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Most of us have lived through at least one historic moment. At their best, these moments are unforgettable. Epic. Think about when man first walked on the moon or when the Berlin Wall came down. In the sports world, these moments typically come at different times depending on a fan’s team allegiance. But most of us can say exactly where we were when our team won a championship. These memories are among our most treasured.
We live for monumental victories and grand moments full of happiness, but we also know that not all historic moments are wrapped in joy. History is laced with hardships and defeats. While we’d rather share stories filled with ticker tape and confetti, most of us can recount exactly where we were when war was declared or absolute devastation occurred.
Historic moments, good and bad, tend to stick with us forever.
By the end of 2020, it may just be that the entire year is categorized as one big historical moment that we will be talking about for the rest of our lives. Not only will we share stories about what it was like to live through the first global pandemic in more than 100 years, we’ll also detail our personal testimonies of what happened when and after George Floyd took his last breath.
Historic waves and measures have risen out of 2020 so far, and the year isn’t even over yet. And while many moments have been riddled with hardship, we’ve also seen God move in new and dynamic ways. For example, coaches and athletes with more time on their hands have met the Lord like never before. Brave conversations about race have begun to bring much-needed healing. New ministry opportunities have opened because of social distancing and quarantines. And, at FCA, ministry innovation has exploded.
We hope that when we look back on this historic year, we will not define it only by the trials we faced, but by the incredible way God stretched us to give Him even more. During a year when we’ve pursued 100%, here’s how God has asked and shown us at FCA to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
“All of the pieces have always been there. When the pandemic hit, we put them together and launched a concept called FCA Virtual. We were able to pivot to virtual ministry early on, which helped staff respond to ministry needs. This has brought us provision and protection, which will continue to help FCA thrive.”
—Dan Britton, Chief Field Officer
In early March, FCA faced the same challenges as any other organization around the globe: how to meaningfully connect with others in a socially distanced world. Yet, just as quickly as the virus began spreading, FCA’s leadership began making fast and strategic decisions.
Recognizing that the ministry’s global growth over the past decade had already provided the technological tools to connect with leaders from every continent and time zone, FCA turned on a dime. It rearranged the ministry and utilized digital experiences to launch FCA Virtual. This new platform allowed FCA to stay in contact with the coaches and athletes it served.
FCA Virtual encouraged competitors to engage with the ministry and one another through hashtags, online videos, social posts and comments, online resources and video conferencing. Thousands flocked to the new virtual ministry almost instantly and began to rally via virtual Huddles, Bible studies and creative technology-based methods.
Through God-inspired innovation, FCA experienced how to lead coaches and athletes into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church through virtual means and watched as He did amazing things.
NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING
“As we entered each new week, we were waiting to see what God was going to do in our cities, countries and around the world. As millions of families were navigating what was happening around us, there was not a better call to make than for a day of prayer and fasting.”
—Shane Williamson, President/CEO
With disappointing news frequently flashing across every screen earlier this year, FCA leaders, coaches and athletes needed to be covered in prayer. Thus, for the first time in the ministry’s history, all of Team FCA was called together for a time of prayer and fasting. The powerful Scripture from Daniel 9 led participants through prayers of confession, adoration and petition; and together as a global family, FCA sought the Lord’s face and asked Him to hear their prayers and bring healing to the land.
Check out the Daniel 9 prayer and study guide FCA created for the day of prayer and fasting: links.fca.org/dayofprayer.
“Huddle Up is a phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
- Benjamin Watson, 15-season NFL veteran
Through a partnership between FCA and Pro Athletes Outreach (PAO), FCA’s virtual Huddle Up webcasts brought college and pro athletes together to answer the most pressing questions and concerns on the minds of many competitors. Through seven live-streamed episodes, viewers watching the virtual Huddle Ups and heard from influencers willing to share their personal faith in Jesus Christ and offer encouragement to quarantined coaches and athletes around the world.
Huddle Up! Participants:
Retired NFL Tight End
Wide Receiver, Houston Texans
Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals
Retired NFL Quarterback
Wide Receiver, New England Patriots
Retired NFL Quarterback, ESPN Analyst
Olympic Gold Medalist, Women’s Hockey
Head Men’s Basketball Coach, University of Tennessee
Former Goalkeeper, Louisiana State University Women’s Soccer
Forward, Chicago Sky
Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach, NBC Analyst
Head Football Coach, Clemson University
And many others!
ONLINE HUDDLES AND WORKSHOPS
“We would have never had the opportunity to invite U.S. coaches to participate in our Huddles, but now, every week, it’s possible to invite a guest that can share a devotion, an experience in their sport, and share the Gospel because of virtual Huddles. The number of Huddles, new relationships and new people to pray for has grown.”
FCA Ukraine Area Representative (Kiev)
When the social distancing guidelines rolled out, FCA recognized that discipleship would need to look different, not just in the U.S., but all over the world. Although traditional in-person Huddles appeared to be counted among the many gatherings that were discouraged, the ministry again got creative with technology.
Athletes, coaches and teams gathered online from remote locations to join virtual communities and stay connected. Not only did virtual events keep coaches and athletes talking, they also allowed different regions and countries to support one another. Case in point, in Southeast Asia, a virtual women’s coaching workshop brought leaders from eight countries together for two days of online ministry. In Ukraine, the virtual Coaches Huddle doubled in size, and staff connected with new coaches who had never heard of or been in contact with FCA prior to this year.
VIRTUAL TRAINING FOR FCA STAFF
“While we highly value in-person gatherings, we had to figure out a way to continue training in spite of not being able to be together. Thankfully, technology has allowed us to connect as a family in a beautiful and purposeful way.”
—Debbie Jobe, Executive Vice President of Training
The power of reaching out allowed FCA to get creative in reaching in. Prior to 2020, most of FCA’s staff training involved a trip to the Support Center in Kansas City, Missouri. With travel restricted and discouraged, FCA shifted its strategy. Instead of canceling trainings, the ministry began hosting online events, even assembling the majority of its more than 2,000-member staff for in-depth training on FCA’s E3 disciple-making method. It was the largest online training in the ministry’s history and proved to be an effective way of uniting and training the staff.
“Our camps are one of the most powerful ministry opportunities we offer coaches and athletes, so it was painful to have so many get canceled. However, we have seen God’s good work unfold in new areas of the ministry, and at the same time, He still made a way for dozens of camps to happen later in the summer.”
Executive Vice President, Ministry Advancement
For the first time in 65 years, FCA Camps looked to be on the chopping block. Under the conviction that giving God 100% as a ministry means being openhanded and willing to make hard decisions based on the health and safety of Team FCA, the majority of FCA Camps were not hosted in person this year—particularly in the late spring and early summer.
However, thanks to local leadership teams, disappointed campers didn’t have to sit at home alone. Many FCA Camps transformed into virtual gatherings, and FCA’s resource team got creative with ways to engage coaches and athletes with online tools and gear. And for the first time ever, the ministry hosted a Virtual Coaches Camp, featuring the likes of seasoned high-profile coaches such as Tony Dungy, Patty Gasso and Mark Richt along with his wife, Katharyn.
As the summer wore on and restrictions were lifted, a number of FCA Camps were still able to take place as planned, just with a COVID-19 makeover. In all, more than 100 in-person and virtual camps still upheld the FCA tradition of bringing athletes together for a time of “inspiration and perspiration” and bringing God’s truth to life through sports.
CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RACE
“There’s so much pain, hurt and destruction in this world that comes from the evil one. But that should not deter us from the desire to see the Lord’s Kingdom come on Earth, as His Son prayed, and to be more like it is in Heaven.”
—Shane Williamson, FCA President/CEO
Protests surrounding racial injustice following the death of George Floyd challenged FCA to take a hard look at its response to racism—both as a team and as individuals within the ministry. As a global family, FCA paused to deeply and intentionally reflect on the need to come together to renounce the sin of racism and discuss how to increase and cultivate greater diversity within the organization.
DIVERSITY FIELD TEAM
In 2013, FCA assembled a Diversity Field Team committed to initiatives such as recruiting and maintaining diverse staff and creating resources to help the ministry uproot racism. Following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, the Field Team played a key role in FCA’s conversations about race and will continue to lead as the ministry strives to be an agent of reconciliation between differing cultures.
Take a deeper look at FCA’s commitment to combatting racism and cultivating diversity here.
Virtual ministry didn’t only allow the entire FCA staff to rally online for discipleship training; the entire global team also huddled online for an honest conversation about racism. Led by President/CEO Shane Williamson and hosted by members of FCA’s Diversity Field Team, FCA staff watched and listened as a handful of teammates vulnerably shared their personal experiences about living as a person of color in the U.S. Team FCA then broke into smaller groups to talk and pray through what was shared. FCA has made a commitment to uproot the sin of racism and equip its team with tools, steps and encouragement to take action.
FCA IS 100%
As a ministry, this already-historic year has challenged us and changed us, prayerfully for the better. We’ve learned that giving God 100% means pivoting when the way we’ve always ministered cannot be done. We’ve learned that 100% means opening our hearts to hear the pain of others. We’ve also learned that giving 100% to God means giving Him all control.
This year is not over, and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that we don’t know what’s coming. But we do know we can trust the Lord. No matter what 2020 brings in the remaining months, or what the future holds, we’ll continue to rely on Him and stay focused on giving 100%.
Photos courtesy of Erin Sullenger, Sue Allred, and St. Louis FCA