Fellowship of Christian Athletes Looking to Expand to Brawley, Holtville | Religion
IMPERIAL VALLEY – The local Christian Athletes Association, if it is not already in your town, might come to a school near you.
That’s the message Juan Benito and board member Matt Mincher of Christian Athletes Imperial Valley (FCAIV) got in an interview as the sports ministry group seeks to grow throughout the Imperial Valley.
Benito – the regional director of FCA IV since September 2021 – said that while the FCA is well established at El Centro and Imperial high schools, the group hopes to come to Brawley and Holtville sports in partnership with the respective schools in each city.
FCA is a global nonprofit organization that started in Norman, Oklahoma in 1954 with the idea of youth basketball coach Don McClanen to get athletic athletes to “endorse” the Christian way of life and to “bear witness to Christ” among sports coaches and athletes, according to a video on fca.org.
Through the FCA, the values of “integrity, service, teamwork and excellence” are instilled “in and through the coach,” according to an FCA program synopsis, and disseminated to athletes. in any given school sport, Benito said.
The group “focuses on serving local communities around the world by engaging, equipping and empowering coaches and athletes to unite, inspire and change the world through the gospel,” the synopsis read. .
“We seek ministry first in the hearts, marriages and families of coaches,” one can read. “Then when we’re ready, we go through the coaches to their fellow coaches, teams and athlete leaders. “
The FCA does this by engaging students through a blend of fellowship, prayer time, scripture, and sports analogy-based devotions, and by becoming a resource for coaches and students for their spiritual needs throughout. throughout their athletic seasons and school year, Mincher said. .
Mincher – pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church in Imperial and chaplain of the Imperial Tigers college football team in addition to being a member of the FCA IV board of directors – said the free breakfasts on Game Day (Team ) that the FCA provides through local businesses and church sponsors has been a way for student-athletes to get scholarship.
He said the inspirational and devotional messages or prayers before or after sports training or games had an impact on the students.
“Because it’s a public school, we respect that limit and say, ‘Hey, we’ll have it here if you want to come join us,’ and are doing it voluntarily,” Mincher said.
Mincher said devotions in Imperial are generally a period of writing tied to team values - such as unity and self-control – that work with “spiritual truth, football truth, and end it with. Jesus”.
“It’s that mix of good Bible and spiritual truths, and sports analogies go very well with those things,” he said. “Ultimately, it is Jesus who will make the difference in their walk.”
“The coaches help them prepare physically; we love to accompany them and help them prepare mentally and spiritually, ”said Benito, who is also associate minister of Valley Christian Church.
In addition to free breakfasts and pre-game Gatorades, FCA provides coach and athlete bibles specially designed for them, “so they get that sporting analogy and that all-in-one spiritual analogy. “.
“It’s part of being able to meet these kids where they are,” said Mincher.
“A lot of these kids’ schedules are busy… even Sunday mornings are tough for some of our athletes, and a lot of our athletes are believers,” he said, “so we can give them that fill. spiritual, because as well as to encourage them to make sure that they take the time after their season to tune into a church.
Mincher said coaches and players “carry a lot (of personal issues) on them,” but being at FCA allows ministry volunteers to be “just the hands and feet of Jesus to them.”
Mincher said FCA IV has supported student athletes with injuries and contacted players and coaches during the COVID-19 pandemic who were sick or lost family members to the virus.
“FCA has been that constant that says, ‘You are not alone: we will watch you, pray for you and we are here for you,” ”said Mincher.
“(It lets us show them), ‘hey, there’s someone out there who loves you and takes care of you, and you’re not alone,'” he said.
“We want them to understand that they are more than just a soccer player and that they are not defined by a Friday night or a penalty, that God has a bigger plan for them,” said Mincher, “and although football is part of it. (God’s plan) is so much bigger.
“We had a lot of support from the administration (of the school) because they saw first hand, I think the positive impact it had on their students and their coaches,” said said Benito.
Benito said FCAIV is looking for adult volunteers and student leaders for Brawley Union High School to lead their future “Huddles Campuses” so “they can be a reflection of Jesus Christ on campus.”
Benito said that all athletes from each school are invited to the Huddles Campuses, not just those from football.
“The sports part is kind of our foundation, and it opens the door, but it’s so much more than that,” he said.
“If we can make some of these coaches understand the lasting impact they can have on the lives of their athletes and do it in a spiritual way, it can have a significant impact,” said Benito.
To donate to FCA Imperial Valley online, visit Benito’s FCAIV donation page at my.fca.org.
To inquire about becoming an adult volunteer, student leader, or sponsor of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, contact Juan Benito by phone at 760-678-8608 or by email at [email protected]