Welcome To The Ministry of Sport…
Neal is a 1998 graduate of Penn State University where he was a member of the football squad and track team.
He now dedicates his time to helping student athletes realize God’s plan for their life.
Our American culture is obsessed with sports and idolizes athletes. Upwards of 90% of people watch, read, or participate in sports once a month – 76% do so every day. Athletes In Action (AIA) is a Christian ministry focused on reaching athletes for the Kingdom and equipping them to use their elevated platform to glorify God.
Since 1966, AIA has been forming small group Bible studies and fellowship opportunities for student athletes. These outreaches are designed to help mitigate the intense pressure exerted on them by their peers, society, and the inherent time crunch of taking classes while training for competitive sport.
Their vision is to have a believer on every team, in every sport, and in every nation (they’re already in 94 different countries). AIA staff members meet with athletes for evangelism, one-on-one discipleship, and guidance on sharing their faith with others.
Our strategy is simple; reach, teach, equip, and send student athletes. We want to take America’s insatiable appetite for sports and turn it into a gateway for the Kingdom. If we can reach those our society calls their heroes – what an exponential impact we can have on those who have never heard the Good News!
More on Athletes In Action, go to their website HERE
Seventeen years ago I was privileged to attend Penn State University at University Park. I was not only a student, but a two-sport varsity athlete training and competing with the Nittany Lion Track Team and Football Squad.
I realize now how truly unique those experiences were and how challenging the pressures were that I faced as a young adult. I remember struggling to manage my time between academics, athletics, social pursuits, and spiritual growth. I remember watching peers who didn’t handle it well and stumbled into bad habits, transferred, or just plain quit. I knew even then it could have been me; it’s miraculous to see how blessed I was to make it through in one piece! There is no way that I could have made the grades, received the playing time, and achieved that success without Him.
While at PSU I was involved in a student-athlete ministry called Athletes in Action (AIA). This was a non-denominational Christian group dedicated to meeting the spiritual needs of student athletes. The Biblical equipping and foundation they provided was essential to my mental and spiritual health.
Athletes have a tremendous platform in our culture. We give them our attention in a way that few other people in our world are granted. I’ve learned firsthand that this platform does not go away when the season is over. Those experiences opened many doors for me after college, but despite a successful career in a field I enjoy, He has been tugging on me and calling me to full-time ministry within AIA.
I’ve been volunteering in this capacity for over a year and it’s finally time to make like the Apostle Peter and “step out of the boat.” While I don’t completely understand His decision to use me over other Christians that seem more qualified or capable, through incremental obedience I am seeing that this is where He will use me.
As I work with these young people, I feel a connection with them in a way only a former student athlete can. I remember the pressures and see the same mix of joy and frustration on their faces as they grapple with living a life of faith in a success oriented environment. I believe that God has given me the ability to speak into their lives and effectively equip them to live for Him.
Our Ministry Partner For Financial Accountability
I believe that God has called me to serve student athletes in as direct a fashion as possible. That means that I need to outsource some of the ‘administrative’ functions of running a ministry. This allows me to focus on my calling, but it also provides financial accountability and consistency – for me and for my supporters!
We have recently partnered with World Outreach Ministries based in Marietta GA. WOM is an affiliation of interdenominational missionaries who need a dependable home office. It was established over 30 years ago and serves workers from all types of church backgrounds and involved in a variety of outreaches. They believe that God’s kingdom needs all kinds of workers; their heart is to serve full time workers on the “frontlines” and provide them with a dependable home office.
Athletes In Action (AIA) is a Christian ministry focused on reaching athletes for the Kingdom and equipping them to use their elevated platform to glorify God. Since 1966, AIA has been forming small group Bible studies and fellowship opportunities for student athletes.
“My current vision is to utilize my partnership at PSU University Park Campus for the benefit of the student athletes at the smaller college campuses in eastern PA. These campus groups will be synchronized with PSU University Park Campus through social media, various outreaches, and retreats. It is my hope to leverage the momentum of the larger campuses to draw along the athletes at the smaller campuses who deal with the same pressures, but have fewer opportunities for ministry.”