This story appears in FCA Magazine’s July/August 2016 issue. Subscribe today!
What do you do to get the gospel out to craving hearts?
If you’re part of FCA Guatemala, you:
• Rent a dirt field each week so kids who work six days a week can play and compete on their one day off, surrounded by positive adult role models as they learn soccer and hear Bible stories while drinking pure water.
• Travel an hour and a half outside Guatemala City to a landfill community to support local soccer training and distribute vitamins that nourish children whose bones grow slowly.
• Begin sports chaplaincy programs, training and equipping chaplains to do ministry as the most direct access to the biggest influencers of all, the coaches.
• Spend three months studying training materials, using that knowledge to train additional prospective leaders (chaplains, coaches and athletes) at all levels of sports to multiply the impact.
• Partner with sports ministries to meet needs and equip local communities, collecting sports equipment rather than charging a fee, giving directly where resources are most scarce.
• Serve local leaders who miss a day of work each week for prison ministry, transforming inmates’ lives so they have their own weekly Bible study in their cells.
• • •
On the surface, it might look different than FCA in the United States, but the heartbeat is the same—to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
FCA Magazine followed FCA Guatemala’s Veronica Ochoa for a week to gain a better understanding of ministry from her perspective. From dirt-cracked soccer fields strewn with twigs and chattering boys, to vast stadiums with freshly manicured green grass, volunteers, chaplains, coaches and athletes offer their own time, resources and funds, sacrificing much to reach hearts longing for love at all levels of sports.
Ochoa, Gomez, and the team of chaplains they work with, lead a women's FCA Huddle with UNIFUT, the champions of the Guatemalan women's professional soccer league.
They serve because they are pierced with love, burdened by the plight of their own people, and they experience firsthand how sport is truly a universal language that enables relationships to form an introduction to Jesus.
Ochoa went to Thailand years ago for a global sports conference and heard a coach say he had no money or resources, but he still did sports ministry. It inspired Ochoa to take similar steps of faith for her own country.
“Veronica is an amazing networker and coordinator who has a vision to reach the coaches and athletes in her country,” said Executive Vice President of FCA International Ministry Dan Britton, who met Ochoa in 2013 and formed an instant partnership. “The harvest is plentiful.”
International leaders are the Don McClanens (FCA’s founder) of their own countries, pioneering the ministry and adapting it culturally to best connect with their own people and show them the kingdom of God through sports.
Julio Gomez leads 3Dimensional Coaching training sessions for local coaches throughout the year.
There is plenty of heart but limited support and resources. So much ground to cover but, too often, not enough volunteers. Ochoa and Julio Gomez, who focuses on ministering to chaplains in Guatemala, are the only two “official” FCA leaders in the country. The two are focused on finding additional key volunteers and training them along with chaplains, coaches and athletes, building leaders at all levels of the country’s sports landscape to help further the ministry efforts.
Weekly camps offer a safe place for kids hounded by the dark enticements of gangs, drugs and alcohol—the trappings that lead to far too familiar dead-end lives. At the professional level, team Huddles bring a breath of fresh air to souls asphyxiated by the crushing pressure of performance.
Ochoa and so many others work tirelessly to ensure that—slowly but surely—the right leaders rise, laying the groundwork and establishing genuine relationships.
This is the beginning, really. God’s just getting started using FCA in Guatemala and around the world.
Guatemala Sports Ministry in Photos
FCA hosts a weekly sports school on Sundays for youth outside of Guatemala City.
Warm-ups, drills and game action ensue.
The young athletes take a much needed water break while listening to a coach-led Bible story and spend time in prayer.
(left) FCA Guatemala leader Veronica Ochoa joins the young athletes on the sidelines, taking in the sports school action, (right) as groups of young athletes from across Guatemala take part in similar sports schools each week, including one at the Transformation Center in San Lucas, Guatemala.
“God is reaching coaches and athletes around the world through FCA. We are experiencing significant growth in Guatemala with committed leaders like Veronica and Julio who have a passion to reach their nation.”
-Les Steckel, FCA President/CEO
(top left) FCA Guatemala leaders Julio Gomez and Veronica Ochoa with FCA Latin America Regional International Coordinator Jim Roquemore (center); (top right) Gomez leads training sessions with a group of local chaplains; (left) Chaplains minister to coaches and athletes from all levels of competition throughout the country.
(top left) FCA Guatemala is reaching out to the highest level of coaches and athletes in the country, including Comunicaciones FC; (top right) Gomez and chaplains meet with Aurora FC on a weekly basis and provide them with FCA resources; (left) FCA has also distributed resources to Guatemalan national team members at events such as the Pan American Games.
FCA Guatemala would like to give Bibles to its more than
300 expected campers this summer. If you'd like to help make
this a reality, go to my.fca.org and search for "FCA Guatemala"
to contribute. Add the note "Bibles" to your donation.
To learn more about FCA Guatemala, visit: facebook.com/FCA Guatemala
To learn more and to get involved with FCA International, vist:
Photos courtesy of Sarah Rennicke, Veronica Ochoa and Julio Gomez