For Yolanda Whitaker, an unexpected foray into sports ministry started with a prayer.
“I want to do more for You, Christ. I want to do more for my church.”
One week later, Whitaker was asked to be part of her church soccer team in the Cayman Islands. Some young men from the community came to play, and afterwards she had an opportunity to invite them to church. Yolanda suddenly realized that she had participated in her first sports outreach.
“I didn’t know anything about sports ministry,” she says. “But some of the players from the area started coming to church and got baptized. It was very exciting to see how God was using sports to draw people to Him.”
That was in October of 2015. Over the next five years, Whitaker studied sports ministry online and reached out to some organizations for advice and assistance. She also completed a program in theology studies in preparation for whatever God might do next.
“Sports ministry is new in the Caymans,” Whitaker says. “I feel like I’m pioneering the idea of sports outreach and evangelism here.”
Whitaker’s passion for sports began when she was a twelve-year-old girl playing soccer for the first time. That’s also how she found the love of her life. Whitaker met her husband Alfredo twenty-five years ago on the soccer field. Alfredo is a retired professional goalkeeper who played in Costa Rica and is now the president of the Cayman Islands Football Association.
“We share that passion for sport together,” Whitaker says.
Still working mostly on her own, she traveled to Trinidad and Tobago for a sports ministry conference where she met Dan Bishop, who serves as FCA International Regional Vice President for the Caribbean. Dan was there as an attendee but was asked to talk about 3D Coaching™ and leadership development during a breakout session.
Afterwards, he and Whitaker struck up a conversation. She was teeming with questions about how to get organized and how to get FCA resources. The bottom line: Whitaker needed Bibles. That immediately struck a nerve with Bishop.
“We want every coach and athlete to receive a Bible,” Bishop explains. “From that point of contact, we hope that every coach and athlete will get involved in a Huddle where they can find discipleship, and that every coach and athlete will get connected to a local church so that the community in which they live can advance the mission of God there.”
When Bishop got back to his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he put an action plan into motion. He had previously broken the Caribbean into ten groups and assigned them to the ten areas in the Great Lakes Region. The Cayman Islands were attached to Northern Indiana FCA.
“That raised the bar of opportunity and the goal of the leadership in that area was crystal clear,” Bishop says.
Within two weeks, the Northern Indiana staff and Bishop collectively raised the $1,700 necessary to purchase and ship forty-eight Coaches Bibles and forty-eight Athletes Bibles.
“When those Bibles showed up on my doorstep, I saw the deliveryman and I was so excited,” Whitaker says. “It was like finding a treasure. It was an exciting moment; I wanted to bury myself in those Bibles.”
The deliveryman was intrigued about the content of her boxes. Whitaker tore into a box and showed him one of the Bibles, explained what it was and gave it to him. Shortly thereafter, she sent Bishop a voice message that he will never forget:
“You are making history in the Cayman Islands.”
Whitaker, who was named Field Director for FCA Cayman Islands back in July, feels like her connection with FCA in January and the subsequent partnership mirrors the Biblical principle found in Matthew 25:23: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.”
“My partnership with FCA is like a reward from Christ,” she adds. “That’s how I see FCA in my life; we’re together for Him.”
As far as Whitaker knows, this is the first time a ministry has sent Bibles to the Cayman Islands specifically designed for coaches and athletes. She is already about to run out after just a few weeks and feels confident that she could distribute two or three thousand more in the coming months once the supply becomes available.
“It gives her a credible resource that’s really high quality and effective,” Bishop says. “She’ll be able to leverage these Bibles to build Huddles, disciple coaches and athletes and gain more support from the local churches.”
Whitaker had her pastor pray over the Bibles before distributing them. She keeps them in her car so she can be ready to give them out when the opportunities arise. The word is spreading fast, however, and she consistently fields calls from people who want to get their hands on a copy.
“I told Dan, ‘I’m like a balloon full of air just floating to the sky. You’ll have to grab my feet and pull me down,’” Whitaker says. “I’m all pumped up, and I can’t wait to see how God is going to use these Bibles to build His Kingdom.”
Yolanda Whitaker is praying for more Bibles as her outreach continues to expand to reach the hundreds of coaches and athletes in the Cayman Islands. She is also believing for more teammates to come alongside her in this pioneering effort to see coaches and athletes “share God’s Word with their teams so they might draw closer to God and get involved with a church.”
Please consider helping provide Bibles for coaches and athletes by giving to FCA Cayman Islands.
On a personal note, she is seeking greater boldness and confidence as she ministers to the sports community throughout the Cayman Islands. Please pray for boldness and confidence for Whitaker, and for wisdom to move ministry forward.
Visit fcaworld.org to learn more about what God’s doing around the globe through FCA.