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December 31, 2000: Saturday Night at The River

November 26, 2000: College athletes minstry emphasizes Holy Spirit

November 19, 2000: Bad weather doesn't dampen spirits of thousands at Detroit's Convoy of Hope

November 12, 2000: International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Church

October 29, 2000: Frontiersman way of life draws men, boys closer to Christ

September 17, 2000: Loving the unloved

September 10, 2000: Changing lives in a big way

August 13, 2000: Church planting fuels growth

July 30, 2000: Full Gospel New York Church targets 500,000 Koreans

July 16, 2000: Running the good race

July 9, 2000: Hispanic church thrives in border town

June 25, 2000: The hand of God

June 18, 2000: HonorBound: Raising an army of godly men

June 11, 2000: Illinois Christian radio stations deliver message of Christ to thousands

May 14, 2000: A/G foster families minister to children

April 30, 2000: Prison revival reaches beyond the fence

April 23, 2000: Harvest Sunday draws hundreds for water baptism

April 16, 2000: Chain reaction

April 9, 2000: One pastor's burden: reaching the 'white slums'

March 26, 2000: Cowboy church rounds up believers

March 19, 2000: Motorsports ministry: Winning souls at the track

March 12, 2000: A dream blooms in the desert

February 20, 2000: Romanian church prospers for 20 years

February 13, 2000: Ministry at a strategic academic crossroads

January 23, 2000: God's Navy

College athletes ministry emphasizes Holy Spirit

(November 26, 2000)

Several Olympic, NFL and collegiate athletes spent their off seasons working out at the Phoenix Swim Club, which offers a 15,000-square-foot weight room, swimming pools, a football field, a track and a horde of trainers, rehabilitation therapists and sports psychologists. The facility, owned by Athletes International Ministries at Phoenix First Assembly (Tommy Barnett, pastor), recently joined with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, the Assemblies of God outreach to secular campuses, to train ministers who have an inclination toward sports and a passion for leading others to Christ.

Student athletes attend a Bible study as part of their training at the Phoenix Swim Club.

"AIM had a burden to reach the college athlete, but did not have an outlet," says John Williamson, a nationally appointed home missionary and AIM college director. "By linking Chi Alpha with AIM we are able to train pastors who will specialize in ministering to college athletes."

Williamson says there are several ministries geared to college athletes across the United States that are doing a cogent job of leading athletes to a meaningful relationship with Christ. But Williamson says he wants to offer student athletes something many other ministries neglect — an introduction to the Holy Spirit.

"Many athlete ministries don’t have a desire to embrace the gifts of the Spirit, let alone the baptism in the Holy Spirit," he says. "I see us affecting America’s colleges and universities by a move of the Holy Spirit."

To do that, the Chi Alpha-AIM partnership started two rigorous programs intent on developing Spirit-filled athlete-pastors for the college campus. During the summer, five students from Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, Pa., one of 18 endorsed Assemblies of God colleges, took part in a seven-week internship.

Each day interns were required to rise early for prayer and devotions before coaching and ministering to children in sports camps. After lunch, interns participated in strenuous physical workouts, then spent time studying their Bibles and memorizing Scripture, sometimes with Christian professional athletes. During the evenings the interns took part in outreaches in the community and at prisons and schools.

Mark Laird, a recent VFCC graduate, went through the internship because he wanted to couple his ministry aspirations with sports. Laird admits the internship was tougher than expected, but says it was great training for his mind, body and soul.

"It was a rigid schedule, but we had an opportunity to be an example to the kids they brought in for the sports camps," he says. "Athletics have opened doors for me to share my faith in Christ in the past and it will continue to do so in the future."

Chris Davenport, a VFCC junior, is working toward a youth ministries degree and says the internship provided an opportunity to deal with some issues that were causing him trepidation.

"I learned that pleasing God should be the No. 1 priority in my life — if I please God that’s all that matters," he says. "I also had never preached before doing my internship, but now that is off my shoulders and I really am getting used to it."

This fall a new program called Ambassador began for those who want to minister to college athletes. It is similar to the internship program, but lasts nine months rather than seven weeks.

Williamson says it is imperative that athlete-pastors are sent to college and university campuses because of the glaring spotlight the world places on sports.

"Athletes have been given a gift," he says. "If we can bring them to a place where they give glory to God for their gift rather than worshiping their gift, we will literally be influencing the world because of the platform they are given."

— Kirk Noonan


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