Please take a few minutes to check out these videos that were shown at our 2015 Night with the Gophers Fellowship Dinner on May 3rd. You will be encouraged!
“I would not know Jesus today if I hadn’t been involved with Athletes in Action these past two years.” I (Luke) was overwhelmed in my heart as I heard these words spoken from the two Gopher athletes I sat across from during lunch. Marek and Zac (pictured right) were two of the first students I met when we started with AIA at the U of M in 2013. Their first three years of college they were not involved with AIA and admittedly had not taken their faith seriously. But God was working in their lives and that fall they both sensed their lives needed to change.
After speaking at chapel during fall camp in 2013, I can remember sitting across from Marek as he told me that he wanted to try and start a Discipleship Group with his roommates on the football team. Trusting his word, I showed up one September morning to his old house in Dinkytown. I was unsure of what would come of this new group of four offensive lineman and a quarterback. That morning I challenged the men to commit to growing to be more like Christ through a weekly Discipleship Group with me for one year, not knowing how they would respond to such a challenge.
To my surprise and joy, this group has continued to meet every week for the last two years. They have studied the Bible and grown in Christ together. Marek and Zac both graduated in December and are moving on. As I sat across from them and heard how God has used this ministry to change their lives, I became overwhelmed by God’s grace to us. The trajectory of these two lives has been altered because of a few semesters spent with our ministry. Thank you for investing in us, so that we can make great investments in the lives of men and women that will impact them for eternity.
In these next few weeks, our family and team of nine AIA staff will be trusting God to meet many new students in the athletic department. Each of these student athletes has tremendous potential to impact the world around them. During their 4-5 years in college they will be influenced and will influence others. We have the unique opportunity to meet these student athletes at this critical time, when the trajectory of where they go and who they become will most likely be determined.
In light of this, our mission at the University of Minnesota is making disciples who make disciples. We are trusting God that hundreds of Gophers will be influenced by the gospel of Jesus Christ during their short time on campus and then go on to influence others. This includes their teammates, classmates, communities and families. Below is a story of influence from a third year football player named Tyler who Luke met for the very first time last fall. Hear from Tyler how his life has been changed in the last year and how he’s trusting God to influence his family members.
“I have always known Christ but I haven’t KNOWN Him in the way I do now. During my freshman year of college I had the desire to connect with some type of group but never really initiated anything. The fall came around my sophomore year and my brother in Christ Gabe invited me to come to a Bible study with Luke. I was relatively unfamiliar with terms as simple as “grace” and I was just kind of there to absorb information. Over time I started to understand more and more and was beginning to feel like I could lead my own Bible study.
This past year hasn’t been easy on my family. My family members are more “common Christians,” but I have been able to use what I have learned and teach them what it really means to surrender to Christ. I have continued to pray for them, and now my moms friend invited her to a Bible study. I have been able to comfort my mom with the Word of God and her life is changing for the better. I have stepped up and become a father figure to my brothers to make sure they are on the right track. My family means so much to me and it’s important that I can encourage them and talk to them about Christ. I have always felt that God has a special plan for me and joining AIA is just the beginning of me being reborn spiritually.”
This is just one example of God can move in someones life in only a year! We cannot wait to see who the Lord leads us to this year who will experience Christ transforming their life and the lives of others around them.
Have you ever had a mountain top experience from a Christian conference or retreat, but failed to apply what you experienced once you entered back into normal life? We have seen and experienced this before, but this summer we are witnessing lasting transformation in lives of our students who came to the Ultimate Training Camp in June.
One example is from four Gophers that were in a discipleship group with Luke this past year (pictured right). They attended UTC together, and once camp ended the four of them decided to continue meeting for discipleship group on their own while they were on campus for summer team workouts. Soon after, these four guys felt called to start a Bible study for their team as an outreach to guys who had never been involved in Athletes in Action before.
A couple guys showed up the first week to their Bible study. Then those guys started to invite their friends. Last week there were 12 guys at the Bible study (pictured below). By God’s grace, last week was the week they had been planning on sharing the gospel. Four of their teammates came for the very first time last Thursday and got the chance to hear about Jesus. Corey, a former wrestler who will be Interning with AIA this year, came to help these new leaders share the gospel. Multiple guys in the room made a decision that night to trust in Christ!
It has been so encouraging for us to witness these four Gophers be available for God to use them this summer. They are beginning to own the mission of making disciples who make disciples. UTC was a catalyst for them to not just grow in their faith but to see the opportunity they have to bring the gospel to others. They are changed lives helping to change lives!
Who or what do you worship? For many collegiate athletes, the answer to that question is their sport. From June 1-7, 125 athletes from around the nation came to the Twin Cities for the Ultimate Training Camp. The goal: discover how to worship God THROUGH your sport.
Watch this video below to get a glimpse of what happened at the Ultimate Training Camp Twin Cities. Grayson, a student we work with at Minnesota, is the first athlete you will see interviewed when the video starts.
Four weeks ago I sat in on my first chapel meeting with the Gopher football team (pictured above). Each player was given a survey card so they could indicate their spiritual interest coming into the season and it also listed a few ways we could be a resource for them this year. Later that day as we gathered to look through the cards, we were blown away by what we saw.
Of the nearly 100 cards we received from the players, 90 of them indicated that they are interested spiritually! Many of those players circled that they wanted to know how to have a relationship with God, receive a free Bible, talk with someone about their faith questions or join a team Bible study. Our new co-worker and current football team Chaplain Luke Kaiser told us that this is by far the most spiritual interest he has seen on the team in his six years on campus!
Our goal is to meet with every player who is interested and listen to where they are at in their faith journey. We will get the opportunity to explain the good news of Jesus Christ to these young men, many of whom have never heard it in a clear and compelling way. Imagine the impact that these men could have on campus and around the world if they began to live for Jesus! Our relationship with the football team is also opening doors to other teams, which we pray would get the gospel into every corner of the athletic department.
One of our student athletes from SCSU, Ari, is serving in South Asia this summer on a Cru Summer Project. If you would like to pray for Ari and her team, here is a list she came up with to pray specifically!
7 Days of Prayer for South Asia
1.Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who currently live in South Asia. Parts of South Asia can be dangerous for people to proclaim that they are a Christian. Pray that they would be given safety, strength, and a passion to continue to share the gospel despite the challenges!
“Therefore let us do good to all people, especially those who belong in the family of believers.” –Galatians 6:10
2. Pray for guidance and for God’s love to soften the hearts of those in leadership and governing positions in South Asia. Although the government claims to have “religious freedom,” “anti-conversion laws” have been implemented in some areas making it difficult for an individual to become a Christian. Also, religious persecution by extremists is not managed well by the government systems.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” –Ephesians 6:12
3. Pray for the sick, elderly, poor, and orphaned children living in South Asia. South Asia has the world’s largest concern for poor people. More than 500 million people live on less than $1.25 a day.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” –Matthew 5:3
4. Pray for those who face the horrors of slavery and sex trafficking. The realities of slavery and trafficking in South Asia are beyond heart breaking and overwhelming. Millions of women and children are being taken advantage of daily and they need our prayers!
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” –Isaiah 1:17
5. Pray that God will prepare and open the hearts of those we will serve and minister to in South Asia. Only around 1% of the specific population we will be ministering to is considered Christian. Pray that God will use us to reach people in the other 99%!
“For we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:10
6. Pray that our team will be guided by the Holy Spirit so that lives may be made new by His love and in His name! Please pray that we will be attentive to the Holy Spirit and follow Him in and through everything we do.
“And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” –Romans 8:27
7. Pray that God would bless our team’s health and safety and give us protection from the devil. Also, pray that He will give us patience and guidance in any and every situation!
“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” –Colossians 1:17
With the school year over and final exams completed, many college students will begin a summer job or take time off for vacation with family. However, this is not the case for most collegiate athletes! Summer can be one of the most rigorous times for athletes to train for their upcoming season.
We desire the athletes we work with to not just grow stronger physically during their summers, but spiritually as well. The best venue Athletes in Action has to offer for this growth is called the Ultimate Training Camp: an intense one week camp in Fort Collins, CO to tackle the issue of how to blend faith and sport together.
There are currently 150 collegiate athletes from around the country participating in this camp, being pushed to the limits physically and spiritually! 13 athletes from the University of Minnesota and St. Cloud State are at UTC this week. Check out this video to get a sneak peak into what UTC is all about!
You’ll know from reading our letters over the past few years that part of God’s plan for us through our ministry with Cru has been the privilege of working with athletes at St. Cloud State. What started in 2010 as a 1-2 hour/week step of faith, has now turned into a fulfilling passion for both of us. Through that initial step of faith, God has blown us away with His work at SCSU as the Athletes in Action ministry has grown to nearly 70 athletes involved in our five weekly Bible studies.
While we have enjoyed many parts of our job with Cru at SCSU, launching and leading this Athletes in Action ministry has far and above been the work we have loved the most. Most recently, it has been so much fun to see God use Kristina in some incredible ways to reach women’s athletes with the gospel and to disciple women to lead their teammates to the Lord. We are excited to announce that we’ve recently been asked to consider making a transition to work full-time with AIA. The new role will be to become a co-campus director with AIA at the University of Minnesota and work alongside another couple who started AIA there in 2007: Luke and Alisha Kaiser (pictured below). Check out the U of M AIA ministry here.
With only a handful of staff members, they have been unable to reach the hundreds of U of M athletes on their own. One thing we are particularly excited about is that we will continue to lead the St. Cloud State AIA ministry and because of the close proximity we will even be able to make campus visits a couple times a month. As a ministry of Cru, the mission of AIA is one we can get excited about: Building spiritual movements everywhere through the platform of sport so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus. After much prayer, discernment, and wise counsel, this December we made the decision to accept this role and begin our work with AIA at the U of M in the fall! Our time with Cru at SCSU has now ended and we will soon move to the Twin Cities to begin raising the new financial support we need for this role and our baby girl! Please be praying for us, the SCSU AIA ministry and what God has planned for us in this new role serving full-time with Athletes in Action! If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to hear more about AIA? Check out this video: