By: Hans Gochenaur

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." -Matthew 10:16 (NIV)

In 2004, I accepted a position to become the girls' cross country coach at my local public high school.  With an evangelistic heart, I prayed that God would make this team a “family” and that He would be honored through it.  I never would have guessed He would turn it into an underground church. There are many Campus Life Directors who might coach only for some simple contacts or maybe just because we love the sport, but if we are true to our calling it must be for more than that. As I was blessed with that opportunity to take over a small girls’ team of 12 with 6 seniors (which now is a co-ed program which includes middle school and in some years is more than 80), I prayed God would use this team as a platform to do great things for His Kingdom.  I believed if I was shrewd in how I did things, and God chose to move, greater impact could be had than merely getting to know some people. 

  • I began investing into a young woman named Beth, met her boyfriend, and eventually prayed with Brandon to receive Christ, and even later performed their marriage. They are supporters of my ministry to this day.
  • I named a fiery young Christian gal named Tara a captain and sold the vision to her to help me.  Tara and I talked about building the success of this program both through character and performance, but also how we would strategically interweave our faith when we could into these girl’s lives.  This would be a tight rope we would need to walk so we strategized often and prayed continuously.  The first evangelistic “domino to fall” among the girls was a sophomore named Ali.  Countless hours of casting a vision to what Tara and I had dreamed of creating and eventually Ali bought in. 
  • As a captain, Ali helped me lead Jenna to the Lord, but at the same time developed the Christian influence and leadership of Jordyn.  Jordyn helped invite two girls younger than her to Campus Life and through a year of building relationships and planting seeds, the evening we had prayed for finally happened when Natalie and Amanda received Christ.  Those two girls were handed the “spiritual torch of evangelism and discipleship” in the program. 
  • “Amanda, I’m going to teach you how to build a relationship from scratch with someone with the intent to see them won to Christ.  Go get Emma.”  Amanda said, “I have nothing in common with Emma!” But I taught her relational evangelism, she built that relationship, and Emma found that relationship with Jesus and is growing profoundly to this day. 
  • Amanda’s effort in Emma was followed with discipleship from Natalie as Natalie and Emma went as volunteers to YFCamp this past summer with Natalie sharing her testimony to the camp for the first time. Amanda, Natalie, and Emma, taught and led Anna spiritually and now she wants to go into ministry. 

Through all of their efforts along the way, Calli, L.A., Emily, Maria, Katie, MacKenzie, two coaches, and several entire FAMILIES have been impacted with the Gospel; and that’s just from what has been made obvious  to us.  And more are coming to help carry the “spiritual torch.”

In the past I’ve been criticized for the amount of time I invest in my “coaching.”  But I believe that coaching has become an underground missional church.  Which is to say it has become way more than merely “coaching.” No team Bible Studies, no preaching at practice, no Bible verses written on shoes, no Bible tracks handed out, or even invites to Campus Life during practice times….we’ve never had a single complaint from anyone in the community about what is “going on with the cross country team and Jesus.” Men and women…think, pray, strategize…shrewd as snakes…innocent as doves.  Find a way for the Gospel to be heard.

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