FCA Ukraine is invested in growing the next generation to boldly impact coaches, athletes and peers for Christ. They’ve strategized and started an eight-week internship course for teenagers between 16 and 21 years old.
In its inaugural year last year, 30 students from Iowa and 15 form Ukraine participated. This year held the same interest, but when travel started shutting down in spring, staff knew they had to get creative.
“We knew it wouldn’t be the same as last year, but we didn’t want to cancel it, especially with kids just sitting at home. We still wanted to give them something valuable,” said FCA Ukraine Director Liosha Yukhymchuk.
The program went virtual, with 23 participants gathering in May and June and FCA staff acting as “Huddle leaders,” leading three Huddles in weekly meetings. Included in the program were weekly devotionals, games (like the 5-burpee challenge) and training. They also discussed the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan and went over four topics: The Four (FCA’s four-step Gospel presentation); Huddles and how to start and lead them; sharing your testimony; and Camps.
Interns were enthusiastic and eager to take their training and apply it in real life. One student especially had a passion for sharing the Gospel through The Core bracelet sent to participants.
“In my role I don’t get to do much interaction with the teens because I’m helping staff organize and strategize their ministry, but [in the program] we all got to meet one-on-one with interns,” said Yukhymchuk. “I just happened to disciple this one young man, Philip Vlasemko, who is very responsible and very passionate about sharing the Gospel.”
Vlasemko happened to miss the training on The Four but heard about it from his friend and quickly set out to share the Gospel with two of his friends. In his eagerness, he used the bracelet everyone had received, and one of the friends is one choice away from accepting Christ. Yukhymchuk and Vlasemko are in the process of planning how Vlasemko can reach out to more of his friends this September once school begins again and students can get on campus.
“He knows how he can invest in two to three guys when he gets back,” said Yukhymchuk. “He’s excited to read the Bible with these guys on a weekly basis. That’s a win for us. He’s ready.”
“The FCA Internship definitely gave great fruit in my life. I heard a lot of good teachings and was able to get deep in the Scripture with my mentor,” Vlasemko said. “I also had an opportunity to share the Gospel through The Four bracelet with friends who don’t know God yet. This is truth that you can share with those who doesn’t believe and testify about God.”
Vlasemko’s excitement reminds Yukhymchuk why he and his staff invest in the next generation, which also serves as a lesson in the simple faith of Gospel-sharing.
“He encouraged me--we forget how simple sharing the Gospel is, and how much courage it takes to go and share the gospel with everyone,” he said. “We have all the tools to do ministry: The Four to share the Gospel, The Core to go deeper in discussing faith and sport. It’s a great reminder that we need to simplify the ministry in whatever ways we can share the Gospel with people of sport to lead every coach and athlete to relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.”
It also serves as affirmation to the internship program and why such an emphasis on sports ministry is needed more than ever. “I see how the internship impacted him,” said Yukhymchuk. “It showed him ministry is bigger than what he thought it was, that leadership is bigger, and there are the same people who think like him and want to invest in him and cultivate the skills God has given him.
“He saw he’s not alone.”
No one is alone in the family of God, and the Ukraine staff are ready and available to come alongside everyone they share God’s truth with. “A lot depends on God, but some depends on us being there and staying with these people, no matter if they are one step away from accepting Christ or not interested.”
This is true generational impact lived out in humble yet strategic service.
Will you pray for FCA ministry to start in Ukraine? Will you pray for more people to want to serve coaches and athletes all over the country, and for God to bring the right coaches to FCA staff to disciple?
To learn more about FCA Ukraine ministry and how you can get involved, click here.