Amy* had been doing ministry work for 20 years when she decided she wanted to be more involved with the groundwork. She began her own charity working through soccer and the local young men and boys of her South Asia country. Serving those trapped in the cycle of poverty, broken homes, and rigid cultural regulations, many of the young men come from single parent homes, or no home at all.
For over ten years, Amy developed coaches and staff who not just taught the game of soccer but administered “life lessons” and made individual home visits to the families. It was pivotal for Amy that relationships were continually cultivated, because it’s the attention to the athletes and their families that stands out over time.
“My passion has been to share my faith through living it out amongst the most marginalized and to invest in training and developing leaders to carry this vision forward,” she said
When Amy heard about FCA two years ago, relief swept over her. She was already doing this type of work and had connection with the local church, but there’s a big difference between the church and sport ministry. Connecting with FCA, Amy continued to recreate the current work but now had resources, encouragement and development opportunities.
“FCA is preaching the Word,” said Amy. “We do home visits, camps and Huddles, and use the resources like the devotions in the Coach’s Bible.”
After practices, the athletes stick around for Huddle time and listen to coaches share values and life skills.
“It’s about relationships and transformation,” Amy explained, revealing that the love her coaches share with the boys really resonates with them, as many have never experienced such unconditional attention and care. Often, kids fall out of their support system due to the poverty, broken homes, domestic violence and substance abuse.
“They have no hope,” she added, “but we bring it to them. It’s just Jesus; we’re the vehicle.”
Amy and her coaches make sure they’re available for the athletes for whatever they need, on and off the soccer pitch. The 25 coaches are leaders from the community and came up through the same system and program, so they have experienced the benefits and know the impact.
“To them, God being a Father who loved them was so significantly different from their many impersonal and very demanding gods they worshipped,” she said.
“They have a heart for these kids who are like they were and want to pour love into them,” said Amy, who explained that each coach has between 50-80 athletes they coach and care for.
What’s special for the athletes, besides the attention of their coach, is that they each get a shirt with their name on it, and a pair of shoes. Many have never received items like this. To see these positive role models opens a deep desire to be loved and mentored, and through relationships and the conversations, many of these athletes are discipled by the coaches.
This is not a decision that anyone takes lightly. But the boys make the choice, and Amy and her staff and coaches are with them every step of the way.
Though the continual check-ins from coaches, offering parents’ meetings and changes in boys’ behavior, parents see and feel the impact, too.
“Parents will tell us, ‘My child is acting better and is more obedient’ after they are with us,” shared Amy. She told of one set of parents who lost their son last year, and coaches kept visiting them through the season of their devastation and grief. After experiencing the commitment and love of Jesus, both parents believed in Jesus as their Savior and were baptized.
“God has sewn the ground for us to share.” Amy added that many coaches continue to work through additional holistic training to further advance the disciple-making process.
Currently, Amy has 14 staff onboarding and is planning her area’s first FCA Training Conference. Her hope is to have staff united in vision and pursuit of what God wants to do in their country, based off her One Word for this year, Enlarge, from Isaiah 54:1-3:
“Sing, O childless woman,
you who have never given birth!
Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem,
you who have never been in labor.
For the desolate woman now has more children
than the woman who lives with her husband,”
says the Lord.
“Enlarge your house; build an addition.
Spread out your home, and spare no expense!
For you will soon be bursting at the seams.
Your descendants will occupy other nations
and resettle the ruined cities.”
It’s a big task, but Amy’s passion for the vulnerable, leadership and clear vision for long-lasting transformation in the country drive her forward.
“It’s been lonely in ministry,” she said. “Meeting FCA is so freeing. Now, we are always looking to taking this to the next level.”
*Name changed for security
God is doing great work through this mentorship coaching program and through sports ministry in the country. Please pray for all the unreached people who haven’t heard Jesus, and for Amy’s wisdom and leadership.
She hopes to get an FCA Bible in their native language, and her team is also looking for a space to meet and pray, so pray that God will provide a way for the Bible and the perfect building.
Also pray for the young coaches to be strengthened in Jesus and to stand against the culture, and that they would be salt and light and bring deep community.
To connect with what’s going on in South Asia and to support the work, give here.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash