Since 2007, FCA has been reaching coaches and athletes outside of the United States, but it started with humble beginnings of five camps reaching 760 competitors. Over the last 11 years, God has breathed on the international movement, and FCA now has 294 camps reaching over 40,000 coaches and athletes.
Through the service of 164 international leaders, FCA has significantly grown in 3D Coaching Workshops. From Olympic committees to youth programs, the 3D Coaching training has been catalytic, providing coaches a clear game plan to capture the hearts of their players. A total of 102 workshops and clinics reached 4,743 coaches with the 3D training.
FCA has continued to expand their Bible resources by providing Sport Bible Handbooks in Spanish, Korean and Russian. Next year, Portuguese, French, Mandarin and Urdu will be added. These resources equip and empower the coaches and athletes to effectively develop ministry and reach more competitors.
FCA’s vision is to reach every coach, every athlete, every team and every community in every country! The Gospel is spreading throughout the whole world and bearing fruit. Join us as we serve the nations.
For a closer look, we caught up with four national leaders who personally felt the global impact of FCA Camp:
With a basketball Power Camp fast approaching, FCA Barbados director Dean Smiles had a lot to be excited about. Expectations were high for one of his biggest camps of the season. There was just one major problem to overcome. Dean was lacking the funds to cover the costs for the FCA Athlete’s Bibles and camp T-shirts needed for the nearly 500 campers planning to attend. It was unquestionably the biggest challenge standing in his way, but he continued to “move on by faith, trusting that these costs would be covered.”
God provided through a team of 11 athletes from the United States. The team brought donated materials with them and joined 28 other volunteers who ministered to the 50 campers in attendance.
“I was blessed to see how God honored our faith as a local team,” Dean said. “Up to the week before the camp date, we still didn’t know how the camp would actually come together but still proceeded, nonetheless. God brought it all together by taking care of the financial, human and camp resources and camp logistics as well as the basketball equipment.”
FCA Barbados also received help from a local church that made financial donations, prepared and donated lunches for the campers and volunteers, and made themselves and their vehicles available for those who needed transportation.
One camper told her parents she would never go, but she finally agreed to give FCA Power Camp a try. She changed her attitude after Dean and his team of volunteers showered her and all of the campers with love through their training and teaching.
Another camper felt like he had been tricked into attending a Christian camp, but that disappointment quickly faded away on the first day of camp.
“He enjoyed it immensely,” another parent told Dean at the end of the camp. “We were even more blessed as he was exposed to a Christian environment and the Word. Any opportunity for spiritual growth is always welcome. Keep up the good work!”
“It was a special joy to see how the campers were blessed as they experienced a camp that targeted their spiritual development as well as their athletic development. Also the evident appreciation by the parents of the campers for such a camp felt great as our hope is to not only impact the lives of the campers but also the lives of their families.”
All told, FCA Barbados hosted 11 camps with 466 participants that resulted in 89 commitments for Christ. Dean hopes that the growing success will create even more momentum for the ministry and open the doors for future partnerships with local churches and businesses to might catch the vision for how sports ministry transforms lives and communities.
“Our expectations are that these camps will bring awareness to our ministry,” Dean said. “We hope that people will see our potential to meet the physical and spiritual needs of these athletes. We also plan to recruit some of these same athletes to serve as Huddle Leaders so we can develop more Team Huddles at their schools.
“I’m so thankful for my relationship with FCA,” Dean added. “They’ve equipped us and trained us and given us resources. They’ve helped us see that the vision is attainable. It’s been done and that gives us confirmation that we’re on to something here in Barbados.”
For FCA Korea representative Chris Kim, the idea of serving as a camp director was daunting. Even though it was the second year for the FCA Korea Sports Camp in Suwon, South Korea, he still felt he lacked the necessary experience to take on such a big challenge.
Even so, Chris went forward with the challenge of planning and fundraising with an attitude of faith and expectancy. After the three-day, two-night event, he was glad he worked through those obstacles. Held at Gyeonggi Suwon International School, the camp hosted 82 middle school and high school campers, 11 Huddle leaders (all college students), 12 staff members (mostly coaches), and a 12-member worship team.
Roughly 70 percent of student attendance was from five local church youth groups. These churches were already in partnership with FCA while three additional churches were introduced to FCA through volunteers and advertisements. The camp featured soccer and basketball and included special guest Jake Brigham, a former Major League Baseball player who now plays professionally in South Korea for the Nexen Heroes.
The camp also benefited from a brand new FCA Sports Bible Handbook in Korean. “Having this Korean resource made a huge difference,” Chris said. “We used the ONE theme and it helped the campers understand what we wanted to communicate to them in an easier, better way. The campers were able to memorize the daily themes and connect them back to the main point.”
Most importantly, there were 25 campers who made commitments to Jesus Christ during the camp. One of those athletes was a young man who attended for the sports elements despite knowing it was Christian camp.
“That week, he heard the Gospel for the first time in his life,” Chris shared. “He told our staff afterwards that it was his first time to experience God’s love and peace in his heart, and that he wouldn’t be the same. He looks forward to growing in Christ and hopes to join our camp staff in the future.”
Chris was also excited to see so many college students participated as volunteers. Several donors to the camp were also able to catch the FCA vision for reaching young people through sports ministry.
“I was personally blessed during camp to see how God's spirit moved and touched the hearts of many young boys and girls,” Chris said. “It totally blew my mind and made me once again confess that everything is only by His grace and His work in and through us all.”
As sports ministry in Malaysia experiences steady growth, FCA representative Coach William is hopeful that camps will become a much larger part of the ministry. Even though there were only two camps this year, it certainly provided a glimpse of great things to come.
“I really enjoy camps,” William said. “It’s good to get the kids away for a few days and take them away from life’s distractions like cell phones, the Internet, and cable TV. It’s a blessing to help them experience God at camp.”
The largest camp was a first-time partnership with a local church where 150 campers from the ages of 10 to 15 interacted with around 50 staff volunteers. The pastor had been introduced to the concept of sports ministry during William’s promotional tour throughout the country and is now excited to train his church members to do more sports camps and outreaches in the future.
There were 228 participants and 69 commitments to Christ at the two camps. One person greatly impacted was actually one of the staff members—a young medical graduate who was waiting for her posting and volunteered to serve as the camp emcee.
“She was really moved when she began to see young kids having so much fun playing with their friends and learning about Jesus,” William said. “During the singing time, campers came on stage and held her hand. She was overwhelmed. She thought she was coming to bless the kids but instead the kids blessed her.”
As one of FCA International’s first international ministries, Ukraine continued its momentum with 25 camps that welcomed 3,059 participants. Regional director Andriy Kravtsov reported that the 2017 FCA Camp curriculum was “the best so far!” and that the ONE theme translated well into the Ukrainian language.
“Personally, I was stretched and challenged because you are always dealing with people,” Andriy said. “But in the mix of dealing with people I found strength in God. Everything is under His control. Everything!”
If FCA Kiev director Luke Berlin could describe the summer with one word, it would be “full.”
“Full of camps, full of people and full of God’s work and grace,” Luke expounded.
It started in early June as FCA Kiev partnered with Sports Reach to conduct a three-day basketball clinic for 280 athletes and coaches. Then, the region enjoyed a wave of U.S. support including a team of coaches and former NCAA Division I athletes from FCA St. Louis who helped run three coaches camps in three cities.
Then, during July, high school students from Parkview Church in Iowa arrived to help run FCA Kiev’s first-ever Power Camps, where over 1,000 participants convened.
FCA Kiev also hosted a soccer camp, an American football camp, a girls basketball camp, a lacrosse camp, and a rugby camp.
Another highlight was in August when Luke and his team headed to Militopol in southern Ukraine for a large wrestling camp, which featured a volunteer staff made up of mostly NCAA champions and All-Americans. The group also took time to visit the Ukrainian Olympic Training Base, worked out with the Azerbaijani Junior National Team, and spent time meeting several former Olympic wrestlers and coaches.
In one notable story, Luke witnessed how FCA Kiev’s efforts within the wrestling community impacted one youth coach in particular.
“When all of the big dog coaches from the region found out that Michael’s club would be participating in our camp, they started talking about him and telling him he was stupid for partnering with what they called a ‘sect’ or a ‘cult,’” Luke said. “Understandably on the first day he was quiet and a bit stand-offish. However, day-by-day God began to open his heart and he even attended one of our optional evening worship times. On the last day, after camp, right before we got on the train back to Kiev, he asked us to pray for him.”
“I have felt empty for my whole life and at this camp I started to be full,” the coach told the FCA staff. “I feel like God is calling me to follow Him and I don’t know how, but I want to be full.”
That was one of many moments that made the efforts throughout Ukraine worth it all.
“This summer hasn’t been easy,” Luke said. “There have been a lot of tough moments, a lot of discouragements. However, I can say with confidence that these camps have all been a success. They have all given glory to God.”