This summer, FCA partnered with Korean Central Presbyterian Church and Global Christian School in Seoul to host a first-ever sports camp in South Korea. Our host, Jacob Hong, whom I’d met when we were both living in Northern Virginia, had been talking with me, praying and planning, for nine months to see FCA come to South Korea. And on July 24 that prayer materialized as an FCA team of 21 people crossed the Pacific to serve 175 South Korean campers through language, sports and spiritual education.
After several days of group prayer, fasting and planning, we began the camp on Monday, July 30, at Prayer Mountain in the city of Pocheon. And as far as we know, we broke new ground in South Korea, as there are no other overnight sports camps in the country (at least according to the people in South Korea).
Our team consisted mostly of FCA staff members, a few summer interns and a couple of FCA Huddle Coaches. It was a very skilled team with many talents. As we prepared for camp, we sensed that God was going to do a great work.
Once camp started and we’d done our initial team meeting, Huddles, ice breakers and had eaten a great dinner of kimshi and squid, we had an opening three-and-half-hour worship service. In the U.S., we complain if our hour-and-15-minute service goes long! But here, we worshipped and prayed, worshipped and prayed, and then worshipped and prayed ome more. All this with young kids! And then the speaker spoke for an hour. It was incredibly different … and amazing.
The speaker communicated with power and conviction and challenged everyone to make their lives count for Christ. During the challenge, almost all of the kids responded to the Gospel! The FCA team was more than excited to pray over the campers. And as we prayed, the Lord poured out His Spirit while we interceded for the kids. Both campers and staff wept openly.
The second day of camp brought another day of incredible ministry. We divided the kids into three large groups and spent the morning teaching them English, covering many of the sports terms we would be using later that afternoon in the three-hour sports session. The campers loved playing games and competing; they weren’t as fond of drills. Kids in Korea are just like Americans; they prefer fun and games to fundamentals!
The vision of the FCA Ministry is “to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches.” In the past 12 months, that vision has taken on a new meaning as FCA has made significant strides in international ministry. In 2007 alone, FCA either established new ministry or further developed current projects in countries such as India, Colombia, Ukraine, the Bahamas, Mexico, Italy and South Korea.
In order to keep the momentum, FCA established an international ministry task force to “fulfill the FCA vision by serving coaches and athletes internationally through resourcing, ministering, training and staffing.”
The role of the task force includes five points:
Members of the task force include FCA staff, both Home Office and field, as well as members of Operation Mobilization, a current ministry of more than 4,000 people in more than 100 countries. For more information about OM, visit om.org.
- To create a clear vision for FCA’s role in international ministry.
- To develop and oversee the implementation of plans of international ministry to enhance the FCA initiatives.
- To make decisions concerning international ministries (decisions that will impact the direction of FCA international ministry).
- To determine international priorities and the allocation of resources (people, time and money).
- To evaluate the effectiveness of FCA international ministry in meeting the needs of the ministry.
The day concluded with an evening worship service that lasted almost four hours. At the end of the meeting, the Lord moved, and the FCA staff and South Korean pastors prayed over the campers, laying hands on the students. I once read that the Puritans prayed for the gift of tears. Well, if that gift is around today, it is no more visible than in South Korea. It was incredible to see kids weeping before the Lord for over an hour, calling upon His mighty name!
Throughout the week, until camp ended on Thursday, August 2, God’s presence was felt and experienced again and again as the campers hungrily called out to the Lord. In 17 years, I have served at more than 50 FCA Camps, and I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced anything like this. It was a breakthrough for our entire team. Everyone was profoundly touched by God’s power. The Holy Spirit ministered to us and revealed so much.
Personally, I was impacted with several life-changing lessons. Here are the top three.
Lesson #1: Pressing In
Extended time before God softens the heart and prepares us to hear from Him. The Lord wants us to come into His presence to be aligned with Him. There is so much that battles against us to keep us from getting into a posture of worship: the flesh, the world and the devil. Our flesh begs us to invest minutes with God, not hours. The world tells us that we don’t have that kind of time. The enemy convinces us that we don’t need to spend time with God at all to get by. The Korean people position themselves to hear from the Lord. To see a 10- year-old boy cry out to God on his knees and lie prostrate for over an hour is powerful. It is also convicting.
Lesson #2: Early Prayer
Korean churches have early prayer and worship at 5:30 a.m. every day, seven days a week, even on Sundays before regular service. There is breakthrough going on in their churches because of the commitment to prayer! Where is our commitment to prayer? Do we expect to get the blessing without the commitment and sacrifice?
Lesson #3: Spiritual Slumber
It seems that comfort and ease is the way of the American church. God is neatly placed in a well-defined box. Worship is contained to certain time limits. To worship three to four hours every night at camp with the youth was staggering. They didn’t care how long the service went. They were face-first before their Savior, crying out to Jesus, hungry for more of God. They confessed their sins and totally surrendered to their great God. They demonstrated the childlike faith Jesus addressed in Scripture. I want faith like that. Faith that is not polluted. Faith that is pure and innocent. Faith that has no limits, no boundaries, and is not complicated with all the things of the world. Faith that is out on the edge.
America is in a deep spiritual slumber. The worst part is we don’t even know it. We have become comfortably numb. Materialism has crippled us. Programs have pushed out consuming prayer and sincere worship. Our neat, clean worship fits into our nice, scheduled life. No fuss. No mess. No layers pulled back. No issues of the heart revealed. Just keep our spiritual life predefined and neatly placed in the box with clear boundaries. Here’s a question: If the Holy Spirit left the American church would anything change? I pray that God continues to open doors for more ministry in places like South Korea. Because when He does, the Spirit moves and lives, are changed...including mine.
*For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Photos courtesy of STV Staff