In 2007, FCA partnered with Korean Central Presbyterian Church and Global Christian School in Seoul to host a first-ever sports camp in South Korea. Our host, Jacob Hong, whom I’d met when we were both living in Northern Virginia, had been talking with me, praying and planning, for nine months to see FCA come to South Korea. And on July 24 that prayer materialized as an FCA team of 21 people crossed the Pacific to serve 175 South Korean campers through language, sports and spiritual education.
After several days of group prayer, fasting and planning, we began the camp on Monday, July 30, at Prayer Mountain in the city of Pocheon. And as far as we know, we broke new ground in South Korea, as there are no other overnight sports camps in the country (at least according to the people in South Korea).
Our team consisted mostly of FCA staff members, a few summer interns and a couple of FCA Huddle Coaches. It was a very skilled team with many talents. As we prepared for camp, we sensed that God was going to do a great work.
Once camp started and we’d done our initial team meeting, Huddles, ice breakers and had eaten a great dinner of kimshi and squid, we had an opening three-and-half-hour worship service. In the U.S., we complain if our hour-and-15-minute service goes long! But here, we worshipped and prayed, worshipped and prayed, and then worshipped and prayed some more. All this with young kids! And then the speaker spoke for an hour. It was incredibly different … and amazing.
The speaker communicated with power and conviction and challenged everyone to make their lives count for Christ. During the challenge, almost all of the kids responded to the Gospel! The FCA team was more than excited to pray over the campers. And as we prayed, the Lord poured out His Spirit while we interceded for the kids. Both campers and staff wept openly.
The second day of camp brought another day of incredible ministry. We divided the kids into three large groups and spent the morning teaching them English, covering many of the sports terms we would be using later that afternoon in the three-hour sports session. The campers loved playing games and competing; they weren’t as fond of drills. Kids in Korea are just like Americans; they prefer fun and games to fundamentals!
The day concluded with an evening worship service that lasted almost four hours. At the end of the meeting, the Lord moved, and the FCA staff and South Korean pastors prayed over the campers, laying hands on the students. I once read that the Puritans prayed for the gift of tears. Well, if that gift is around today, it is no more visible than in South Korea. It was incredible to see kids weeping before the Lord for over an hour, calling upon His mighty name!
Throughout the week, until camp ended on Thursday, August 2, God’s presence was felt and experienced again and again as the campers hungrily called out to the Lord. In 17 years, I have directed more than 50 FCA Camps, and I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced anything like this. It was a breakthrough for our entire team. Everyone was profoundly touched by God’s power. The Holy Spirit ministered to us and revealed so much.
Personally, I was impacted with several life-changing lessons. Here are the top three:
Lesson #1: Pressing In
Extended time before God softens the heart and prepares us to hear from Him. The Lord wants us to come into His presence to be aligned with Him. There is so much that battles against us to keep us from getting into a posture of worship: the flesh, the world and the devil. Our flesh begs us to invest minutes with God, not hours. The world tells us that we don’t have that kind of time. The enemy convinces us that we don’t need to spend time with God at all to get by. The Korean people position themselves to hear from the Lord. To see a 10- year-old boy cry out to God on his knees and lie prostrate for over an hour is powerful. It is also convicting.
Lesson #2: Early Prayer
Korean churches have early prayer and worship at 5:30 a.m. every day, seven days a week, even on Sundays before regular service. There is breakthrough going on in their churches because of the commitment to prayer! Where is our commitment to prayer? Do we expect to get the blessing without the commitment and sacrifice?
Lesson #3: Spiritual Slumber
It seems that comfort and ease is the way of the American church. God is neatly placed in a well-defined box. Worship is contained to certain time limits. To worship three to four hours every night at camp with the youth was staggering. They didn’t care how long the service went. They were face-first before their Savior, crying out to Jesus, hungry for more of God. They confessed their sins and totally surrendered to their great God. They demonstrated the childlike faith Jesus addressed in Scripture. I want faith like that. Faith that is not polluted. Faith that is pure and innocent. Faith that has no limits, no boundaries, and is not complicated with all the things of the world. Faith that is out on the edge.
America is in a deep spiritual slumber. The worst part is we don’t even know it. We have become comfortably numb. Materialism has crippled us. Programs have pushed out consuming prayer and sincere worship. Our neat, clean worship fits into our nice, scheduled life. No fuss. No mess. No layers pulled back. No issues of the heart revealed. Just keep our spiritual life predefined and neatly placed in the box with clear boundaries.
Here’s a question: If the Holy Spirit left the American church, would anything change? I pray that God continues to open doors for more ministry in places like South Korea. Because when He does, the Spirit moves and lives are changed...including mine.
In 2007, God used this camp as a seed to plant FCA in South Korea. In November of 2012, God raised up sports leaders in South Korea to officially start FCA Korea. God is using FCA in Korea to impact coaches and athletes for Christ by providing training, resources and programs.
*For more information about FCA International, visit www.fcaworld.org.
FCA desires to fulfill our vision statement by impacting the world for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches. Currently, most of our ministry is US bordered. FCA International is working to increase its impact through partnering with existing international ministries and other sports ministries.
FCA International Strategic Plan
To further extend God’s impact through FCA, the organization has laid out five strategies to build FCA’s international ministry and make an impact for Christ outside of the United States:
1) Connecting FCA’s 450 field offices and 1,000 staff members to the world
Create awareness of FCA’s international ministry within its organization, and help each field office build a focus, strategy and purpose for connecting with a specific area of the world.
2) Train the trainers
Allow those who would lead sports ministries overseas to come to the United States and “shadow” FCA staff members to learn how FCA’s approach to sports ministry works in America and how they can develop ways to adapt those concepts to match their culture. Also, sending FCA staff members overseas to train groups in sports ministry techniques.
3) Distribute resources
FCA is known worldwide for its resources, and opening channels to get those resources to the rest of the world is already underway. Spanish, Ukrainian and Mandarin language resources are on shelves, as is the first-ever Chinese sports devotional. FCA’s Heart of an Athlete has been translated into several languages. Translating camp curriculum and inserting it into the back of FCA Bibles in 15 languages assists camp leaders all over the world.
4) Develop an affiliate program
A long-term goal is to see leaders from across the world building sports ministry in their country. International affiliates of FCA would be able to use FCA resources and tools to grow their ministries.
5) Work in partnership with sports ministry organizations
The sports ministry movement is made up of organizations and leaders from across the globe that come together to serve the world in sports ministry. “There is a 99 percent chance that a sports ministry leader is already in a location where we want to help,” said Britton. That allows FCA to team up with other leaders to make a greater impact.