Pastor Gary Visitacion is passionate about discipling leaders. He is full of boundless energy, a heart overflowing with gratefulness with a quick sense of humor.
His faith started through sports, when the Philippines national basketball team played a team from the U.S. through a travel mission group. At halftime, when one of the players strummed his guitar and offered an invitation to know God, something clicked inside Pastor Gary’s heart. Before that moment, he equated sports and faith as separate, but a vision sprang to life as he realized just how intertwined they could be.
When he became a pastor, the first thing he did was begin sports ministry. A former athlete, it was an area he already knew well. At the same time, Pastor Gary was also working with the same organization that played a role in his salvation. He’d travel across the country setting up team visits, as God continued to press upon his heart that hope of Christ could be found through sports.
In 2009, Pastor Gary had the opportunity to attend the NCAA Final Four in Detroit. He strolled through conference center full of booths, but it was one specific table that caught his eye: Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
He and the FCA staff person behind the table struck a conversation and Pastor Gary quickly learned how similar it was to his organization. But what piqued his interest was their abundance of resources and discipleship. After further conversation, the FCA staff person, Dan Britton, current Executive Director of International Ministry, invited him to visit the National Support Center in Kansas City, Missouri, to meet the then-FCA International Director, Barry Spofford.
Pastor Gary planned his visit, and when he learned more about the ministry, his excitement grew.
“It was like being at kid at an ice cream shop,” he said. “My eyes were huge and I said, ‘This is what I need!’”
When he walked away with a plethora of resources, Pastor Gary also took away a revived sense of God’s nudging that FCA would play an important part in his life.
Once back in the Philippines, he and Spofford exchanged emails and discussed ministry vision. Then, in 2010, he got the green light to spearhead FCA Philippines.
Two initial presentations were given to introduce FCA to the country, one in Manila and another in Cebu, with 70-80 coaches in attendance. Ministry was quickly growing, and three years into his part-time role, Pastor Gary sensed a shift in calling. After prayer and discussion with his wife, he stepped away from his organization and launched into FCA full-time.
In Pastor Gary’s nine years serving, FCA has been established in 14 cities with area representatives running each city’s ministries.
Mention training leaders to Pastor Gary and his eyes ignite. He has a penchant for empowering people in leadership, leveraging the pivotal role of a coach that can reach hearts across all 7,101 islands that make up the Philippines.
Grace and Gary Visitacion
Pastor Gary knows the depths of faith that can be reached building relationships through sports. The methods are tried and true.
“I know it works, because it happened to me,” he said. “I’m a product of sports ministry.”
For Pastor Gary, the purpose is simple: obedience to where God has placed him. He believes it wasn’t an accident God connected him to FCA, why he met Britton at a table in the middle of Michigan, halfway across the world from home.
“[God] tested me for 28 years as a pastor/evangelist,” Pastor Gary said. “Now, He wants me to be a teacher. The only way I can be an effective teacher is through training and support. And that’s where FCA has filled in the gaps.”
Nothing gives Pastor Gary greater pleasure than to see the shape of leaders’ hearts develop and spread through sports ministry. He sees FCA as a ministry of love, fueled by joy in combining athletics, relationship and God into one great calling.
“Filipinos, we love to work. We like to have fun. And we like sports,” he said. “If you ask me, ‘Are you enjoying it?’ I would say, ‘Definitely.’”
To learn more about FCA Philippines or get involved, visit their website: fcaphilippines.org
Photos courtesy of FCA Philippines