For the next four weeks, follow along with Megan Gustafson’s experience with Athletes in Action in the 2018 FISU Pan-American Games when we traveled to São Paolo, Brazil. She will share insight from the trip, explaining what took place and how she grew. We hope that her thoughts will be an encouragement to you, as well as cast vision for others as we approach the 2020 FISU Games in Mérida, Mexico. Get to know Megan more below…
All of my life I have been pretty quiet about sharing my faith in Jesus. I grew up in the countryside minding my own business and not wanting to bother anyone else about who or what I believed in. Looking back now, that was a mistake. Sure, finding my voice to tell others about God may sound scary, but I never knew how impactful my message could be to other people who desperately need a light to guide them amidst their own darkness. I wish I would have embraced this role earlier in my life, but I didn’t until about 1 year ago.
Athletes in Action
If you have never heard about Athletes in Action, I am so glad that I can tell you about it now. This organization is a Christian ministry for college student athletes across the nation. You can find most gatherings held in a University sports building on a weekly basis, where athletes from every sport come together to talk about Jesus and what it means to implement their faith into their respective sports. Up until the summer before my senior year in college, I had attended these meetings only once in a great while. Toward the end of my junior year, Coach Bluder approached me about going on a trip with AIA that upcoming summer. They were planning on partnering with the USA Team to compete in the FISU World Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It didn’t take me too long to decide to go, because I was familiar with Athletes in Action and my Iowa teammate, Hannah Stewart, was also going to be on the team. Originally I thought that this trip would be great for Hannah and I to get even more used to playing with each other on the court before our senior seasons started since we knew our offense would be geared toward having two post players on the floor. Boy, if I only knew then how life changing this trip would actually end up becoming!
Training Camp – Xenia, OH
The day that Hannah and I left for training camp was on July 14th, 2018. The night before our Iowa team had an inter-squad summer scrimmage, which was super fun because it was our last workout and first time displaying our championship team to our loyal fans. Our flight had a slight delay, so we were one of the last ones to arrive. This AIA trip was compiled of more than just our women’s basketball team – we also had a men’s basketball team, and men’s volleyball team, and women’s volleyball team. We all stayed and trained in Xenia, Ohio for about 5 days where the national headquarters of Athletes in Action was housed. Each day was full of activities, with most days starting with breakfast/morning gospel as a whole group and then prayer time with our teams. We also had several other sessions throughout the days where we would gather and listen to the testimonies of some of the coaches and staff members. We worked really hard in practices as we only had a few days to prepare for games, which meant most of our time was spent going over our offense sets and scrimmaging. Some of us would also get in other workouts such as lifting and extra shooting, so by the time each day ended we were all pretty tired! It was worth it though, because not only did I push myself physically, but I was able to grow in my faith and learn more about what it meant to use my basketball platform to Glorify God and help lead others to Him along the way. I would definitely say that my biggest takeaway from training camp would be to play for an Audience of One. At the end of the day, the only person who I should be playing for is God and He loves me no matter what! Toward the end of training camp, I got to share my testimony to my team since we had been learning how to write our own stories throughout camp. Let me tell you, I was a mess! I was a bit nervous to be honest – ask me to score 30 points in a basketball game, no problem. But ask me to talk about my personal life to a group of strangers? That is a WHOLE different ball game! Thankfully I had gotten to know my teammates and coaches over the past few days before this and they were all super supportive! Once I started sharing about how God impacted my life, I immediately started crying, and then of course cried some more because I also talked about Hannah and how she was such a wonderful spiritual leader to me and for our college team. You guys I am an emotional person as I have said many times before, and I honestly just have to laugh at myself, I have come to accept the fact that I am not very good at bottling up all those feelings!
Next week, Megan will share about our service project in Brazil and our partnership with Samaritan’s Feet. Stay tuned!
Written by: Megan Gustafson
3 Simple Joys:
- Peanut butter, also Starbucks!
- Writing, “but I do love to nap so maybe that one instead”
1 Favorite passage:
- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
- Bonus: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24