AIA Mission's Voice

  • The Principles at Work

    Section: Sports Perf.

    Team Notes ( Non- Project): AIA Sports Performance

    2017 Teams: Sports Perf. - South Africa

    Thursday & Friday of this trip represented the 20-hour athletic competition, known as the SPECIAL. As Rachel explained earlier, it's a grueling competition with minimal sleep, lots of burpees, and lots of bruises. I think all the athletes now have some level of PTSD when it comes to pushups and bear crawls!! 

    As part of the staff not competing, we had been prepping the athletes all week with warnings to stay hydrated (to help avoid full-body cramping), rest up, and to prepare their hearts & minds for the challenge ahead. Had we been in a different setting in the States, perhaps these coaches might have told the athletes to mentailly prepare themselves to rise to this challenge, to use all their mental energy to complete the task ahead. Instead the AIA staff led workshops to teach 5 Principles pointing towards leaning on God, not our own strength to persist when the body fails. The following Principle titles will give you a hint into the types of conversations we had, and the way our athletic and professional (sports medicine) attitudes can be glorifying to God: 

    1. AUDIENCE OF ONE. God Alone is Worthy of Your Worship
    2. INSIDE GAME. God's Love Moves You From Fear to Freedom
    3. HOLY SWEAT, WHOLLY SURRENDER. God Provides Resources for Soul Training to Help You Grow
    4. HURTIN' FOR CERTAIN. God Redeems Suffering for Our Good & His Glory
    5. VICTORY BEYOND COMPETITION. God Requires Total Investment Today for Eternal Return Tomorrow

    Since I was providing athletic training coverage in the SPECIAL, I was allowed an inside view into the overall organization, exercises choice, and flow of the 20-hour event. The first time I looked at the schedule of events, believe me, both my eyebrows shot up! This was no Tough Mudder or fun run. This event was truly designed to have the athletes perform a sequence of athletic events in which their bodies would fail. They could not complete it in their own strength! They would need their teammates help. And when their teammates could no longer lift them up, the athletes turned to God for the strength to continue. 

    As an athletic trainer, I have rarely felt inadiquate in my skills and ability to provide for hurting athletes. However, after the first few hours of the SPECIAL, I realized that this would be a struggle & experience between each athlete and God. I could refill water bottles, run around stretching legs, evaluating ankles, and massaging cramps (and I stayed busy doing all those things!), but when it came down to it, this was about individual surrender to God and glorifying him. So I found myself praying for each athlete from the sidelines. Most of these athletes I had met just five days previously; some I had gotten to know through their testimonies & stories; some were local South Africans I had just met. Unlike my teams in the States, I didn't know their life story, their medical history, or their physical limitations. I could only pray that God would meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in a big way. 

    In the hours that followed the completion of SPECIAL, many of the athletes shared the mental battles they were fighting over the course of the 20 hours. I had the priviledge of witnessing many of these battles. Christ shown through the pain, the bruises, the tears, and the cramps, and revealed His strength by sustaining the athletes. It was a beautiful thing to see the surrender as each athlete met his/her breaking point! There were so many moments where the AIA staff and athletic trainers were in tears as we watched these athletes transformed through Christ as they let go of themselves. Rachel mentioned the moment where she was doing wall sits for 15 minutes. What she didn't mention is that by minute 10, everyone in the gym had noticed that she and Theo were still going (while all other athletes had sat down). And when the song Child of God came on, Rachel sat on the wall with outstretched arms, SINGING!! 

    It was a tumuluous 20 hours for all of us. The staff was just as sleep deprived as the athletes. (I slept for 14 hours the following night!) But as we met together at the conclusion of the SPECIAL, we were vulnerable with our experiences, vulnerable about how God has spoken in our lives, and joyful that we were able to experience this in beautiful South Africa!

    Thank you to all who have supported us this far and made this trip a reality. We get to be a part of God's mission, love like Jesus, and help break down racial & social barriers that still exist down here in SA.

    Much love,

    Jess

  • Insert Growl Here

    Section: Sports Perf.

    Team Notes ( Non- Project): AIA Sports Performance

    2017 Teams: Sports Perf. - South Africa

    This Thursday and Friday I had the amazing privelige of participating in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. as both an athlete and an athletic training student. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stands for Scriputraul Principles + Exhaustion = Confidence In Almighty Lord. In the beginning of the week each athlete and athletic trainer was taught specific prinicples based on scripture. These principles were used to show us how to glorify the Lord through our careers and sports. To fully apply these principles, our skills as athletes and athletic trainers were put to the ultimate test. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. involved 20 hours of rigorous exercise with a total of 2 hours of sleep. During this time we were supposed to apply the principles we learned to glorify God during our exercises. 

    At the start of our trip I was supposed to be involved in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. working as an athletic trainer. But a few days in, both Emily and I were asked to join the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. as athletes because they needed two more people to complete the teams. As a cross country runner I immediatley agreed. I wanted the chance to apply what I had learned during the week through an athlete's perspective. I also thought I could handle the intensity of the exercise. I have been running and training for season all summer. I thought I was in great shape. Boy was I wrong!

    About an hour into the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. I realized that I completely underestimated what I got myself into. My muscles were aching, my knees were bruised, and I still had 19 hours left. Each exercise I did I tried to push myself to the best of my ability. But I soon saw those efforts were in vain. My body was so tired I quickly lost motivation. Each time I would lose motivation and my body wanted to quit a low growl would escape from my throat. I'm sure this must have terrified my team mates. Here I am this petite twenty year old lady growling like an animal! 

    But soon not even the growls and grunts wouldn't keep me motivated. At one point my team and I were expected do wall sits for fifteen minutes. If we could not complete the task we had to do V-ups (ab exercises) until the time was over. I have never done wall sits for longer than two minutes before. Three minutes into the wall sits I was growling and my legs were shaking and burning. I was ready to quit. But then Theo, my teammate, reminded me I was doing these wall sits to glorify God. So I pushed myself to five minutes. Again, I was ready to quit and drop. But then the Lord placed a this thought on my heart: Jesus endured wall sits.

    The cross is designed to cause a person to slowly suffocate to death. The person nailed to the cross can only breathe if they push their body up with their legs to allow their lungs to take in air. This action would look very similar to a wall sit and would use very similar musculature. My sins caused Jesus to endure this excruciating pain. He did hours of wall sits, just to be able to breathe, out of love for me.

    This completely broke my pride. Up until this point I had been competeing for a very selfish reason: to prove I was an acceptable athlete. I was pushing with my own strength and growls. Through tears I asked the Lord to forgive me of my selfish pride and thanked Him for the opportunity to glorify Him. And as I was praying, the stereo next to me began to play these lyrics, "I'm no longer a slave to sin. I am a child of God." Those words rang true and continued to remind me of the penalty of the cross. 

    With a fresh set of tears, aching legs, and a humbled attitude, Theo and I successfully completed fifteen minutes of wall sits while singing those lyrics in worship to our King. 

    Looking back at the event I am reminded of this thought, "Break me until I am wholly yours." Sometimes, as people, we let our pride stand in the way of letting the Lord fully enter our lives. For me it took the Lord physically and mentally breaking me through the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. to help me realize my pride was standing in the way of His work in my life. I cannot complete fifteen minutes of wall sits on my own. The Lord allowed that to happen to show me how powerfully He can work if only I would surrender my pride and let Him strengthen me and not rely on my own strength. 

    2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 

    So maybe instead of inserting a growl and relying on our own strength, we should insert God and allow Him full control of our lives so His strength can shine through.  

    In Christ's love,

    Rachel 

  • The Start of the Life Changer

    Section: Sports Perf.

    Team Notes ( Non- Project): AIA Sports Performance

    2017 Teams: Sports Perf. - South Africa

    Tuesday was the start of the Ultimate Training Camp- aka the life challenger. After setting up the hall of the Kuil River Technical school, we sat down to go over the first teaching principle called Audience of One. From the opening sentence, I knew God was going to use this camp to renew my heart. I did not know how much God was going to teach me on this trip because I went in with the mindset of helping the athletes and maybe I will get a little something out of it. This principle's main question is who or what do we worship? This hit me because with my job I can tend to put all of my focus on performing for my peers and superiors rather than Christ. After that first principle teaching I knew that God was going to be stripping me down and building me back up. He continued to do that in the next day as well.

    Wednesday hit me just as hard, but from another angle. It is truly amazing how He reveals His truths in your life. I was not supposed to be on this trip, but after the first day of teaching I knew it was meant to be. 

    These South African people are truly incredible! They are warriors- in how they are hungry for God's Word, learning how to play the unfamilar sport of volleyball, and learned to be super aggressive in the card game of spoons. They try their best in everything they attempt. Watching them overcome everything we tried in this Ultimate Training Camp was inspiring. 

    Reagan

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