There is little to compare to the crushing weight of peer pressure facing the school kids of today. With society dictating what is acceptable and what is ‘politically incorrect’, it can become a painful process to hold fast to one’s values…especially if those values are centered around a Christian faith.
In Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan though, there are many student athletes that not only step forward to excel in athletic competition and in the classroom, they boldly display their faith in all aspects of their daily life. These young men and women are fearless in swimming against what is rapidly becoming a fierce societal current, and on the evening of April 19, almost 100 of them were recognized at the 2015 Buckeye Border Fellowship of Christian Athletes Champions Dinner at the Archbold Evangelical Church.
After a welcome by Area FCA Director, Rex Stump, the hundreds in attendance lined up to partake of a fabulous fare, presented again by Brookview Farms. After the meal, the entertainment for the evening was provided by the kids themselves, as they participated in ‘Minute to Win it’ competitions on the stage. Emceed by Josh Erd, these competitions that appeared to be easy at the outset, but proved to be quite the challenge as student athletes had sixty seconds to complete objectives in games like ‘Field Goal’, ‘Flip Your Lid’, ‘Hoop de Loop’, and ‘Face the Cookie’.
Mr. Stump returned to the podium to talk about the theme of the evening…All In. He recognized the volunteers and the home team members, noting that every one was ‘All In’. He recognized the Area Representatives in the same way, especially pointing out the newest member of the team, 2009 Pettisville graduate and Lady Blackbird standout, Alexa Short. Mr. Stump thanked the coaches, again saying that they too were, ‘All In.’ He then recalled a hilarious story of his volleyball coaching days, and an overnight trip with his team to St. Mary’s. One disaster after another beset Coach Stump, which he turned around and said that nobody ever told him that this was part of the job. He then tied it all together, saying, “We love ministering to coaches, because they need ministering to. It’s a tough world for a coach. We like being there for them, and saying, ‘We’re here for you; what can we do?'”
After graduating from Pettisville, Alexa Short went on to Eastern Mennonite, where she graduated in 2014. She is an FCA Area Representative, and also oversees FCA Women’s Ministries. “I dreamt that I would change the world,” she said upon arriving at the podium. “I’d travel to far off lands, exploring uncharted territories and meeting people that I never knew existed. Before I could decide where I wanted to go, I found myself back in Northwest Ohio…not an unknown land, but back in the place I knew best. I thought to myself that there was no way that I could change the world from here. However, sometimes we fail to recognize how the world might change us.” As she went forward, she showed that in returning to her roots and working with the student athletes in the FCA, she is indeed being used by Christ to change the world…one student athlete at a time, right here in Northwest Ohio.
As the time came to recognize those student athletes, Mr. Stump noted that the nearly 100 kids that were about to be called up came from over 50 FCA affiliated schools, and over 90 affiliated teams. These kids were nominated by their coaches to receive the recognition. They went above and beyond the call to help their teams by helping their coaches and helping their teammates. In the face of threats from the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, these student athletes chose to be leaders in not just their teams, but in their schools. They can be seen leading postgame prayers with the members of the opposing team. Their words and actions, as well as others in the FCA, are an open proclamation of a Christian faith that, in many school districts across the country, is deemed inappropriate, and sometimes even considered offensive ‘hate speech’.
To recognize these exceptional young men and women is not just the right thing to do on a special night such as this, it is a microcosm of what is happening elsewhere, where human eyes cannot follow, and where human ears cannot hear. As Christ Himself said in Matthew 10:32, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” To make that confession, one must be ‘All In’…and these kids are the epitome of the axiom.
One way or another, legal rumblings or not, these kids – every last one of them – ARE being recognized. Despite the organizations that make claims to the contrary, that cannot be, and is not a bad thing.
Timothy Kays can be reached at