“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.