Through our secular sports company, we are able to partner with many outstanding, like-minded organizations, including Athletes in Action (AIA). We are able to place their representatives safely and securely in closed, restricted-access countries, countries in which they would be unable to reside without the sports company identity we provide. We recently received this update from one such AIA representative living and working in Southeast Asia:
"I frequently meet new friends in the sports world and am amazed to hear personal stories of how AIA impacted their lives. Last month, I had the pleasure of spending two weeks with 21 coaches from 13 countries at the 4th annual AIA International Coaches Academy. Coaches came from literally all over the globe to learn how to not only improve the competitive level of their team on the court, but also how to better lead themselves, how to use their role as a coach to affect their team, federation, and country, and what it means to truly know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.
I found a particularly strong connection with two of the coaches there from a National Team in Southeast Asia. On the second day of the Academy, one of those coaches pulled an old AIA lapel pin from his pocket and explained: the commissioner of his country’s basketball association, upon hearing these two men were coming to an AIA event in the States, tracked him down and asked him to bring the pin along and thank us for the role we’ve played in the history of Christianity and basketball in his country. In 1994, before his country had the current religious freedoms they enjoy, AIA sent some players and coaches there to create a Christian basketball team to be used for outreach and church planting. This man was so moved by the Americans who came and shared the gospel that he clung tightly to this tiny lapel pin for more than 20 years. It was a real joy to witness the meeting of these two men with one of the AIA staff members and former players of that team. As they swapped stories and asked how mutual acquaintances had been over the past several years, I began to wish that each of you was standing there next to me, hearing the changed-life stories and understanding how the unique combination of sports and the gospel can provide access into otherwise unreachable people groups. The legacy of AIA’s commitment to long-term, personal ministry was on full display.
I am also overjoyed to tell you that I get to be a part of the next chapter in AIA’s relations with the aforementioned country. This weekend I will fly to its capital to give a seminar to 100 high school coaches. In addition to on-court instruction, these coaches will learn how to develop leadership abilities and character in their athletes. Two AIA staff members living there will have the opportunity to follow up with these coaches, make sure they understand what it means to have a relationship with Christ, and disciple any of those who choose to walk with the Lord.
I covet your prayers as I am there walking in the steps the Lord and other AIA staff have taken before me and taking new steps toward seeing athletes and coaches there pointing their countrymen to Christ."