Lately, it seems like each week brings more shocking news of scandals, abuse, or tragedies on college campuses around the country. Many center around college athletics, such as at Penn State, The University of Miami, and Syracuse University, just to name a few. If there ever was a question if athletic communities can influence the campus, I think we have our answer. If there ever was a question of when is the right time to reach out to this community, I believe we also have that answer.
A number of these scandals and tragedies took place in team locker rooms, but InterVarsity’s National Staff Conference 2011 showed a video of something else that was happening in these team locker rooms: Bible studies, prayer, and hope. Athletes were bringing God’s love, grace, and light to their teammates. And InterVarsity staff started seeing God’s love break through these locker room walls into different teams and spill over onto different campuses across the nation.
At the University of New Hampshire, athlete leaders continue to bring Bible studies into several of these locker rooms, including studies for athletes on the football, track, gymnastics, and soccer teams. Isaiah Martin is a football player who suffered a stroke during camp and became paralyzed on his left side. Despite being told it would be two years before he could walk again, Isaiah came back to school within five months, walking and training to play football again.
He says, “After my own personal healing with Christ, I not only felt the spirit of God, I got to see him work in student athletes on this campus. Gods’ presence is everywhere, from healing aches and sprains to eternally healing and saving souls. Athletes Intervarsity here at the University of New Hampshire is a ministry that is built on a foundation of Christ, tells truth, and seeks God first – the only true way to guarantee success.”
Athletes have unique struggles, as do Greek students, nursing students, and students in the arts. But InterVarsity staff share a common invitation: to bring the whole Gospel to the whole campus. (Read how one athlete came to Christ here.) As we see the spectrum of glaring brokenness in the athletic system on one side and a desire and hunger for the Gospel among athletes on the other side, now is the perfect time to step towards this open door.
That is why we are using Ambition, InterVarsity’s national planting conference, to continue developing this ministry to reach college athletes. If you or a student you know are interested in planting an athlete chapter, come to this conference on January 19-22, 2012. There will be a seminar on ministering to collegiate athletes, as well as resources, brainstorming sessions, and some fun competitions. Learn more about the Ambition conference here. If you have questions about athletes ministry, contact me here.
Currently, InterVarsity staff on more than 30 campuses across the nation are ministering to and sharing the Gospel with over 425 student athletes! Please continue to pray for God’s truth to be proclaimed in the locker rooms and athletic communities.
Maghan Perez is a Campus Staff Member at her alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, where she played Division I Women’s Ice Hockey and Women’s Lacrosse. Five years ago, she planted an Athletes InterVarsity chapter and is now helping to establish a regional and national athletic ministry in InterVarsity.