Encountering Jesus!

“I came here for sport, encountered Jesus, and a new way of life!”

Those were the words of Henri, a basketball coach from Cameroon, who attended our fourth International Sports Performance Academy. The Academy is held in conjunction with the larger International Basketball Coaches Academy. It lasts twelve days in early November, but the results will last for eternity.

Paul N. picked up Henri early on a Sunday morning after his all night bus ride from Milwaukee. After breakfast with Paul and his wife, Donna, and settling into the dorms, Paul gave Henri the option of resting or going to church. “If I rest now I won’t sleep later, said Henri, and I want to discover your church.” Henri speaks only a little English so Paul found an online French Bible on his phone for him to read the Scriptures the Pastor taught from. Henri said something awoke in him during the church service. He would later tell the Pastor there was a spirit in the people and the worship that he had never felt before.

On Monday morning Henri attended a talk on “how to share your faith.” The session, led by Lisa M. who works with Paul, was part of an equipped discipleship series coaches could attend during the Academy. Henri knew about Christianity but no one had ever clearly explained the gospel to him until that day. Magloire, his translator from Togo, went through the gospel with him in his mother tongue of French. Henri encountered Jesus through this series of events, starting with the church, and ending with listening to Lisa and Magloire. Given the opportunity to pray to ask Jesus into his life, Henri responded with an enthusiastic yes!

Henri eagerly shared his story of finding new life with the rest of us and told others during the Academy what God had done in his heart. Henri’s life was not the only one changed. Three coaches from Mongolia, Niger, and Senegal also prayed to receive Christ! Charlie from Rwanda clearly understands how to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit now. Richard from South Korea experienced emotional healing and his faith was strengthened during a small group discussion where Henri and others shared similarities with his story in their own.

Ryan, a strength coach from the Philippines, now wants to recreate the Sports Performance Academy there some day. Laura, a sports physio from Honduras, wept joyfully when sharing how the Academy had given her new hope for her country… Hope that she could transfer into bringing others back with her next year. AIA also wants to take the International Coaches Academy to West Africa some day. Many coaches from there have attended over the years and seen their lives changed. But many more could experience this if we can hold it closer to their homes as well. Join us in prayer for these efforts to take God’s love through sport to opposite ends of the earth!

This year’s Academy was truly incredible. 25 Staff and 39 volunteers served our 23 international guests who came from 15 countries. Annie and Naomi, our year-round interns, did a great job of leading the Sports Performance Academy. AIA Partnered locally with 6 universities, 3 sports performance centers, 2 high schools and others. If you are a prayer partner or donor to AIA, we trust that you are encouraged to see the fruit of your prayers and donations to this ministry. These stories are only possible through our partnership with each other, making Philemon 4-7 ring true in our lives.

Thank you for making these changed lives possible.

Watch Henri’s testimony!Learning about agility at Ignition APG! Practicing ankle evals at Cedarville University. Group Shot at Cedarville.The teaching session where Henri heard the gospel!The Sports Performance Academy coaches teaching the Basketball Academy coaches how to use TheraBand.

Announcing 2019 Mission Opportunities

Athletes in Action mission teams will be traveling and serving in many locations in 2019 including South Africa, Colorado, Portugal, California, Jamaica and Alabama. We have domestic and international opportunities for you to experience missions in your field of expertise. AIA offers competitive and educational mission teams, as well as camps and projects that need your skills and knowledge. Team physicians, athletic trainers, strength coaches, exercise scientists, nutritionists and more are needed. Students in these or similar fields are welcome as well. Serve alongside colleagues and with teams committed to making a difference in the world. Check out our list of tours and projects. We may have a spot for you!

Learn More

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Meet Our New Interns!

We welcomed two new Year-Round Interns to our staff in the last two weeks! Both are certified athletic trainers who are starting their professional careers by seeking a foundation built upon spiritual and leadership development here at AIA. Take a look at our Year-Round Internships to see if this is the best option for you. In the meantime, get to know our Interns for this year!

Annie M. Home State: Maryland School: Miami University (OH) aka…the original Miami! Favorite Ice Cream: Cookies’n Cream with Rainbow Sprinkles Favorite Food: Maryland Blue Crabs Favorite Place: Ireland Favorite Bible Passages: Mark 4:35-41; John 15:1-17; Matthew 11:25-30

What do you hope to get out of this internship?   …To be trained with more skills on how to disciple athletes and to be able to equip them to grow and disciple others.

What are your career goals and aspirations? …Well this is a difficult question because the career goals I set for myself in the past have been thrown out of the window by God because He has had better plans for me, such as this internship with AIA. So with that said, I do have a passion/desire to work with the Military as an Athletic Trainer one day. But for now I am focused on AIA and see where God takes me from there.

How did you hear about AIA Sports Performance? …Thanks to modern technology I was able to find Athletes in Action through a Google search of “athletic trainer Christian ministry”. Once I heard Sports Performance’s goal is to blend Athletic Training and Ministry I knew right away this is where God was leading me!

What is your impression after your first two weeks? …After the first two weeks I am encouraged and excited because I fully understand the vision of the Sport Performance team! I have also had the chance to meet almost all of the Sport TEAM people which is encouraging because I like them all and can really see myself fitting in with them all!

Naomi R. Home State: North Dakota School: Agustana University (SD) Favorite Ice Cream: Black raspberry chip with hot fudge Favorite Food: Knoephla (German dish) Favorite Place: I want to go to Spain! Favorite Bible Passages: Psalm 139; John 15:1-17; Psalm 40: 1-3; Acts 17:24-28; Colossians 1:17

What do you hope to get out of this internship? …I hope to grow spiritually, to grow as a leader, and to continue to learn and apply engaging the lost through the platform of athletic training/sports.

What are your career goals and aspirations? …I am in the process of figuring this out :) so I don’t have a clear answer. But I would love to see if sports psychology would be in my future and how that would look integrated with athletic training and ministry.

How did you hear about AIA Sports Performance? …I first went on an international women’s basketball tour to Kenya in 2016…through that trip I heard about the Sports Performance department and applied to work with the X project team. AIA offered a blend of athletic training and ministry that I didn’t know existed!

What is your impression after your first two weeks? …I am encouraged to see the work God has done and is going to continue to do through the platform of sports. I am in awe…God is truly at work!

What would need to take place for you to look back a year from now and say, this was successful? …I would count it a success if I stayed faithful and engaged with where the Spirit lead me throughout the year…I want to walk in step with Him in whatever He desires for this internship, but it’s easy to get distracted and pulled in other directions…so it will take diligence and focus on His mission.

Are you looking for an internship in athletic training or strength & conditioning? Do you want to be developed as a leader and equipped as a life-long laborer for Christ? Look at what AIA has to offer in the form of paid internships for certified athletic trainers and strength coaches.

Encouraging Words…Pouring into Interns…Who Poured Back into Us!

In 2nd Timothy 2:2, Paul exhorts his disciple with these words…“and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Words often create indelible memories and lift us up to endure difficult times. These words of encouragement come in both directions in a teaching relationship. We recently received the following note from one of our summer interns as she finished the last days of her nine week internship…

“Thank you for everything you did for us four strangers this summer. Your wisdom, organization, and ability to handle so many situations has inspired me. Thank you for letting me practice all I’m learning at school, and challenging me to think about the bigger picture of why I do the things I do. I have been so blessed to work under you this summer. Thanks for everything!” – Cassi 

The truth is that we were blessed beyond measure to have the interns we had this summer. They were excited about their walk with the Lord, their chosen profession and serving with AIA. We never had to check behind them to see if something got done that we delegated to them. It was a joy to see them grow in their service to others, their knowledge of athletic training and their faith.  Here are more encouraging words…

“Never have I experienced a place where a missional mindset is so consistently displayed within the world of sport.” – Heather

“Thank you for being open to discuss how personal life and athletic training collide with a mission field as well. The best experience was the homeless outreach in Cincinnati, it helped me see how anyone could become homeless.” – Janell

“I got the opportunity to pray with a patient while job shadowing, then the man I was shadowing complimented me saying, “Wow, I should really do that more.”  It was very encouraging to know that X Project is giving me tools to create space for God in daily life.” – Ali

Heather also wrote, “I realized something: this summer, athletic training finally started to make sense… through the consistent discussion of worship, persistent challenging from peers, and continual opportunities to apply both professional and missional skills, I guess something ‘clicked.’ I have an understanding, albeit small, of why I am in the major I am, how I can use it to make a difference for people, how my work really is worship.”

You can read more encouraging words about X Project on Heather’s blog.


Our vision for all of our interns is to train and equip them for a lifetime of influence no matter where God takes them in life.  AIA Sports Performance has opportunities for strength coaches, athletic trainers and students in these fields. To learn more about these Internships with Athletes in Action, contact us at sportsperformance@athletesinaction.org.