Fellowship of Christian Athletes launches in Australia

“Australians need to hear the gospel and sport is one God-given and largely unused way of doing it,” says Jim Dayhew, the inaugural executive director of the recently launched FCA 360 Sports Australia ministry. “It is also a great place for growing disciples – thus, our motto: ‘Growing disciples in sport’.”

FCA 360 Sports Australia, the new local arm of the worldwide Fellowship of Christian Athletes organisation, launched with a commissioning service at Panania Anglican Church Sydney on Saturday 10 February. The event was attended by social and elite sportspeople, family members of sportspeople, ministers, people involved in sports ministry and interested supporters.

Gary Visitacion, who started up FCA in New Zealand 10 years ago, is enthusiastic about the Australian initiative “across the ditch”. “Knowing that the Aussies love sports, my hope is that FCA 360 Sports Australia can be an instrument for change within that world,” he said. “With Jim as its first full-time staff member, there is the opportunity for the ministry to have real focus.”

Jim Dayhew is prayed in

Jim Dayhew is prayed in as executive director of FCA 360 Sports Australia

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a global ministry that serves in 116 countries and is growing. Jim explains: “Our vision is to see the world transformed by Jesus through the influence of coaches and athletes. People need to come to faith, grow in their faith and become disciple-makers. There is a lot to do, but obviously, we need to prayerfully take one step at a time. Thankfully, there is a growing interest and involvement from Christians in this country, and we have the support and resources of the international organisation.”

While it is early days as yet, FCA 360 Sports Australia has already facilitated small group Bible study “huddles” for coaches, athletes and parents of athletes; organised one-to-one mentoring for emerging elite pathway young athletes; commissioned a series of Bible-based studies on Christianity and sport; and run professional development courses for teachers and coaches (in association with 3D Coaching). It hopes to significantly expand and resource the huddles, develop sports camps, and develop more and stronger partnerships with churches, schools and sports clubs.

Members of Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the launch of the Aussie branch

Members of Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the launch of the Aussie branch

The new ministry is well placed to supplement and work alongside the long-established ministry of Sports Chaplaincy Australia. Nett Hodges was on the board of Sports Chaplaincy Australia from 2008–14, has been chaplain to the Australian Track and Field Team since 1998 and has served as chaplain at five Olympic Games. She also forms part of the new FCA 360 Sports Australia Board.

“FCA is perfectly placed now, here in Australia, to support Christian athletes,” Nett says. “The organisation is all about equipping them to stand firm in their faith, grow in their faith, and be the best athlete that they can be. My hope is that God will be at the centre of this ministry and that FCA will walk alongside and serve Christian athletes and coaches from schools and local clubs right through to the international level.”

Outside of the FCA family are the encouraging words of James McFarlane, lead pastor of Hornsby Presbyterian Church: “I’m increasingly convinced of the need, validity and potential of this new gospel venture in Australia.”

If you are an athlete at any level, a coach or parent of an athlete and you want to find out more, you can check out the FCA 360 Sports Australia Facebook page, or contact Jim on [email protected] or (mobile) 0400 921 109.