My son, Jacob, and I went to our first FCA camp this past June. The camp was a week-long multi-sport camp at Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. I went as a volunteer staff member and Jacob went as an athlete in the Baseball camp. I went to experience the camp and to gain a vision for FCA camps in Massachusetts while Jacob went to become a better baseball player. Little did we know that much more would come out of it.
The Kutztown camp, in its 23rd year, hosted roughly 700 athletes aged 13 to 18 participating in 12 different sports from cheerleading to football. Coaches and volunteers came from all over the country to provide instruction, mentoring and character building. Each day started with morning Huddles, roughly eight to a group, which are Bible studies led by a Huddle Leader. There was a period of quiet time for the athlete to reflect as he or she was led and then breakfast. After breakfast all athletes proceeded to the football field by 9:00 am to start the day with warm-ups and encouraging words on “Doing Sport God’s Way”.
After warmups, the athletes went to their respective fields and courts to get on with their day of instruction and training until about 4:30 with a lunch break in between. Dinner started at 4:30 and Chapel started at 7:00 pm each night. Each night, the auditorium was filled with the Spirit and the gospel as Marvin Mumford blessed us with wonderful worship and Pastor Frank Reynoso brought anointed teaching the entire week.
The group of athletes were as diverse as you could get. Some knew the Lord and some didn’t. Some wanted to be there at the beginning and some didn’t. They were from inner-city, outer-city, rich, poor and every ethnicity was represented. It was beautiful!
On the very first night, the energy in that auditorium during chapel indescribable. You could tell that people had been praying fervently for this camp. Marvin Mumford led us in worship, others led us in fun activities and then Pastor Frank came out to bring the gospel message. Pastor Frank is a member of our Northeast FCA team but I never heard him teach before. Man, the Holy Spirit lowered the BOOM! Pastor Frank told the kids about his background, his youth and upbringing. He told us how God had lifted him out of the depths and changed his life. Then, with the soft sound of Marvin Mumford’s band in the background Pastor Frank started praying. He then gave an invitation for the kids to come and accept Jesus as Lord and to be set free from the bondage of the world and to enter into to the grace of God for an eternity. Over 300 kids answered that call. ON THE FIRST NIGHT!
I was speaking with a couple of adults the next day considering how the Spirit was going to top the night before as if God His best on the first night. Well, night after night the Holy Spirit showed up and ministered to the hearts of every individual in that room. Then came Thursday night, the final night. Marvin and Frank joined together to lead worship and to give a testimony to the grace of God. Still thinking in my mind, “there is no way they can top last night”. Pastor Frank starts praying, and praying, and praying, and praying over the 700 athletes. All quiet and heads down. Then hands start to raise up in the air. Some stood up as pastor continued praying. Then, the sweet sound of brokenness started to become audible. The sobbing of a young athlete became more and more audible as Pastor Frank continued to pray. The uncontrollable sobbing of a heart that had just surrendered to the glorious free gift of grace being set free by unconditional love, forgiveness and freedom filled the auditorium. Brothers and sisters laid hands on this young man and prayed over him and the uncontrollable sobbing continued. This young man was being washed by the blood of Christ right before his peers.
I was overwhelmed and I could see the impact this was having on these athletes. All week they had been learning to compete for an audience of One. Then in the final evening, one young man, gave up everything to in the witness of his peers, UNASHAMED, because he knew that the only thing that mattered, even in that moment, was that audience of One.
Throughout the week, and from a distance, I had the pleasure of watching how my son was being touched and impacted each morning, day and night. Jacob was singing to the Lord in worship for the very first time. He was lifting his hands in praise to the Lord for the very first time and he was connecting with individuals he never met before in fellowship and brotherhood for the very first time.
Kristie and I prayed that this camp would be a time of awakening for him and that his relationship with the Lord would become very personal to him. Well, on the way home I made a point to stop for lunch so I could sit with Jacob and hear his thoughts on camp, especially since I pretty much stayed out of his way allowing him to just experience camp without his dad hovering over him.
At some point during lunch I asked him if he was coming back next year. He didn’t even hesitate to answer with “YEAH!” as it was already a foregone conclusion in his mind to return. So I asked him what he got out of camp. Again, he didn’t even hesitate and he said, “I got two things out of camp. First, I understand now how important it is to be in fellowship with like-minded people. And two, I now know that God has a voice and that we can hear Him.” I almost started crying right there but holding back my excitement I asked Jacob, “did you hear specifically from God?” Jacob replied, “Not specifically, but I know He was doing something.”
To top it all off, Jacob pitched the first game back since returning from camp. He learned some things that needed to be adjusted in his mechanics from a pitching coach who pitched in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Well, Jacob pitched a gem as he came in to relieve the starter shutting down the other team and allowing his team to forge come back to win the game.
All of this is to say that I was blown away by the quality, concern, love and the truth that permeated this entire camp experience. The FCA model of “Inspiration and Perspiration” could not have been more evident. These kids worked hard and were fed with spiritual truths each day.
The experience of witnessing FCA camp in action has further blessed me with the honor of serving our Lord in this ministry. Our kids in Massachusetts need to know that their value is not derived from their performance. They are valuable in their uniqueness because of the loving God who created them.
As a witness to the FCA camp experience and as the one called to raise up this ministry, it is ever more apparent that I cannot do it without you. Would you please PRAY about supporting FCA in Massachusetts? There is a lot of work to be done and the foundation for it all is your financial support for this ministry.
I can’t wait to see what God does in Massachusetts. Please join me!
Father God, the Alpha and the Omega, the One who knows the beginning and the end. What do you have in store for Massachusetts? I know you have your sights set on this land. Use us Lord to bring freedom to the hearts and minds of our youth through the truth of the gospel and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our state. Please, in the name of Jesus, liberate our youth and our coaches from the grips of the world and glorify yourself in their hearts. I pray Father that you would bring forth those who see the vision of sport as the mechanism to lead our youth and coaches to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Lord, bring forth those who have treasure to give, those who have talents to use and those who have time to contribute to build up FCA in Massachusetts. Glorify yourself through FCA Lord. Amen!
Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics 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 – to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
More information can be found at FCA.org.