Gospel


In 2016 Rob, an AIA staffer, took a group of students on a mission trip to Central Asia. At one place they wrestled, the host country coach asked Rob if he could bring a team to wrestle in the U.S. Plans were made to bring 14 wrestlers and coaches to the U.S., but only two could get visas, including K., a skilled wrestler who really wanted to compete here.

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So K. came and lived with Rob’s family for two months. Rob took K. to several schools to attend practices and work with many wrestlers. Because K. was such a good wrestler, he was invited by a major Division I university to stay and compete with their athletes because “iron sharpens iron,” and the coaches knew K. would be able to give their wrestlers serious competition. The head coach, assistant coach and numerous wrestlers on that team are believers who understood the opportunity to influence this young man’s life with Christ’s love.

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His six-month visa expired, so K. went home country, but Rob made a connection at another school where K. is now training with two AIA alumni. K. recently competed at the Dave Schultz Memorial International tournament at the Olympic Training Center. Rob asked BJ, a great wrestler he knew who is a Christian, for the loan of a couple singlets since K. hadn’t brought any. BJ didn’t loan, but gave K. two! Later Rob connected with BJ’s coach, an Olympic champion and a strong believer, to thank him. They hadn’t met before, but this coach had heard about Rob’s trip to Central Asia and wanted to send the guys he coaches on their next trip.

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Through all of these relationships, God is opening doors for the gospel. Staff members like Rob are taking every opportunity to connect with others to widely sow the seeds of the gospel. Competitive trips like the Central Asia one serve several purposes: they give American athletes a chance to compete worldwide while giving them extraordinary opportunities for discipleship, fellowship and evangelism; they enable students to see and participate as God draws people to Himself; they serve as a catalyst to ministry in other countries; and they give American students a vision for reaching their own campuses once they return home.  Each year the Sports T.E.A.M. division of AIA sends out 30 – 40 mission projects like this one.  Rick’s role is to help make these trips more effective. 

We are deeply grateful for your partnership!
Thank you for helping us mobilize labors for the harvest.

Please review our prayer page  and support needs and lift up our ministry to the Lord.  Click the following: March 2019 newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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 Goaia.org’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 Goaia.org’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.

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.

I’d Have Been Lost …


We’ve had a week of moving: Elizabeth to her dorm at OU, Annie from one apartment to another at EMU, and beds from our house to OSU campus for some international students. Some things were too big or too heavy to carry alone, but with help, I could do it.IMG_7220.JPG

This describes my role all summer as a coach for eight young women who have been raising support for one-year internships with AIA. I have been discipling, equipping and encouraging them as they have taken greater steps of faith than ever. One intern said, “Having you as my coach enabled me to stay on track and be encouraged and motivated while growing in my relationship with the Lord.

You provided accountability, encouragement and wisdom as you shared your own experiences and prayed with me. I would have been completely lost without your help.” For them to do this alone would have been overwhelming, but with help, it was doable.

Through your partnership with us, you have enabled us to mobilize Christ-centered laborers who are eager to be sent into the harvest field. Another highlight of our summer was Cru17, our national staff conference celebrating the theme “With.” Our focus was on partnerships so that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations…” (Matthew 24:14). It was a treat to see four interns I have coached in the past going overseas or joining our staff long term.

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 9.29.31 AM.pngA major focus of Cru17 was Oneness. Several speakers talked about our need to facilitate ethnic and cultural diversity in our ministry so that the gospel can go to all people. The gospel is the solution to the causes of racial and ethnic division that rock our nation. Please pray for us and for our new laborers to facilitate healing and change.

You can also experience many of the sessions, seminars, and workshops at Cru17.  Click here.

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

Click the following: August 2017 Newsletter to print a hard copy newsletter.