By John Fulton
Fellowship of Christian Athletes began with an idea by Paul Mclanen in 1954. “He thought if athletes could endorse shaving cream, razor blades and cigarettes then they could endorse the Lord too”, said Mickey Steward at FCA headquarters. What began with McClanen and some Pittsburg business owners like Branch Rickey and Paul Bendum underwriting expenses is now celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2014.
These Christians began this as an outreach to athletes and coaches as a way to impact their lives for Jesus Christ. This remains the central FCA mission today. The first camp was at Estes Park, Colorado with 256 athletes and coaches in attendance. Today the FCA Camp Ministry exceeds 350 camps and 50,000 attendees. They employ over 1,000 staff at their international headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. “Today the vast majority of supporters are individuals who have a heart for and interest in the ministry of FCA,” said Mike McGeath, Southwest Michigan Area Direct for FCA.
FCA has developed a new initiative called, The Three Dimensional Coaching, another “C”. This program is designed to get coaches involved in more than the Sport Camps. FCA wants to Impact the coaches at camps so the coaches can impact the students. There are seven different camps that focus on leadership, sports, coaches and worldwide impact. All of these camps seek the same goal; to involve and impact coaches so coaches can make a positive and eternal significance in the students the impact.
The purpose of Campus Ministry, through various types, has been to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost and to seek to grow and mature a follower of Jesus Christ. The “win” of Campus Ministry is to see campuses impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches. This ministry includes the campus huddles, team bible studies, and chaplain programs among others.
The Last C is Community Ministry. This involves partnerships with local churches, business, parents and volunteers to reach out to the community and also allow the community to invest in athletes and coaches. Community Ministry includes stewardship, sport-specific ministries, clinics and professional athlete ministries.
Vicksburg Bulldog Stadium hosted a Fields of Faith event in 2013. This is a national peer to peer event where students invite classmates and teammates to hear Christian testimonies, be challenged to read the Word of God and accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Students work with a leadership team and local churches to plan their Fields of Faith event. The events typically have entertainment and highlight local students to create a dynamic connection with the audience.
Fields of Faith became a national event in 2006 with over 50,000 people participating, 4433 commitments to Christ and 8019 commitments to reading The Word daily. In 2013 there were 477 Fields of Faith in 38 States. Vicksburg High School was one of the two Michigan locations. Vicksburg Teacher and Coach, Scott Gajos was a featured speaker.