By: Rex Stump
An intense game concludes, fans are still fired up while the players are exhausted, some celebrate while others complain…and then it happens. In the middle of the playing field two rival teams circle up…and pray. Pray? Harsh words may have been exchanged during the game, but now words are being lifted to God. What’s this all about?
Root beer floats are sold at lunch, loose change buckets are set in the school office, and another fund-raiser takes place. School trip? New uniforms? No, it’s just an opportunity to raise money to help out a needy family in the community. What’s this all about?
Teens visiting nursing homes, banquets being held to honor local coaches and their spouses, hospital visits made…what is this all about?
It’s one of the best kept secrets in NW Ohio! It’s all about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is touching millions of lives, one heart at a time. Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful platform of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ.
Locally, the Buckeye Border FCA focuses on seven counties. Five counties in NW Ohio: Fulton, Henry, Defiance, Paulding, and Williams, as well as two counties in Michigan: Lenawee and Hillsdale. Because this office serves on the borders of Michigan and Indiana, it seemed natural to be called Buckeye Border FCA, which also distinguishes this office from the Northwest Ohio FCA office. This office is located in Wauseon, but their staff is spread out from Hicksville (Ohio) to Adrian (Michigan).
The Buckeye Border FCA is composed of a great team of competitors for Christ! The Buckeye Border FCA team consists of staff, volunteers, coaches, board members, financial supporters (Home Team), and most importantly…the students!
Rex Stump (Area Director); Jenny Stump (Office Administrator); Daniel Vandock (Area Representative); Josh Erd (FCA Baseball & Area Representative); and Rick Straley (Area Representative) serve as staff in the office. Besides staff there are hundreds of incredible volunteers who serve as Huddle leaders in area schools! Without these volunteers, the ministry doesn’t succeed!
The Buckeye Border office also has a leadership team (Board of directors) that oversees the ministries, finances, and development of this area. This leadership team meets quarterly as a whole and monthly in teams. These men and women are devoted to God and the ministry of FCA in our area and have helped launch us in the right direction.
Another huge part of the team is the financial supporters, better known as the Home Team. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, functioning and relying solely upon donations from individuals, churches, and businesses. “We are local missionaries, having to raise 100% of our budget, depending on people to support what we do. If people don’t give, we shut down.” There have been times when this office received notice that if they didn’t raise a certain amount by the end of the month, they would not get paid and we would not be able to continue to full time ministry. Unfortunately many ministries face these financial struggles. “When we first started, we were selling things on EBay to pay the bills, no insurance, and working part-time. It wasn’t easy, but we knew this is what God called us to do. It has really stretched our faith!” Fortunately, as things have gotten tight financially, God has provided and the ministry continues. “That is a scary time for multiple reasons, but ultimately disappointing because we don’t want to see all these great things come to an end.” What great things have we witnessed in the past nine years?
Nine years ago we started with three schools, no team times, no camps, no school assemblies, and basically a wimpy ministry. Today, we are impacting over 60 schools with multiple FCA ministries! We have 52 active campus Huddles, 83 team times, over a dozen school assemblies, dozens of events and camps! Every year thousands are locally impacted by this ministry!
Take a look around and it won’t be long till you see multiple problems! Ambition is down, anxiety is up! Coaches are second in divorce rate, with high pressures coming from every side! Violence, lack of respect, drug issues, and the problems are endless! But we have the answer! It’s not a new gym, new uniforms, or an extreme makeover – it’s getting to the heart of the issue! A changed core from the inside out! We want to reach their heart! The vision of FCA is to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
Our mission is to present to coaches and athletes, 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! We have a mission! We know that we are not perfect, and you will see these kids (and adults) make mistakes. Praise God that we serve a forgiving God, full of grace, who encourages us to get back up and try again!