Athletes in Action: 2018 Year in Review

Jan 22, 2019

Sharing Jesus Through Sport
We are so grateful for our many partners who helped us present the gospel to 16,992 people over the past year, and lead 355 individuals to the saving power of Jesus Christ by engaging them in sports!

Raz El-Asmar with his team
Coaching for Life Conference
Raz El-Asmar, the Technical Director of the Capital United Soccer Club based in Ottawa, and the former Head Coach of the Carleton University Women’s soccer team, says his experience with the Coaching for Life (C4L) Conference and Athletes in Action soccer tour in Ethiopia was “priceless.”  See Blog 
I was moved by the kids true innocence, the smiles they bring out of you, their laughter, and how active they are on the field – I had to look up to the heavens and say, Thank you, Lord – how can this be? – Raz El-Asmar

Brooklyn Nets Jeremy Lin at The Total Athlete event
Easter Sunday Total Athlete Event
We had the privilege of hosting “The Total Athlete” event featuring NBA player, Jeremy Lin, of the Brooklyn Nets. Lin, had spent the past six months participating in physical therapy at Fortius, a rehab centre located in Burnaby, BC after suffering a season-ending knee injury during the opening game of the season.
The event was very well received by the 2,900 people in attendance at the University of British Columbia, War Memorial Gym; it confirmed Lin’s sense that he was in Canada, during this season of his life, for a greater purpose.  
See Blog
AIA Spring National Training Camp
64 athletes from B.C. to Quebec gathered in Guelph, Ontario and learned how to invite God into their world of sport at the 5-day National Training Camp.

NTC Day 1
Dave Johns (DJ), an AIA staff member for nearly 40 years, unpacked two lessons in a five-lecture series exploring idolatry. The first session challenged the group to consider who or what we worship, revealing that idols take on many tangible and intangible forms that distract us from the One who gave us these joys in the first place.
The second topic explored the concept of maximizing motivation, which isn’t earned by who we are or how we perform, but by knowing whose we are – loved, redeemed, and free children of God. The tenacity required to endure several games while mentally working through these new concepts was no minor task. See Blog

NTC Day 2
DJ’s teaching revolved around soul training, and how God has bestowed upon us the most powerful resource for our training (in sport and in life): The Holy Spirit; inviting the Spirit into our lives allows us to better resemble the perfect Son of God, by using the same resource that He had used. Afterwards, the athletes divided into eight teams separated by school or region, for the Canada Cup, which saw six provinces represented in a true demonstration of grit. See Blog

NTC Day 3
Midway through the training, the athletes were dealing with pain; every body part was feeling heavier and stiffer. So during the morning discussion, DJ focused on pain as an inevitable part of life, especially in the life of an athlete. God does not cause physical or spiritual pain, but sometimes He allows pain to happen in order to deepen and refine our character. The trials we endure don’t always make sense, but they can always serve a purpose. The pain we face might not always be life-altering, but it is almost always eye-opening. See Blog

NTC Vision Night
AIA National Campus Director Kevin Cuz shared heartfelt and convicting thoughts about living behind a mask. He spoke about the crossroads we face in life, either choosing a path of pleasing God that relies on our own efforts, or a grace-filled path of trusting God where we can live out the person He made us to be. See Blog

NTC Day 4
The week’s final teaching focused on God’s great plan that far exceeds the world of sport; how we were all created with a special set of talents – including, but not limited to sport – and the importance of stewarding those gifts entrusted to us. Then came the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. – an intense, 24-hour sport marathon during which the athletes applied the principles they’d been learning all week to rely on the power of God, and help their teammates endure difficult trials they will inevitably face. See Blog

NTC Day 5
It was a powerful close to a powerful week. Some lives may have been radically transformed, whereas others may still be in a place of searching. The athletes learned that wins and losses do not define who you are.  See Blog
Soul-crushing does not have to be spirit-crushing. Regardless of your emotional state, God is always present so that your faith does not fluctuate, but can rest in knowing who you are and Whose you are.

Pro Sports Director Rodd Sawatzky
New Pro Sports Director
Rodd Sawatzky is our new Director of Pro Sports Ministry! Rodd succeeded Dave Klassen, who was promoted to the National Director role in November 2017 after 12 years as Director of Pro Sports Ministry. Rodd has faithfully served with Athletes in Action for over 25 years and has a long history of leading student-athlete ministries at the University of Calgary. See Blog

Ivory Coast Volleyball Mission
Athletes in Action Volleyball sent a team of 17 people from Canada, USA, and Ghana to the Ivory Coast in May to run a coaching tour in West Africa.  The team spent two weeks connecting with local athletes through volleyball, providing training for local churches, building meaningful friendships, and sharing stories of how their faith in Jesus has changed their hearts and lives.
They also made connections with  representatives from the National Olympic Committee and other high level sports federations throughout the country, which has the local AIA staff excited about future partnerships and potential collaborations. See Blog

AIA Soccer Teams Tour to Panama and Mexico
Last July, we sent a university level co-ed soccer touring team to work with Isaac Enseñat, our first staff member in Panama, and Saul Andrade in Mexico. It was the fifth AIA Canada soccer tour to Panama (and the first tour to Panama with a women’s team), where Isaac has now built up a strong ministry, connections with professional men’s soccer teams and a flourishing volunteer group. See Blog

In Mexico, Saul’s desire was to continue the relationship building beyond just the pitch. After a women’s games against Puebla FC, the tour athletes shared a testimony and the gospel with the girls, and also got to spend time after the game with them just enjoying getting to know each other. The tour was a testimony of one sport, one family, one God. See Blog

Summer Camps
When the government denied us funding, the AIA leadership team took a leap of faith by hiring 20 of the best student coaches in Canada, and 3366 kids had the most impactful week of their summer ! Our generous donors helped our staff point nearly 200 youth towards Jesus, and we witnessed powerful examples of the ripple effect that occurs when churches serve their community with sport camps. See Video

40th Annual Grey Cup Breakfast
Along with a hearty meal, this entertaining morning offered guests the opportunity to hear from players, coaches, and families from across the CFL. They were given a rare glimpse into the lives of the men behind the uniforms as they shared how their faith has impacted both their professional and personal lives.
This year’s event was co-hosted by special guest Michael “Pinball” Clemons, and featured CFL Commissioner, Randy Ambrosie. Members of the Calgary Stampeders, who became the 2018 Grey Cup Champions, graced the stage, together with their chaplain and AIA’s new Pro Sports Ministry Director, Rodd Sawatzky. Other featured speakers included AIA National Director Dave Klassen, Gord Barwell Award winner Luke Tasker, and BC Lions strength and conditioning coach Chris Boyko, who gave a powerful personal testimony of his faith in Jesus Christ.
Prayer Requests
As we move forward in 2019, please join us in prayer that:
  • the Athletes in Action ministry would grow deeper and wider through our targeted expansion to Quebec, First Nations Communities, and International Initiatives
  • we would cultivate relationships through strategic community, worldwide partnerships, churches, and other like-minded ministries

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Power to Change

Power to Change

At Power to Change, we're wholeheartedly committed to telling people about Jesus. It is His example that we follow, and His exhortation that spurs us on. "Go and make disciples of all nations."