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No Turning Back

Published on March 15, 2016

by Sarah Rennicke

In the quiet of a conference room half a world away, if you tune your ear soft enough, you’ll hear echoes of an old worship song still reverberating between pillars and floorboards.

I have decided to follow Jesus

I have decided to follow Jesus

I have decided to follow Jesus

No turning back

No turning back

Sung by the faithful gathered to leverage their position in sports ministry leadership in their countries, these hearts anchor to the lyrics and take hold of their core, truly defining their commitment to the call of Christ.

Airplanes, trains, taxis, and, in extreme cases, by foot. Whatever means of transportation it took to get to Bangkok, Thailand, international FCA leaders from 16 countries made sure they were present for the 2016 FCA International Capacity Conference.

DSC_1204_edited-1Staff from the U.S. presented core FCA fundamental training and resources, brand new concepts for the international leaders, for whom the conference marked their first training with FCA. Board development, fitness leadership, fundraising, 3D Coaching and camps, among others, were discussed and provided fodder for enlightening conversation on cultural adaptation of these lessons to best fit natural country practices while ministering in sport.

The leaders picked up pens to scribble into notebooks and snapped photos of slides, eager to soak in the rich knowledge and resources of FCA.

The first conference held off U.S. soil, FCA International Executive Vice President Dan Britton and his office poured into these [FCA founder] Don McClanen’s of their countries, the feet on the ground toeing front lines of difficult ministry grounds.

Since spread across continents, the only FCA contact of some international leaders has been the international office in Kansas City or with the other members of their region. The week brought together sports-minded ministers of the faith who are fighting the same good fight across the globe. They cultivated fresh friendships and prayer partners to solidify the purpose of all in attendance—to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.

Reminiscent of Holy Spirit flames at Pentecost, where wind rushed in and filled lungs with languages to amaze the people and draw them to God, days began with Morning Glory prayer and worship, a call to God on behalf of coaches, athletes, donors, and countries. The worship leader, also an international leader, urged voices to put power behind the words flashed onscreen and sing like they meant it.

Though none go with me, still I will follow

I have decided to follow Jesus

No turning back

No turning back

 

These are the modern-day apostles, sent to the corners of the earth.

And some of these followers do quite literally embody the lyrics, reaching out to hurting hearts underneath the jersey while carrying their cross alone. With limited funds, volunteers and resources, their fire continues to burn to bring Jesus to desperate souls.

DSC_1193_edited-1Stories of testimonies circulated through the week—sacrifices willingly given for the sake of spreading the gospel. Joining FCA from finding an FCA book in a second-hand bookshop. Dying dreams to till the soil for God’s personal vision to sprout in His servants. A freedom of learning that sports and faith can indeed entwine.  

During Huddle time, coffee breaks, meals and minutes in between, leaders mingled and laughed, sharing life together. Sixteen countries knit together in one purpose—furthering God’s kingdom through sports ministry.

On the last night, staff took turns sharing what the week meant to them.

“Ministry is a spiritual battle,” FCA Philippines Director Gary noted. “These four days have been like a spiritual hospital for me.”

“There may be short term suffering for long term relief,” Singapore Director Reon acknowledged. And William from Southeast Asia explained how God opens the doors for His servants and they go, wherever those openings lead, and often by themselves. The conference gave respite to weary souls. “I feel so embraced here,” he added.

Everyone has something specific God has called them to, and FCA International leaders serve their parts faithfully, counting loss as gain and pain as purpose. Enveloped by their brothers and sisters through a week of equipping and strengthening, their lives bear witness to the weighty decision to follow Jesus, whatever the cost. 

Mocked by loved ones for their faith.

(The world behind me, the cross before me)

Imprisonment, considered part of the call.

(The world behind me, the cross before me)

Tension with the church, which should be ministry’s biggest supporter.

(The world behind me, the cross before me)

They have collided with Christ, hearts wrecked for their country.

(No turning back, no turning back)

 

No turning back. Only striding forward, voices sure and strong.



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