This football season I have been serving as the Character Coach for a varsity football team in the northern Worcester County. Every year this team meets on Thursday nights for dinner the evening before their Friday games. Since the beginning of the regular season I have been holding a mandatory team meeting after dinner where I speak on a topic such as integrity, teamwork, perseverance and such. After the mandatory team meeting, we break for a voluntary team chapel Bible study.
There have been 30 kids coming to the Bible study each week. During the third week I really wanted to see where these young men were spiritually so I asked a few questions to make my assessment. It was painfully obvious that none of them had ever heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After that evening’s study I said to the guys, “from now on when we enter this room together, we throw football out the window because I am standing before you to tell you that I know, with absolute certainty, that my position in heaven is secure and that I know without a doubt where I am going when I die, and I want you guys to know that too. So, next week we are going to go through the Gospel.”
The following week came but this week only 18 kids showed up. Nevertheless, I opened the FCA Athlete’s Bible and turned to the section “More Than Winning” which is the Gospel message. I read it to the guys virtually word for word and led them through God’s plan, the problem of sin, the cost of sin, the substitute for our sin, our response to the Good News and the invitation for Christ to be Lord over their lives. After leading them in prayer, I asked how many said that prayer? Every one of them raise his hand.
I then started to explain that it is not the prayer that saves us. It is the sincerity with which we mean it that God responds to and saves us. I explained that God seals us with His Holy Spirit and adopts us into His heavenly family. Just as I was finishing, one player raised his hand and said, “wait, can we say that prayer again?” He clearly wanted to make sure that his heart was right. I asked the guys who wanted to say that prayer again and every one of them wanted to make sure their heart was right. We prayed again. Then I asked them who wanted one of the Athlete’s Bibles. All of them put their hands up.
For two weeks, I petitioned the Lord asking, “why were there only 18 that night?” Three days ago, I was on a phone conversation with a dear friend who was raised up in the Jewish faith. As I told him the story and explained that only 18 came this night, he paused me and asked, “Dan, do you realize what 18 means in Hebrew?” After answering, “no” he proceeded to explain that 18 in Hebrew is the word “Chai”. The word chai means “Life”. I told him that he was an answer to prayer because I have been wanting to know why only 18 came. Clearly it was God’s plan to give spiritual life to 18 kids that night.
My friend went on to tell me that the Jewish people tend to only give in denominations of 18 because of its representation of “life”. I was just about to head into a board meeting to discuss partner giving levels for individual donors and we planned to specifically discuss the entry level gift for new donors. Again, God’s providence was abundantly apparent as I went into the board meeting saying, “I have it. God gave me the number we have been looking for and it is the number 18.”
This past Thursday night I had the pleasure and honor of handing out FCA Athlete’s Bible to each of them.
To further emphasize the significance of the number 18, there is an iconic picture from 1967 depicting a young boy watching a group of older boys circled up in a huddle doing a Bible study. This picture is used by FCA to represent “Influence”.
So, here is your entry point to supporting the ministry if you are not supporting it yet. You will truly be a giver of spiritual life.
Naturally, you are free to give any amount from $1 up but on a monthly recurring basis, the cost of a large pizza per month, will help us to sustain God’s work through FCA in Central and Western Massachusetts.
To become a Chai donor and a giver of spiritual life to coaches and athletes, go to this link and choose the “Other” option to enter $18 on a monthly basis.
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.