FCA brings athletes together

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Whether you have heard about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) in your lifetime, or not, you should know they are a ministry of, for the most part, athletes, striving to meet the spiritual needs of others.

The FCA exists nationally on elementary, junior high, high school and college campuses, with APU’s campus being no exception to taking on this powerful group.

The FCA, which began in 1954, is now stronger and more accomplished than ever, as it has become the largest Christian sports organization in the world. Since it began, the FCA has held the vision that coaches and athletes involved would use the medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus.

According to FCA’s official website, the mission of the FCA 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.

On APU’s campus, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group is made up of nearly 100 students. The FCA meets on Tuesday nights for about an hour in the Dome to facilitate fellowship, go through devotionals and work together in small groups.

“The point of our meetings is to bring athletes together, to share the gospel, meet others, and encourage each other in our different walks of faith,” senior applied exercise science major and co-leader of FCA Matt McHugh said.

The FCA is known for hosting APU’s annual spring semester youth outreach event “Night of Champions.”  This event, which began in 1984, has become one of the most effective and well-received components of APU FCA’s ministry.

The first time “Night of Champions” was hosted at APU, it was held as a simple, informal barbeque for about 100 local high school athletes, who did not attend any church, but were willing to attend a Christian event if it meant they could meet and listen to successful and popular athletes and role models.

The event has become increasingly popular with each passing year and has grown to an attendance of more than 3,000 teenagers per event. The most recent well-known athletes FCA has invited to speak at the event include Jordy Nelson, the wide-receiver for the Green Bay Packers, and Mark Muñoz, a fighter for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Campus pastor Coba Canales and track and fields assistant coach Bethany Nickless are advisors for the group, but mostly assist by advising the two co-leaders of APU’s FCA, McHugh and Jackie Landers.

McHugh has been involved in the FCA and passionate about the ministry since he was a junior in high school. This year he is in his second year of co-leadership for the group with junior such-and-such major Landers.

“We try to be intentional with relationships. We aren’t just a bunch of jocks. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a group that really cares about every single person who comes out,” McHugh said.