By Mya Hudgins, Contributing Writer
Oklahoma Baptist University offers one group that is specially designed for fellow athletes: the FCA.
“FCA stands for Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” said co-chair, athlete and sophomore exercise sports science major Sydney Lawrence.
“However, you do not have to be an athlete to be a part of this ministry. The purpose of FCA is to provide a community of believers that support each other and form Christ-centered relationships so that we can encourage each other in our walk with Christ and glorify Him in our actions in our respective activities/sports and all aspects of life.”
According to the FCA homepage, the organization is an “international non-profit Christian sports ministry based in Kansas City, Missouri. FCA was founded in 1954. It has staff offices located throughout the United States and abroad. FCA’s mission is to present to athletes and coaches, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church. Its vision is to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.”
The group was founded in 1954 by “Eastern Oklahoma A&M basketball coach Don McClanen, who later resigned to become its full-time director,” according to the site.
“After watching sports stars use fame to endorse and sell general merchandise, McClanen wrote to 19 prominent sports figures asking for their help in establishing an organization that would use the same principle to share the Christian faith.”
FCA has been in operation for over 60 years and has become a “global Christian sports ministry reaching more than two million people per year at the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth sports levels.”
As of this year, more than 9,000 school campuses have an active FCA organization, and nationally, there are more than 450,000 participants.
One reason why FCA is such a natural fit for Bison Hill is the university mission statement to integrate faith and learning.
OBU strives to pour the Gospel into every person on campus, and this organization provides a specific and nurturing environment for students.
In fact, the OBU athletics homepage mentions FCA by name; one of the core philosophies of campus sports includes: “to encourage growth as Christians and as campus citizens by becoming involved in and assuming leadership roles in all aspects of campus life and by maintaining active chapters of organizations such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Athletes in Action.”
The group meets every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. in the Mabee Suite, with weekly Huddle meetings (small groups) and a monthly large gathering event, according to the events calendar.
FCA offers another way to worship and have student fellowship.
“For athletes it’s important, because as much as it may seem like it, student-athlete life is not easy or glamorous,” Lawrence said.
“It takes constant motivation and strength, which is why we need each other to encourage us in our faith. The only place we find constant strength is in Christ. Plus, as athletes it can be so easy to get so caught up in thinking that our sport is all we need or that it defines us, but this is not true. Jesus is our only source of eternal value and worth, while everything here on earth is temporary.”
Lawrence has expressed her desire to incorporate her faith in her athletic performance from the moment she stepped on campus.
“I could feel the presence of Christ as I visited the campus and met all the staff and students,” she said in her athletic profile. “
I love how the focus is centered on Christ and the mission is to equip the students not only with the skills and knowledge that they need for their careers, but also with the knowledge and love of Christ to go out and make disciples.”
She is not alone in her dedication to the organization and its mission.
Athlete and freshman nursing major Megan Allen said she has experienced so many new things while attending FCA here at OBU.
“It is a great way to be plugged in and get to know other people from your sport and other sports,” she said.
“It really connects us together and you get to do life with these people. We worship and play games. It is a great way to get to know people especially [during my] my freshman year. I have loved getting to grow my faith.”
To Lawrence, FCA has reminded her of the importance of her faith, and the opportunity has been a big impact of her college career, she said.
“It has been a great reminder that Christ still reigns and rules even when we’re taking part in our various activities and sports and things are going so well, we point to Christ in those moments and remain humbled and thankful that He blesses us with those abilities,” Lawrence said.
“And then when things aren’t going so well, we look to Him for strength and remember that in our weakest moments He is glorified even more. It has also provided a place where we can go to encourage and be encouraged, which is so needed whether you’re in a sport or not.”
There is only one more FCA meeting this semester, Wednesday, April 19, but Lawrence said she still has hopes and dreams that extend beyond the semester.
“We are hoping to form a really strong leadership group to be fully committed to the mission of FCA and with that, draw in more students to study the Word of God together and have gospel-centered conversation so we can go out and be a light for Christ in every area of our lives,” she said.
She said she believes this OBU activity has blessed and changed many people’s lives, Lawrence has set goals to keep it running strong and desires to share the Gospel with her teammates.
“Please come join us on Wednesday, April 19th at 8pm for our last night of FCA for the year,” she said. “Follow us on twitter [at @OKBUFCA] where we will later announce it and where it will be.”