SIKESTON - Fellowship of Christian Athletes meets young people where they are in their spiritual journey.
It focuses on the person, not on traditions or denominational labels. And the changes that have been made in the lives of those who've joined the group since it started here five years ago are immeasurable, said Mike Moyers.
"There is a big need, I would say, for positive influences within the school system. There are a lot of things competing for the minds of our youth," said Moyers, who with his wife, Mary Ann, was instrumental in getting a group started in the Sikeston Public Schools System.
"Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a pretty straightforward ministry," he said. "What they want to do is reach out to every kid with God's story of salvation. But also they want to be a support group for the Christian kids who are already in the school, just saying hey, you're not alone in wanting to do the right thing."
He explained FCA was founded on the premise that coaches and athletes have a built-in platform with which people identify, although the organization is not limited to athletes.
FCA is in more than 250 schools throughout Missouri.
Currently the Sikeston FCA has about 250 members in Middle School, Junior High, Senior High and Fifth-Grade Center. The local FCA is the first in Missouri to have an FCA club, or huddle as they are called, in the fifth grade. Most huddles don't go below seventh grade.
"It's interesting that it was a student who initiated it in the fifth grade," Moyers said. "She approached a couple of teachers to be sponsors and wrote a letter to the principal. When they started out there were less than 10 kids in the organization there."Yet Kimberly Jennings takes no credit for any of it.
"I just thought we needed some Christian activities in the school," reasoned the 11-year-old. "But I really didn't do much of anything, Jesus did. It has turned out better than I thought it would but I'm not surprised because I knew it would happen if Jesus wanted it to happen."
Kimberly says she can tell FCA has changed the attitudes of some of the regular participants and would like to see more students involved. "Some people say 'oh cool, I'll try to come' and others say 'no, I don't think it's something I want to do.' It makes me sort of discouraged when they say no, but I know there will still be lots of people there." FCA in Middle School meets at 7:20 a.m. every Friday in Rick Oetting's room, Senior High's group is at 7:30 a.m. every Thursday in Kevin Self's room, students at Junior High meet at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays in Room 10 and the group at the Fifth-Grade Center meets at 7:45 a.m. on the first and third Tuesday at Southwest Elementary. "The neat thing is the kids are really young and it's going great," said Kathy Senter, huddle coach at the Fifth-Grade Center. "When we started it had never been done with this young of an age group before so it was all new territory. The children are so enthusiastic about it though, we had 70 at the last meeting and have given out over four cases of Bibles.
"It's an open club so anyone in the whole school system can come one time or every time, it's up to them," said Senter, who sponsors the group with fellow teachers Julie Bohannon, Jennifer Priday and Andrea Harper. "And it's a great opportunity to meet other boys and girls who they don't meet in their classrooms."Moyers said being involved in FCA teaches young people there's more to life than self-gain. "It's teaching them that life is better if it is God-centered than if it's self-centered, life's bigger than us, And really, if you want to get God's message out to people, they've got to see it in action."
Moyers stressed FCA doesn't touch on doctrinal issues, only the basics of the Bible. It is non-denominational and does not compete with local churches, rather it is designed to supplement them.
As an FCA captain at Junior High, Meredyth Moyers said she thinks FCA is a great idea. "It's fun and a great way for Christians and people who don't go to church to learn about Jesus. We need positive influence in school. There are teens on drugs and this gives them an alternative," said the 14-year-old. "It doesn't matter where you go to church or if you even go to church."
For more information on the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes leave a message for Moyers at Trinity Baptist Church, 471-9435.