For more than 60 years, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) has been providing an avenue for athletes, coaches and mentors to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ. In Alabama, the FCA has been alive through volunteer service for more than 52 years, although the first official FCA board wasn’t started in the state until 1978.
“Most of the 1960s and ‘70s FCA in Alabama was volunteer-driven, which is amazing,” said John Gibbons, State Director of FCA. Today, FCA has 42 staff working throughout the state of Alabama, ministering to athletes and coaches on more than 450 campuses statewide. In 2015, FCA shared the love of Christ with more than 50,000 athletes and 3,200 coaches through 70 special events, summer camps, campus Huddle Groups, and Coaches Bible studies. More than 4,000 Bibles were distributed. “We teach excellence, integrity, teamwork and accountability,” John explains. “This serves the young people in their lives, not only in sports but in every area.”
FCA operates through a strategy known as the “Four Cs” – Campus, Coaches, Camps and Community. Each is an area of ministry.
• Campus ministry includes Huddle groups on school campuses from middle school up through college. There are more than 500 official Huddle groups in Alabama. These clubs usually meet before or after school. They have a Huddle Coach advisor but are primarily student-led. More than 50,000 students in the state of Alabama are involved in a Huddle. Activities include Bible study and a gospel outreach ministry that includes discipleship. It is a goal for Christian students who are members of the Huddle group to talk to their peers on campus and lead them to Christ, and help them find a church family.
• The Coaches ministry provides Bible studies for coaches; as well as conferences and other activities to help strengthen a Coach’s walk with Jesus and provide him or her with the skills to share their faith and mentor the young people on their team. “They are with the kids sometimes more than the parents are,” John says. “We believe the coaches are the greatest missionaries in America today. If they can use their role as a coach to reach athletes in a positive way, they can turn this world around.”
• Camps are operated at both a national and local scope. Professional and college athletes work at the camps, which include physical development with competition and instruction in sports; plus spiritual development with chapel services three times a day; and mental development, helping kids learn self-confidence and how to be a leader. There are different camps for age groups middle school through high school, and college athletes work as leaders. Many of the young people who attend FCA camps receive a scholarship to pay their way.
• FCA also provides a Leadership Camp for the students who will be leaders of their FCA Huddle the next year, so they will be trained and encouraged for their role. At leadership camp, they will develop a year-long strategy for their FCA Huddle group.
• The Community ministry is where adults can get involved. FCA hosted a Bowl Breakfast –last year in conjunction with the Camellia Bowl. Community supporters provided scholarships for students to attend. Five students accepted Christ at that event last year. FCA also hosted a Senior Bowl rally in 2014, attended by 3,000 youngsters. There are a variety of other community events throughout the year statewide. Members of the community are encouraged to get involved.
There are all sorts of volunteer opportunities with the FCA. They include overseeing a Huddle Group, praying for the coaching staff, meeting the teams at various times during the year, buying Bibles for the team, mentoring the kids, and providing breakfasts. This is a chance to work “hands on” to make a difference in the lives of young folks. Interested individuals also can serve as a Board member or on a development committee. There are volunteer opportunities in communities throughout Alabama.
If you would like to get involved with FCA Alabama, contact John Gibbons or Erick Armster at 334-546-4050. Erick is the Urban Area Director for the FCA. You can also support FCA with a financial contribution. Donations may be mailed to FCA, P.O. Box 230685, Montgomery, AL, 36123, or you can donate online by visiting www.alabamafca.org/donate.
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