ko te manaaki i ngā kaihākinakina | caring for New Zealand's sports community
Photo of Mike Sanfratello, Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Visit from Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Staff from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes visited NZ in February, in order to meet sports ministry leaders, and discuss how they might serve here.


Who are Fellowship of Christian Athletes?

Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) began in the USA in 1954. Founder Don McClanen wrote, ‘If athletes can endorse shaving cream, razor blades and cigarettes, surely they can endorse the Lord, too.’

Advertisement for cigarettes featuring baseball player Harry Heilmann
Since then, FCA has grown to work in 62 countries. Their vision is to impact the world through the influence of coaches and athletes. Their work includes Bible studies, camps, coach training, as well as chaplaincy.

Mike Sanfratello (above), former defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers, served as a Sports Chaplain for 16 years, and is currently FCA Regional Vice President for the Rockies.

‘Ministry in the context of sport is powerful,’ he says. ‘I don’t believe sport builds character; I believe sport reveals character. Coaches are the ones who develop character. Our big strategy is: to and through the coach. Billy Graham once said, “A coach will influence more people in a year, than most people will in a lifetime.”‘


New Zealand visit

Along with Sanfratello were Aaron Frude, Campus Director and Sports Chaplain at the University of Wyoming, and also Gary Visitacion, National Director for the Philippines. Visitacion has three adult children living in New Zealand and he is considering moving here himself. He is keen to work together with Sports Chaplaincy NZ, with a particular interest in our Asian sports community.

But Sanfratello insists that FCA is not ‘coming’ to New Zealand.

He explains, ‘We want to see how we can serve, to find out what’s already happening in sports ministry. We want to see if we can help with resources and training. It doesn’t need to have our name on it. We have recently developed a partnership with Sports Chaplaincy Australia, and we understand that Sports Chaplaincy looks different in this part of the world to what it does in the United States.’

Author Info

Rebecca Hawkins

Rebecca is the Communications and IT Manager for Sports Chaplaincy NZ. In her younger days she played cricket and football with great enthusiasm but very little skill. Now she spends a lot of time supporting her four sons in their sport. She especially loves scoring their cricket matches, which she insists on doing the old fashioned way, with pen and paper.

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