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.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Stepping Up - A New Chapter

Volume 10 Issue 5
Stepping Up - A New Chapter

Transition has been the norm for us in ministry these last 10 years.  No surprise God would move in ways we never expected!  Can you relate?  (Email us as we’d love to hear how God has done so in your life!)   Mike along with another HR associate have recently stepped up to take the interim role of LDHR Director of AIA.  (overseeing the care of 600+ AIA staff)  While the search process for a new team director continues, Mike and Michael are both sharing the load in addition to their normal jobs on the team.  Mike’s days are filled with meetings helping the team to keep moving forward.  This varies from dealing with growth conversations, health crises, hiring decisions, staff trainings, and the like.

Our former executive director of LDHR pulled me (Leslie) into his office for a random meeting one of the hot Ohio summer days.  He asked  me to take the role of Ministry Partner Development (MPD) Coordinator for all of AIA, I was astounded and humbled!  My initial response/reaction was “um no…How can I do that job AND still be fully engaged with my children/mom to my children?”  After much prayer and conviction by the Holy Spirit, by faith I said yes to this new leadership role.  The Lord showed me that if I didn’t take this role I would be disobedient to Him. Surely, a desperate area to rely on the Holy Spirit and not my own strength.  This opportunity means added work (I enjoy most of the time) but also a means to grow (spiritually, leadership-wise…) while playing an integral part in laborer’s lives and impacting the plentiful harvest…(see Matt 9:27-28)

What does this mean?  I have the privilege of overseeing 5 AIA MPD coaches (Mike, myself and 3 others) and 30+new AIA staff raising their initial support.   Already I have begun coaching new staff in groups because of the few MPD coaches AIA has.  Last Friday 11:30am I hung up the phone from a 90 minute conference call with 6 new staff.   I marveled in my head, “Lord, thank you I LOVE my job!”  We had a lively but heavy-hearted discussion about this quote by Philip Yancey: “Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes:  Why God doesn’t act the way we want God to and why I don’t act the way God wants me to.  Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.”  We unpacked how this has implications for them presently not to mention envisioning ways this plays out in ministry.

What a privilege we have to build up, mobilize, equip, care for and minister to AIA staff as they go out to their mission field through the platform of sport (college campus, pros, sports teams, international teams, and digital communication )  Frequently I share this verse with new staff I’m coaching “no eye has seen no ear has heard the things He has planned for them….”  (1 Cor 2:9).  Moving to Ohio and serving with AIA has been a step faith and transition.  Never did we imagine our scope of influence and touching so many lives so that the Gospel can go forth!  THANK you for joining in this incredible, daunting, humbling mission.  We are grateful for your financial support and prayers.
YES!  We LOVE OUR JOBS!  (granted they aren’t easy and can’t do it through our own strength.)
 Praise & Prayer:
  • Praise: God continues to be our sustaining power and strength.
  • Pray for Wisdom and discernment for Mike as he oversees many critical decisions in his new role.
  • Pray for the ability to create margin in our present reality.
  • Praise for the many opportunities we’ve had in our new roles and being foster parents to give testimony about Jesus ,what He’s done and how He’s changed our lives.[Baby M had to be cut out of this picture due to foster care policy.]

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Summer Lineup

Summer is here! The Rebholz family has stayed put this summer (no moving and no travel trips). We are jumping right into athletic world by working alongside athletes. Mike worked with the high school Ultimate Training Camp at AIA HQ.

Leslie discipled 3 college interns for the summer who were here as a part of a larger group serving at AIA HQ’s (see photo to right). Recently, we hosted all the summer interns for a Monday night meal. What a neat opportunity to get to know them (see photo bottom rt.). We will also continue to equip and inspire laborers to be Christ-centered, fully-funded, and financially faithful as we coach and mobilize a 20+ laborers between the two of us.

Scope of the AIA Summer happenings:
Many athletes ponder this question “Can I be competitive, all the while being a person who has surrendered their life to having Christ on the throne?” AIA Ultimate Training Camp (UTC) seeks to answer that question. The heart and goal of the camp is to help current competing athletes give their lives and talents back to God and in turn, find freedom. Freedom from placing their identity and overall value in their sport. We see it in the world we live in, athletes in the media are idolized and put on a pedestal. Yet, sometimes, as glamorous as their life may seem, they sometimes may be spiritually broken. It’s because they succumb to the pressures of the world, demands of their sport, coaches and university. All taking the place of God.

The Spring and early summer was a flurry in our ministry for Mike and I. Praise the Lord we came out still breathing and praising the Lord– we are blessed and life is FULL! AIA celebrated its 50th Anniversary as over 400 of our AIA staff family were present for our biennial AIA staff Conference called Springboard. (see photo at left) Thankfully, Xenia is AIA’s Headquarters so we didn’t have to travel but down the road. Mike ran the tech for the conference. Leslie took over 1,000 photos of the commemorative event (not a professional by any means just a hobby). Amazingly, all 4 AIA president’s past and present were there. What a tremendous opportunity to hear stories of God’s mighty hand blessing and using this ministry to sports and athletes in the world!

NEW AND UPDATED: The official AIA ministry website is now at in NOW the evangelistic website, “The Assist”. The articles are sports centered yet Biblical as they tackle current and controversial topics in the sporting realm and news media. 

Monday, May 09, 2016

Ready, Set, Spike

Volume 10, Issue 3
Ready, Set, Spike

Amber and Leif stepped out in faith as they moved to a town of 25,000 people in Ohio this past December. They are a young married couple in their 20’s born in the south and raised Texans. This past summer they went through Cru’s new staff training to join with Athletes in Action.

Amber playing competetive volleyball
Amber is 6 ft tall and the build of a volleyball setter. Having played her sport in college, she understands the challenges first hand athletes face. Immediately, upon moving to Xenia, OH she found an adult volleyball “club” league and joined. Having now been playing in weekend tournaments with other women in their 20-40s she’s developed new friendships.

Once such friendship is with a gal, Emma (name has been changed). Amber met Emma as she was a sub that weekend for another girl on her Club volleyball team. From the start they hit it off not to mention a love for the game of volleyball. On several occasions Amber and Emma have met together over meals.

During a recent weekly development time with Amber, she and Leslie were discussing evangelism. This struck a chord with Amber as we dialogued about being intentional in learning people’s story, since Emma’s been weighing on Amber’s heart. Emma attended a Christian university and even grew up in a Christian home. However, over the years her heart has hardened to the “church” (the formal gathering of believers) and perhaps other Christians. She attributes this to “legalistic people” and bad experiences. At this time in her life she’s not “walking with Jesus.” Emma knows truth in her mind but it’s thousands of miles from her heart -- her emotions and will to surrender to the Lord.

“We must learn to find the backdoor to people’s hearts because the front door is heavily guarded.” Says Author Ravi Zacharias about today’s evangelism. To Amber the back door to Emma is through her beloved sport, volleyball. Their friendship began through the platform of sport. Since their initial meetings just 3 months ago Amber has been able to ask Emma open-ended questions that tap into her life, the deep stuff, hurt, struggles, and marriage. Their conversations aren’t a monolog rather a dialogue that illustrates care, heart, friendship and bows the knee saying “I’m listening, tell me your story, I’m may not have all the answers but…”

I love seeing how the Lord is leading our new staff step to out in faith and engage in spiritual conversations. It is a privilege to mobilize and help train our new staff so that they are better equipped to start such transforming conversations.

Mike coached them as they raised their initial support in Texas. Leslie is presently coaching Amber through new staff development training. (all 1st year staff going through this training cycle.)

Prayer Requests:
  • Pray for Emma; that her heart would be softened.  Through the friendship with Amber and ongoing heart conversations that she would experience a freshness to God’s love.
  • Pray the Lord would strengthen and provide good sleep as this month is crazy busy. (Mission’s conference, both Mike and Leslie work back to back conferences, foster son’s case plan meeting, Leslie’s b-day, Leslie’s in an out of town wedding, perseverance with Benjamin’s treatment plan for a medical issue, ministry projects deadlines.)
  • Praise:  Life is FULL and we are blessed!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Super Bowl

Volume 10, Issue 1
On the Saturday morning prior to the Super Bowl #50, Athletes in Action hosted the Super Bowl Breakfast.  There the presentation of the Bart Starr award was awarded to this year’s recipient, Carolina Panthers' linebacker Thomas Davis.  The Bart Starr Award is given annually to a player in the NFL who exemplifies outstanding character and leadership at home, on the field and in the community.

Among the 10 nominees, Davis was voted in as the award's 29th recipient by his peers, including NFL opponents and teammates.

Davis played in the Super Bowl with a broken arm (and was credited with seven tackles) that was sustained in the NFC championship game two weeks prior. He has overcome three knee surgeries on the same knee in his 10-year NFL career.

Surely this man of character can and will overcome a Super Bowl loss because Christ is his leader.

Davis recalled during his acceptance speech a time about four or 5 years ago, sitting in Jerry Richardson’s office (the owner of the Panthers), after a third ACL tear to the right knee.  Mr. Richardson had to make a decision about whether to allow him to continue on in his NFL career. Davis believes there is a good reason that he has been given the opportunity to continue to play. He stated “When I think of the last four years since that meeting, how good the Lord has been to me.  It makes me emotional.”

He went on to state “As an NFL player, we have a platform.  It is important to be a good example for our children.  I set an example for my boys of how to be a man. We have been blessed to take the stage before millions.  it is important for us to use that the right way.”

Some of the previous Bart Star Award winners have been: Peyton Manning - Denver Broncos, Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers, Jason Witten - Dallas Cowboys, London Fletcher - Washington Redskins, Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints, Kurt Warner - Arizona Cardinals, Warrick Dunn -Tampa Bay Buccaneers, LaDainian Tomlinson - San Diego Chargers, John Lynch - Denver Broncos, Curtis Martin -New York Jets, Troy Vincent - Buffalo Bills, Derrick Brooks -Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Trent Dilfer -Seattle Seahawks, Darren Woodson -Dallas Cowboys, Bruce Matthews - Tennessee Titans, Aeneas Williams -Arizona Cardinals, Irving Fryar - Philadelphia Eagles, Brent Jones - San Francisco 49ers, Darrell Green -Washington Redskins, Jackie Slater - St. Louis Rams, Cris Carter - Minnesota Vikings, Warren Moon - Houston/Seattle, Gill Byrd - San Diego Chargers, Reggie White - Green Bay Packers, Mike Singletary - Chicago Bears, Anthony Munoz - Cincinnati Bengal's, Steve Largent -Seattle Seahawks

Thank you for your faithful prayers and your partnership making it possible to spread the Gospel of Jesus through the unspoken language of Sport.

Sport continues to be one of the unspoken languages in the world today through which the gospel can speak the clearest and loudest.
-AIA president Mark Householder
Prayer requests & Praises

  • Praise several of the new staff Mike has been coaching on their initial support development have reported to their assignments with AIA. 
  • Prayer for wisdom for Leslie as she begins to coach Amber through the new staff first year curriculum a newly reported staff member to the AIA “teams” 
  • Prayer for Mike as his plate is FULL of ministry responsibilities (coaching new staff, leading team meetings, meeting with staff one on one, preparing for upcoming conferences and events…). Discernment in how to utilize his time/schedule well. The ability to protect his “time with the Lord” and family commitments. 
  • Prayer for patience and perseverance as we begin an invasive/intense treatment plan for our son’s gastrointestinal issues.

Personal Note Mid January we received a call for our first foster placement. What a transition it has been. One of great JOY and sleeplessness/ depravation. We are unable to share a picture of baby “m” with you. We do not know how long exactly he will be with us or if we will become his forever home. We are over the moon blessed with this addition to our family. If you would like to know our journey to this we’d be happy to share it with you.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Year End Greeting...

Waiting.  Approaching this month known to most of the world as Christmas, there is great expectancy (gifts, family gatherings, festivities, lights and glitz).  For months, even days we anticipate this favored traditional holiday – Christmas. 
I’ve been pondering the word “Advent” lately.  Advent is a Latin word that means “coming”.  Reminiscing on the first coming of Christ as a baby, while also preparing for the Christ’s second coming when He is “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5).  This holiday season we fight materialism and busyness amidst the stress, yet long to have a peaceful, quiet heart.  Advent is an opportunity to day by day prepare our heart and lives for the coming Savior.  Here are a few thoughts to ponder on the powerful meaning of Christmas and “waiting”.
The plan of salvation did not start with the birth of a tiny baby in the lowliest of places.  The preincarnate Christ was present before the beginning.  The history of the Old Testament sets the stage for this babe born at Christmas who would perform the work of salvation for us on the Cross. -Dean Lambert. Preface of The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for children and adults to prepare for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas.
The Advent Season is a Season of Waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth…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. -Dietrich BonhoefferGod is in the Manger:  Reflections of Advent and Christmas.

 Below is a copy of our ministry prayer card.  Free to download and print a copy to hang on your fridge, or please contact us if you would like a print mailed to you.  You can click this link to download a high resolution copy of the image.
 High Resolution Image