Nathan Keil | Lariat Sports Writer
Fellowship of Christian Athletes, or FCA as it is often referred to by athletes, coaches and those who work in sports ministry, allows student athletes to combine their athletic gifts and their faith to positively influence their communities.
“It’s using God’s Word as his game-plan to share his truths, to help understand how a relationship with Jesus Christ impacts every area of their life,” said Wes Yeary, Baylor sports chaplain. “It’s a community where they come in and build relationships, hear truths, enjoy fellowship with each other, grow in their understanding and knowledge of the purpose that God has for their lives and the relationship he has called them to.”
Yeary is entering his ninth year as sports chaplain for the Bears and has seen FCA grow and flourish in new ways each year.
“It’s been fun to watch the students take ownership of a lot of the ministry, lead and really carry on things that have been ongoing that they’ve been involved with since the beginning,” Yeary said. “Just watch as the Lord leads them to do things. That’s been the coolest part for me is watching them run with it.”
One of the the opportunities FCA has provided Baylor’s student athletes is the chance to participate in what God is doing in the world through global missions. Since Yeary has been sports chaplain, FCA has taken six trips to Africa and two to Brazil. Sometimes, entire teams participate together in trips. The softball team has made trips to Panama and Ghana while the baseball team has served in Cuba.
Although the trip may only last two weeks, the goal is to see ongoing ministry continue with these mission organizations, as well as see the attitude of serving carried over into the Waco community.
“We form partnerships that we try to serve with for three to five years in these areas and do a more continued relationship rather than just being there for two weeks,” Yeary said. “I think, overall, it also changes how they view Waco, and a lot of the local missions and ministries that we do here in Waco actually stemmed off of what we did internationally.”
These global mission trips offer student athletes chances to get away, be placed outside of the comforts of home and experience ways of life they have never seen or had not noticed before.
“All I know is God is here, and he is so good,” junior libero Jana Brusek said. “These kids have taught me more about faithfulness and perseverance than I ever could have comprehended.”
Global missions allow athletes to communicate the love of Christ and what it means to have a relationship with him through the language of sport.
“The way that we have been reaching them on a level they understand most, sports, and then tying in God in a way that they can comprehend and appreciate is the most amazing thing to me,” said Kaitlin Randle, athletic trainer. “I wanted to come on this trip to make a difference in someone’s life, but in turn, they have done a work in my own life.”
The relationships built between players and those they are serving do not quickly fade after the trip is over, as many athletes continue to remain in contact with the people they encountered on these trips.
“Those relationships are fun to watch,” Yeary said. “It is amazing how the internet can make the world so small.”
With more than 500 athletes currently competing in athletics at Baylor, it is unlikely that all of them will go on one of the summer missions trips with FCA. However, this is Yeary’s goal as FCA continues to grow and thrive on Baylor’s campus.
“I would love to see every athlete go on a mission trip before they graduate,” Yeary said. “As a minister, I hope to provide an opportunity, an example, encouragement in helping them live out their faith and apply their faith to the opportunity they’ve been given to use the talents and abilities that God blessed them with through sport.”
FCA meets at 8 p.m. Monday nights in the XTO Lounge at the Highers Simpson Athletic Complex.