Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Why Behind It

One of the first assignments our new missionary staff are tasked with (even before they arrive at new staff orientation) is writing what our ministry refers to as a, “calling testimony.” I asked over a dozen new staff to share with me a snapshot of their calling testimony. It is essential for our new staff to process and articulate their calling to full time ministry. Without the “why” the enemy will seek to derail, discourage, deter them when the “rough” times comes to finally throw in the towel- ultimately defeated by the enemy equaling one less full time laborer for the plentiful Harvest.

My life was radically changed by Jesus through Cru while in college. A couple of years later, I was presented a need from Athletes in Action and knew God was calling us to fill that need with our talents. The vision and mission of Athletes in Action (as well as Cru) was something I wanted to be a part of. Being a part of building spiritual movements everywhere through the platform of sport by winning, building, and sending is something I can't apply a monetary value. –Kyle Holmstrom (AIA HQ’s –Sports Complex)

I joined staff with AIA after seeing the power of sport connecting to the gospel while serving overseas. The ball breaks down barriers which otherwise would remain. What better way to use the opportunities it opens up than to share the gospel? A 'profitable job' is really in how you look at what that means. I'd say being a vessel of God to save the souls' of people is the most profitable a job can be. - Pittman Kutchers (AIA Campus in NC)

I joined staff with Cru because I felt the Lord calling me to be a spiritual resource that I did not have when I was a student athlete at the University of North Texas 25 years ago. The reason I want to be a part of Athletes in Action is to be the resource that I did not have. I would have given anything if someone had shown up at a team meeting and extended an invitation for Bible Study and discipleship. God was faithful to provide for me, but my life would have been so different had I had the opportunity to grow in my relationship with Him much earlier though a ministry like Athletes in Action. Many Godly people have poured into me and I wanted to now be able to encourage others with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We gave up a profitable job in the marketplace to go serve the Lord with Athletes in Action. The Lord was so faithful to provide the financial support that we needed and taught us so many valuable lessons during our journey of raising support. - Carmen McWhorter (AIA Campus in Texas)

I can't explain it! God did something in my heart. He brought me to a place where all the things that I thought were important and pursued were no longer important. He made me realized that only what I do for the Kingdom of God would last. It certainly makes no sense in the natural at this point in my life, but the peace that He's given me in this transition and for the future is unexplainable. As I key this I think of the scripture in Matthew 6 about seeking first Him kingdom - I know 4that He has me and all I want to do is be in the center of His will. –Mel/Cherie Jones (AIA Campus in Minnesota)

People are living life apart from the gospel. Because of your faithful prayers and partnership we have the privilege of mobilizing and equipping laborers to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ so there is a Christ follower on every team, in every sport, in every nation.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us, so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations” (Psalm 67:1-2).

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14).

For prayer requests and a photo of our most recent family photo (including a new foster son) please comment on this post and we will email you a copy.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Football & Faith or God & Beloved Game

Volume 12 Issue 2
Football & Faith or God & Beloved Game

Sitting on the couch that Sunday just the kids and I (flu struck our house), with the TV turned on and
tuned into the Super Bowl, I marveled. Football has a following especially on Super Bowl Sunday. An occasion for people to gather; feasting on salty and sweet snacks while cheering on their
favored Super Bowl team.

Sport brings people together but also divides; “My team is better than your team.” or “My sport is more important than your sport.” Athletics is entertainment and for some even a profession. Yet, perhaps few use their platform for Christ to be proclaimed or worshiped.

This year Christ was lifted up through this great game of football, by the winning team, the Philadelphia Eagles. They see beyond the field (here and now) even post pro-sport career to the eternal! Winning and losing, the ultimate gain is eternal, not just another trophy or rare timely piece of jewelry. At the Super Bowl LII, Philadelphia Eagles players talked openly about their faith in Christ. How AWESOME to see Gospel activity in the NFL!

Athletes In Action hosted the 31st Annual Super Bowl Breakfast (see photo to left), a sanctioned NFL event, was a sold out (1,600 in attendance) event Sat. February 3rd. The Gospel message is shared at every one of them for the past 30 years.

The 2018 Bart Starr Award recipient is Benjamin Watson (Baltimore Raves- tight end). Photo on the right shows Tony Dungey with Watson after presenting him with the prestigious award. This is awarded to an “NFL player who exemplified outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.”

Praise & Prayer:

  • PRAISE– Leslie & Mike had a refreshing time with 100 other Cru Ministry Partnership Development (MPD) coaches last week at the coaches forum.
  • PRAY– preparations for our upcoming ALL AIA biennial conference– how we will manage kids and our roles.
  • PRAY– wisdom & discernment in coaching 14 AIA new staff (between Leslie and Mike).

DID YOU KNOW? There are 2 honors that ALL NFL players vote for (Pro Bowl & Bart Starr).

Learn more about AIA's Super Bowl Breakfast at:

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Spiritual Movements

We dream of a day when there is a Christ follower on every team, in every sport, in every nation. That is our vision at AIA.  We are building spiritual movements on college campuses, in professional sports, sports teams competing overseas, digital strategies, and our sports complex so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.

Here is one such story of spiritual movements happening with one of our new staff couples now serving at UC Davis in California.  Leslie coached them over the last 5 months prior to reporting to their assignment.

For the last 5 weeks, I [Rachel] have been meeting regularly with two girls on the basketball team. We have been walking through the foundations of following Christ and what that means for their lives. In the beginning of our time, both girls were excited to be there, but were fairly reserved during our conversations.  However, as the weeks have passed, a great deal of trust has developed in our relationships, and they have become much more comfortable asking me questions and discussing different topics.  I have so enjoyed getting to know these girls on a deeper level and witnessing them begin to take hold of the power and truth of God’s word in their life!  Through our time together, God has used our studies to not only impact their lives, but mine as well.  For example, when going through the passage of Ephesians 2:8-9 with them, I was reminded that I have been saved by grace through God’s free love, and not through anything that I can earn. While this is something I have understood for some time, I am constantly in need of this reminder in the midst of our performance driven culture. As I prepare to teach these girls each week, I am thankful that God uses these studies to further cement in me the foundations of my faith built on Christ alone.

ALSO on the campus of UC Davis:

The Causeway Classic football game took place two weeks ago [in November], pitting rivals Sacramento State and UC Davis together for an intense and thrilling matchup. Leading up to the game, our staff encouraged a number of players to use this as a platform to come together as brothers in Christ.  For the players on the field, it is easy to get caught up in the hype and disdain that both teams have for one another.  However, as the dust settled following the game, in the midst of cheers and tears from both sides, a number of men from both teams came together to give honor, glory and praise to the King. (see photo to right)

Thank you Andrew and Rachel for sharing how God is at work through the AIA ministry with various athletic teams UC Davis college campus!

Prayer Requests:

  • Opportunities to emphasize ministry partnership development as a ministry priority.
  • Protection and travel safety as next month Leslie and Mike travel to a coaches conference and leaving the boys at home.
  • God would move mountains to secure and graciously provide for us a get-away as a couple to be refreshed and strengthen/focus on our marriage.


  • Seeing spiritual growth in the women Leslie is coaching.
  • His sustaining strength amidst  crazy, busy, full schedules.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Death Next Door

Volume 11, Issue 5
Death Next Door
Tuesday shortly before noon, turning left onto Bickett Road ahead on my left was a 2NEWs truck.  “Hmm what could be news worthy here on this side of the road and out here.” I pondered to myself driving on the two lane road in-between two college campuses.  Hours later, my husband inquired, “Did you see the news about Wilberforce?”   Instantly I made the connection as to what caught my eye on the country drive earlier that day/ on my way home from a midweek meeting at our church in Cedarville.   Less than ten hours prior in the wee morning hours (typical for some college students) a sedan (Toyota Corolla) car with four passengers lost control that became a deadly crash for one of the women and the three other passengers presently in ICU.  The student who’s picture and flowers sit at the foot of the tree was a sophomore and a part of the choir and dance team on her college campus.

AIA has a ministry presence at Wilberforce and Central State University.   (Three exits on 35 from our house in Xenia also one exit from AIA’s Head Quarters.) That morning of the accident one AIA staff was contacted and her presence was requested.  The death of this young woman unveiled opportunity for spiritual conversations.
I (Lisa) work on campus as the women’s basketball team chaplain.  Students were wondering why God would take someone so young.  I was talking to the coach and he said that students were needing people to talk to and I knew that one of AIA’s staff was a part of a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) program that helps athletes and athletic programs walk through unexpected deaths within athletic departments.  I talked with our AIA staff and he got the ball rolling with his team to come and talk with the students.  On Sept. 28th the women’s basketball, dance, and cheerleaders all met with the CISM group.  This meeting allowed the girls to ask questions “Did she go to heaven?  What happens after you die?  Why would God let this happen?...” The girls also told how they were feeling in the process. It was an amazingly hard hour and a half, yet it was so good to see the girls remember their friend in this way.  The women’s basketball team have been involved with AIA through Bible studies the last 6 years.  This tragedy has opened the doors for Bible studies with the cheer and dance teams as well.  On Oct. 3rd, the men’s basketball team also asked for the same CISM team to come and debrief with them as well.  I was amazed at how open these young men were and how they trusted these men, and me, that they didn’t know that well in a time when they were unsure and hurting.  The doors are truly open for the Lord to come in and fill a void!

 I (Leslie) recently had the privilege of sharing at a family memorial and these words are fitting here as well.  Death is a bookend reality of life on earth.  Psalm 39: 4-5 Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.  Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.

{To see our previous month's newsletter, please see it at this link}


Sunday, June 25, 2017

On Mission with God

Volume 11 Issue 2
On Mission with God

“Someone has prayed for you.  Athletes in Action has prayed for you….” spoken by Mark Householder (President of AIA) at the commissioning of recent college graduates passionate about Jesus and on mission from God to serve a 1 year internship with AIA.  A privilege it is to continue to equip, train and mobilize new laborers. These interns will reach out to/minister to people who are broken, spiritually harassed, helpless and in need of as Shepherd.  …we have something to offer them that the World and their sport can’t.

This spring our LDHR services team hosted two of these Intern trainings (April 21st-23rd  & June 9-11).  This was a first for us to offer two trainings so we get include athletes competing in spring sports that couldn't come to our April date.

10 of those are new laborers that  have bravely accepted the call to ministry in other countries (Puerto Rico, Czech Republic, East Asia).  New this year Mike and I team taught all the Ministry Partner Development (MPD) material and had a BLAST.  Let’s just say Mike was on “fire” and even staff serving at the training came up to me and said, “We’ve never seen this side of Mike!”  A highlight for me was being asked to give the devotional again this year. 

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Thank you for the part you play in our ministry and in sending these 51 new missionary laborers.  Also, Let us thank the Lord for answered prayers for more laborers!  We pray for these workers as they prepare to take the message of the Gospel….to college campuses, sports teams and countries.

Karyn, now coaching interns, Leslie was her MPD coached last fall.
April Interns  trained  (above)
June Interns trained (below)

Mike Teaching  MPD principles
Commissioning of  Interns

Friday, March 24, 2017

AIA Internationally

Volume 11, Issue 1
Hablo Espanola? Atletas en AccĂ­on

Yes, I have a little familiarity (some words I know the meaning of) in speaking Spanish however I am not fluent!  Have you ever studied a foreign language in school or as an adult?
Imagine for a moment, being in a country where a language is spoken that you have no experience speaking, much less you have the life-saving message of the Gospel and your mission is to tell others by using the platform of sport.  We know “sport” is a universal “language” around the globe.  There is an ability is to “get” the challenges, pressures, and mindset in “sport” regardless of a language barrier or where you are from.  While our short term international (STINT) missionaries are not required to know the language before they go, they are required to take language classes or get tutoring once on the field. 
Last year we had an eight person team STINT in Puerto Rico.  Presently AIA doesn’t have any STINTers in Puerto Rico. However for next year, we have a married couple from MN that will be the team leaders. We currently have more applicants than we can send for this 8 person team (two leaders and six participants). 
Overseas on the field right now we have Bethany and Landon in Central Asia, and Nicole in the Middle East. The STINTers in Central Asia are reaching an unreached people group. They have seen around 8 people accept Christ just this year, which is incredible for this Muslim culture.
AIA has 3 priority countries that we are trying to raise up STINT teams.  We have begun to investigate 5 additional countries for future teams.
Praise & Prayer:
  • Praise for the 100+  applicants in process (Interns, STINTers, staff) with AIA.
  • Prayer for  implementation of new ministry tool in MPD coaching as well as All Cru Staff that Leslie will be training others.
  • Prayer for wisdom and capacity as Mike is overseeing implementation of two major ministry programs.
  • Praise for ministry partners and prayers said on our behalf.  Thankful for community and the body of Christ.
  • Prayer for peace as we face important appointments for our kids in April.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Greeting 2016

As this Advent season approached, the Lord etched the word “wait” on my mind and heart. Think of all the things we have to “wait” for. Perhaps you find yourself in a season of waiting as well right this very moment. (a cure for disease or cancer, marriage proposal from the love of your life, a job offer, reconciliation of a relationship, a season of darkness to lift, a loved one to come back to Jesus, a pregnancy test turn positive, being chosen as the prospective adoptive parents, or return of loved one from an extended time away.)

Did you know Advent in essence is a season of “wait”, marking the coming of the New Born King, the fulfillment of God’s promises, Messiah? In Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s Reflections on Advent and Christmas titled God in the Manger he shares, Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting-that is, of hopefully doing without-will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment…For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait. It happens not here in a storm but according to the divine laws of sprouting, growing and becoming.

So, I’m pondering waiting differently. It is an opportunity to remind us of God’s story (brokenness, redemption, hope, true joy) being written on the tablet of our lives. What sets me on the plain of peace again amidst waiting is not the answer but the WHO in my wait. Just like in the awaiting of Jesus, God in human form. The Psalmist captured this heart-cry, “For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (62:5-8 also see Ps. 37:7;27:14).

…The waiting reminds us that this is God’s story, His plan, and His promises. He is in control, and He will take this story wherever He pleases. And it reminds us, slaps us in the face at times, that we’re not the center of the story. It’s not about us, and things don’t always (or often!) go the way we’d like. Finally, all the waiting helps us think differently about both the present and the future: valuing the present as a gift, cherishing the future as our ultimate hope.
Used with permission (Cortez, Marc “Forced to wait: An Advent Reflection.” Web blog post. Transformed. Western Seminary.17 December 2012)

May this advent season cause you to see waiting in a new light.

With love,
The Rebholz Family
Mike, Leslie, Benjamin, & Baby M

Because of foster care privacy, we are unable to share Baby M's face electronically. If you would like a physical picture, please let us know by email and we will be glad to send you a copy of our family photo.