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God and Sports Together

Published on July 31, 2019

(EDITOR’S NOTE: First in a two-part series on what God is doing at Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camps this summer.)

Across the country and around the world this summer, the lives of coaches, athletes and entire teams are being changed through more than 700 FCA Camps.

One such Camp in early July at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania was just one example of what God is doing at FCA Camps.

“God is doing an incredible work through FCA Camps all over the country,” said Chris Rich, Vice President of Field Ministry for the Mid-Atlantic Region. “We have seen coaches and athletes alike come face to face with Gospel truth and be transformed! As we see lives changed, we are sending out a bold generation of young athletes ready to be catalysts for change in the sports community. Coming out of Camp season, the rallying cry is the same, LET’S GO!”

Rich also reported that this year’s attendance at the FCA Camp at Kutztown topped 540 athletes, with about 900 total in attendance including coaches, staff, Huddle leaders, speakers and volunteers. Participants hailed from 14 states to sharpen their skills in several sports, such as tennis, volleyball, football, softball, and track and field, among others.

FCA Kutztown Camp (10)
Campers at Kutztown FCA Camp

A popular sport at the Kutztown camp is basketball, both for boys and girls. Maryam is a physical education teacher in a poor school district in Syracuse and coaches four sports. For the past six years, she and her fellow coaches have taken two busloads of athletes to the Kutztown Camp, many on scholarship or there thanks to donations. She says the impact of the Camp on the athletes she coaches is “priceless.”

“To get out of the city in the summer for a week is priceless,” Maryam said. “You can’t put a price on that.”

Even students she took to FCA Camp her first year still want to go back and volunteer.

“Even if they never get the chance to go again, it’s part of their life forever.”

On the boys’ side of the basketball court, Toki, 24, is in his third year as a Huddle leader at the FCA Camp at Kutztown. A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he was invited to the Pennsylvania Camp by a friend.

“I saw what happened and I’ve been hooked ever since,” he said.

Through FCA, said Toki, campers meet new people and discover they have commonality in basketball, or other sports, no matter what their backgrounds may be. FCA Huddle leaders then remind the athletes that they not only have basketball in common but have their Creator in common as well.

“Before I got saved, I didn’t see how that was relatable—that God was here and sports were here,” Toki said. “But the way FCA brings that together is awesome.”

FCA Kutztown Camp (70)D.J., 19, a first-time FCA Huddle leader from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, said the aspect that has stayed with him from his FCA Camp experience was witnessing young athletes being loved, discipled and changed by the Holy Spirit.

“God starts to move, and kids’ hearts open up more—what’s on their mind and what it means to live as a Christian,” D.J. said. “It’s the first time they’ve been loved by someone who is godly. Their Huddle Leader still loves them no matter what they do.”

Jasmine, a high school soccer standout from Philadelphia, has also learned more about her relationship with Christ through her Huddle leader. This summer was her second year at the FCA Kutztown Camp to sharpen her soccer skills.

Last summer during FCA Camp, Jasmine was in the midst of family problems. She told her friends and family she was a Christian, but knew she wasn’t giving enough time and attention to her relationship with Christ. After realizing—and even being upset with herself—she was cheating God out of her time, she turned her attention to a real relationship with Him.

“I can keep motivated to still have God in my life no matter how hard things get,” Jasmin said.

The talented 16-year-old already plays for an 18- to 19-year-old travel team and says FCA Camp keeps her motivated and focused, not only on soccer but on Jesus as well. Jasmine’s goal is to play soccer in college—Duke is her dream—but when self-doubt creeps in as a result of the competitive nature of women’s soccer, she knows she is grounded in Christ because of her time at FCA Camps.

“He gave me the talent to play soccer,” she said, “and I can worship Him through soccer.”