Athletes, Batons, and Camps

With the first month of our internship going full blast, we as interns have settled into our individual roles and have come together for some key events. The athletic trainers have stayed relatively busy with the Xenia Scouts but had a break this past week as rain and storms cancelled a few games in a row. The interns in the office have grown into their roles as well, taking responsibility for planning the Total Athlete Camp and creating X-Project gear and marketing material. Each “team” of interns has had opportunities to grow together as a team, while still improving professionally in their fields. The traditional “Passing the Baton” banquet took place last Saturday, with the X-Project Staff transitioning out of the project and each of the interns given a primary and secondary role for the remainder of the project. This is different from other projects, with a lot of the staff remaining in the area or at HQ since they work here. However, having the staff close by is also a blessing. The discipleship relationships can continue and develop while also giving us interns the opportunity to take more responsibility and run with it.

The first week on our own consists of two major camps here at HQ: Ultimate Training Camp and JAM Camp. Although it would make sense to be nervous and stressed over being “in charge” for the first time, the intern team has done well managing added responsibilities along with normal and assigned duties for the camp.

Ultimate Training Camp is happening this week, which is a major part of our responsibility this summer. High schoolers from all over the nation come to train and learn the AIA principles, with the chance to participate in the SPECIAL, a twenty-hour long feat of physical exhaustion designed to facilitate complete dependence on the Lord. Competitions and reflection times fill the athletes’ days during UTC, with constant reminders of the principles and teamwork. Ten of the fourteen interns serve as leaders for this camp, with the other four serving as medical staff during the competitions and events. Along with the SPECIAL and learning the principles, the athletes also are blessed with small group, or huddle, time. Huddle time allows the athletes to meet with a leader or staff member and dig into what they’re learning in a more intimate setting, with only two or three other athletes. Leaders and staff are also available for discipleship during meals, which allows the interns to practice what they are learning and the athletes to glean knowledge and advice from people not much older than them. Jacob has appreciated watching the athletes learn the principles, saying “I’ve grown in understanding the principles on a deeper level. Having a bird’s eye view of the students doing their labs has really given me a newfound respect for the staff here on X Project and AIA as a whole.” Leaders and staff spend a lot of time in prayer for the athletes, for safety, and for the Gospel to sink in and be taken seriously in the hearts and minds of the athletes.

Mental and physical exhaustion is common during this week, even before the SPECIAL begins. Matt, a team leader, said, “For them, I think it [the SPECIAL] will be humbling. We can talk about principles, we can talk about how to make God a bigger part of our sport, but… how do you respond when you literally are at your end? They’ll really get to see what we’re talking about. We want them to not just know it in their head but have it in their heart and [know] that this isn’t just knowledge. This is something we want you to live by…to use one of your biggest passions for sharing and being an image-bearer.” Within the SPECIAL, there will be times to reflect on what has been learned so far and meditate on Scripture. Please be praying for the athletes, interns, and staff during this week as we delve into physical and mental exhaustion while focusing on the Lord’s strength.

Although UTC requires a lot of time and attention from all of the interns and staff, the interns still have found time to encourage one another and spend time in community. Olivia said “the best thing I’ve experienced is fellowship with all of [the interns] and growing further in my faith and discipleship abilities.” We look forward to time spent together growing in our faith and relationship with each other. Although we all have different schedules and responsibilities, intentionality is not uncommon within the group of interns. Being surrounded by people who have the common goal of making the Lord known through sport is an enormous blessing, especially as a lot of the interns are in a position of soon graduating from college and making future plans. It has been an eye-opening experience for some, as the setting provided by the internship has revealed God’s work through the community around them to move in their life.

HOW YOU CAN PRAY

-pray for the athletes at the UTC and JAM camp

-pray for the interns as some participate in the SPECIAL and all are working the UTC

-pray for the Gospel to be clearly presented

-pray for continued community among the interns and boldness in reaching those we meet

DUE TO TECHNOLOGICAL DIFFICULTIES, THIS WAS PUBLISHED LATER THAN INTENDED

Surrender

It all began with a question I had for God: What do you want me to surrender? As if in a vision of fire like that of the burning bush, the reply came: Everything. I have to be honest, though. Even after that dramatic interaction with God, He had to drag me to where He wanted me to be. Though I had no idea what I would be doing this summer, I didn’t imagine it would be an X Project internship. I’ll go ahead and spoil the ending, however, because I am beyond grateful to be here.

But first let me introduce myself. My names is Josiah. At Cincinnati Christian University where I attend, I am a Biblical Studies student and a Residential Assistant, or RA. I love my school and my community there, and am excited to start my senior year this fall. Originally, however, I am from Hawaii. I was born and raised on Oahu but my family recently moved to Ohio. The transition from having two seasons in Hawaii–rainy season and sunny season–to the dynamic and unpredictable seasons of the Midwest has been rough at times, but I enjoy my second home here.

As spring semester approached its end, I began to evaluate my options for summer. Many options vied for my attention this summer, from camps to jobs that could potentially make me a lot of money. But God called me to follow Him. This is when I began to drag my feet, because my pride told me I could make a better plan than God. Nevertheless, I gave up my plans and I applied for X Project.

After only two-and-a-half weeks in, I am convinced that my plans would never have been as good as God’s. It’s shocking how evident it is that God called me to be here, and how everything I’m learning lines up perfectly with what I need. That’s not even to mention how happy I am here. I spend most of my time outside working on the Challenge Course as an assistant facilitator. This means I get to see the beauty of physical challenges leading people to discover deeper realities about themselves or their situation. It’s also teaching me a lot.

Being an RA means I’m always in a leadership position when school is in session, and helping at the challenge course means I consistently get to practice leadership skills. This could mean taking charge of groups of middle schoolers, business professionals, or anything in between. I already have gained skills that I know will benefit my floor when I get back to school. Beyond being an RA, however, I’ve always been involved with ministries at my local church, and everything I’m learning will also apply to that.  

The challenge course also collides with the spiritual aspect of X Project. As previously mentioned, this was a turning point in my life. It is not to say that I did not have a relationship with God before X Project, but I knew that He was calling me to take the next step in my journey with Him. X Project has been that next step. Between being mentored, taught principles for life, and having deep, authentic fellowship with other believers, I am being spiritually built up in ways I never have been before.

The rest of my time here could be spent building on what I’ve already been learning and I would be completely satisfied. But I know there is still more to learn, more experiences to share, more memories to be made. I know I’ll continue to be mentored in a way that teaches me how to become a mentor to someone else. I’ll continue to grow awesome friendships, complete with inside jokes and shared lessons. This will be a summer I’ll always remember. 

When God asked me to surrender everything, I didn’t expect to get so much in return. But that’s the thing about God, He’s always breaking one’s expectations. I couldn’t be happier that He brought me here, and this lesson of surrender is one that changes how I am living. So here’s to God breaking our expectations and taking us on adventures we never saw coming! 

Week 1 in the books!

What a great first week in Xenia! Immediately upon arriving, we met each other and spent the day in orientation, exploring AIA’s campus. After being assigned our intern teams, we made tracks all throughout Xenia on an “AIA-mazing Race.” The race was on to beat the clock, with 12 different stops all around the town within an hour.

“Fun to Fun”

“Zach’s Team”

“The Three Musketeers”

“Ocean Stars”

Saturday morning was filled with more team-building events, this time focused on guiding each other through obstacles. AIA has a challenge course, with multiple low-course obstacles including a “ravine,” a “wild-woozy,” and a 12-foot wall. Our task was to think critically with each other to figure out how to get through the obstacles and complete the challenge in a limited amount of time.

The team attempts to start crossing the “ravine.”

A highlight for a lot of the interns, myself included, was when we overcame the wall. We managed to hoist everyone except for the last person, Lindsey, up the wall. At the beginning of the challenge, we had come up with a plan we thought would work for getting her up the wall, since no one was left to give her a boost. Unfortunately, when Lindsey was the only person left on the ground, the plan didn’t work. She couldn’t jump high enough to reach Matt and Malik’s outstretched hands. At her highest point, 8 inches still separated their fingertips. A quest ensued for a better plan, one that would still allow us to finish the course. Debbie, the instructor, jumped in with a suggestion: put on a harness, have someone climb halfway up the wall, and let Lindsey climb over the first person then help the first person up. After deliberation, Matt volunteered to be the middle man. We hoisted him up onto the wall and he grabbed ahold of the top, anchoring himself and allowing Lindsey to then climb up over him.

After we finished the course, we gathered for a debrief time, when the situation at the wall was brought up. There was no way, on our own knowledge and ability, that Lindsey could have gotten up the wall. Debbie provided insight because she knew the only way it would work for Lindsey to get over the wall; in a way, Debbie was representing God in the situation. She knew the only way Lindsey was going to get over the wall was by sending Matt down from the top of the wall to hang in the balance. Matt depicted Christ, sacrificing his own position at the top of the wall to come back down and provide Lindsey a way to the top. I think all of us at that moment were drawn into the physical representation of the Gospel we had just witnessed.

Team-building and fear-conquering activities continued Saturday afternoon, as we attempted high-ropes course with a partner. Some were more courageous than others, balancing on ropes and bridges 40 feet in the air. Over all, the first weekend at X-Project was a blast, providing us ample opportunity to get into our “growth zone” and be challenged physically and spiritually.

Debriefing after some team-building challenges.

Monday marked the start of a full week of training, beginning with learning AIA Principle 1: Audience of One. After teaching and discussion, we applied the principle through volleyball, competing with the remembrance that we are playing with God, not for a crowd or for approval. Discipleship groups followed, giving each of us a chance to digest and discuss everything we had been taught and applying. Tuesday we met with our supervisors and had orientation into our individual jobs for the summer. As an athletic training intern, I get to work with the Xenia Scouts baseball team along with three other interns: Cassi, Ali, and Janell. It’s so cool how God works, bringing together the four of us, three of whom are from the Dakotas and two of whom attend the same school. After Wednesday morning, we realized three of the four of us have the same top strength in common (according to StrengthsFinders). I am excited to see how that will play out within our sports medicine team this summer! The rest of the week was spent at a retreat center, learning Principles 2, Inside Game, and 3, Holy Sweat/Wholly Surrender, and spending time going over the book GodSpace. Saturday we went out into the community to practice creating GodSpace and having conversations with people we met. That brings us to this week, when we will dive into the “office” portion of our internship and begin meeting the athletes we are working with.

I think I speak for all the sports medicine interns when I say it is such a blessing to be immersed in a culture where faith, action, and sports medicine collide. I am super excited to be challenged and encouraged this summer. Even outside of our sports medicine team, the depth of friendships created in the short time we interns have known each other is a testament to the family of God. Immediately, I felt welcomed and was brought into a community of Christ-followers committed to making the Gospel known in every team, every sport, and every nation.

X-Project interns and staff at the weekend retreat

-Heather, Intern for Athletic Training

Welcome Weekend!

Wow, what an exciting weekend! We welcomed the interns to Xenia and we are so excited for the rest of the summer! It has been a crazy couple of days jam packed with activities and new information. We have been spending a lot of time together getting to know each other as well as more about AIA.

To get the interns acquainted with each other we spent a whole day out on our challenge course. The interns were pushed and challenged to build trust and teamwork throughout the day. We had a blast! Through each challenge, the interns were able to make connections to their time on project this summer as well as to their walk with the Lord.

Interns

One challenge in particular had a great impact and gave each of us an amazing picture of the Gospel. The interns were challenged to all get over this giant wall. They had to use each other to prop each other up as well as pull each other over the wall. It required great teamwork. The last person, however, had no help at the bottom and only could jump to try and reach the people up top. As the last intern tried to reach the people up top, she was several feet short of reaching them. She was unable to jump high enough to make it. It was impossible. However, the facilitator stepped in and gave the interns another option. She told them that they could have one person come down and hang by the top of the wall, as the last intern used them to climb to the top. The person hanging, sacrificed their body, so that she could make it.

As we reflected on this, we were able to see such a significant representation of Christ coming down to us (like the intern hanging from the wall), and dying on a cross, so that we can come through him and be with God (allowing her to reach the top). Like the intern, we are not able to come to God through our own efforts and we need the help of another. What an incredible and sweet picture of the Gospel we were able to experience.

It has been a great weekend and we are gearing up for a retreat together to continue getting to know each other and the heart behind Athletes in Action. It’s gonna be a good week!

Meet the Team - Kelly

My name is Kelly and it’s my honor to serve as the Director for X Project. As the oldest momma in this family photo, you can see that doing life with 20-something’s is a big part of my current reality. Serving in this role affords me the blessing of “adopting” additional 20-somethings to walk with through this significant and familiar season.

My husband and I followed God’s calling to Athletes in Action in mid-career and moved to Xenia about 14 years ago… part of the Sports T.E.A.M. division. In addition to directing X Project, we are devoted to serving coaches and athletes and their families primarily through the men’s basketball department. God keeps showing up in remarkable ways… drawing people to Himself and changing lives through the platform of sport… and we are thrilled to be a part!

One of my traditional hobbies is digging in the dirt – planting and transplanting – watching things grow, die, and grow again (gardening). Less traditionally, I relish (1) doing something I’ve never done before and (2) celebrating when I’m not in a hurry… like sitting down for dinner with others who are unhurried, enjoying conversation and maybe even an after-dinner game or walk.

As X Project draws near, I look forward to encouraging our interns to discover and embrace their uniquely-designed-by-God selves, step into growth zones, understand how we are better together and, ultimately, be overwhelmed with the mercy, grace and love of God… bringing Him glory all the days of their lives!