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Just the Beginning

Published on February 10, 2015

Sarah Rennicke

This is just the beginning for FCA Guatemala.

New FCA international affiliate Veronica Ochoa’s connections to national athletic committees and organizations have brought her into fertile territory to minister to the athletes of her country.

Veronica Ochoa and Jim Roquemore at the Guatemalan swearing in ceremony for the Central American and Caribbean Games.
Veronica Ochoa and Jim Roquemore at the Guatemalan swearing in ceremony for the Central American and Caribbean Games.

Most recently, Ochoa and FCA Latin America Coordinator Jim Roquemore were invited to the Guatemalan swearing in ceremony for the Central American and Caribbean Games in November, where they distributed 500 Heart of an Athlete devotional books in Spanish.

The athletes, used to receiving handouts, took the books to help prepare them before and after competition. Upon completion of the games, Ochoa received testimonies from medal winners Ilce Diaz and Bryan Bonilla.

Diaz, two-time bronze medalist in Karate-Do, said, “During the games, I read the Heart of an Athlete devotional every morning and it helped me to concentrate, and I felt peace.”

Squash bronze medalist Bonilla expressed similar thoughts and a desire to become part of FCA.

“I read the devotional every morning to help control my fear to lose.”

Big strides for the burgeoning ministry, the relationship between FCA and other ministries and organizations in Guatemala did not happen overnight. Ochoa had a big vision to conduct conferences for sports leaders, knit together with her gifts of networking and organization, but couldn’t do it without the help of other leaders with a similar desire to impact high caliber athletes.

Her journey began in 2012, while interviewing at a family-owned radio corporation with 16 stations scattered across the country. Though she didn’t take the job offered, she expressed interest in the social area and was put in contact with someone at the corporation.

“I told her about children and youth in sports and how I wanted to equip leaders and give inspiration and experience of national leaders, but I didn’t know how to do it,” she said. “I wasn’t trained or equipped.”

Together, they worked to form the initial conference, but the radio corporation was skeptic, thinking they wanted to press religion onto the people. When 1,000 people attended, though, they saw the heart of the ministry and believed they truly wanted to help and serve.

“You go in and share truth, and the gospel is entwined in it, but it’s not blatantly in your face, if you will,” said Roquemore, who helps facilitate FCA across Latin America. “Yet it intrigues leaders enough to want to dive into more training.”

In the event’s second year, Dan Britton, FCA’s Vice President of International and Training, spoke. Ochoa felt it was important to open with a known speaker in the International Sports Coalition world.

“To get the influential leaders on board, we needed to bring in leaders from international. Then we plan to establish in-country leadership,” Ochoa said.

Athletes with the Heart of an Athlete devotional book.
Athletes with the Heart of an Athlete devotional book.

Registration closed a week early for the 2014 worship service when they reached the 1,000 person capacity. While the first conference was open to the public, Ochoa and her committee made a few purposeful adjustments that focused on inviting sports world leaders, with intent on building partnerships.

“The purpose was to get connected, get to know people,” she said. “Eighty percent was non-governmental organizations, and 20 percent was the radio corporation audience.”

These conferences, and the accompanying relationships, have led to plenty of opportunities for outreach with Guatemalan national and Olympic teams.

Roquemore is excited for the talents and gifts Ochoa brings to the people of Guatemala and FCA.

“Both Dan and I realized she would be a valuable asset to FCA and we wanted to come alongside her, support her in her leadership in Guatemala,” he said.

FCA is helping to expand her vision, as well as equip her in training.

Ochoa sees a need to share Christ with athletes and sports leaders throughout Guatemala, and with her various connections, a new field has opened to impact the people of her country.

She sees sports as the main platform and tool for reaching out.

“It is a special moment we are living in,” she said. “We see God working. God really wants to do something in the country and we need to respond.”

Ochoa gets the big picture.

“When Jesus was passing by Jerusalem, He was crying for those who didn’t know their King,” she said. “In prayer, I understood why it is happy to pray to the Holy Spirit—He moves and we do what we need. I don’t want to lament the moment that passed by.”