So how did a guy from rural Wisconsin and a girl from Amish Country Pennsylvania end up together and serving the Lord in sports ministry all over the world?
New Staff Days
Our lives came together at Athletes in Action’s world headquarters in Xenia, OH. Jayne had joined staff with AIA in 2005 and then Kyle in 2006 as they went through their initial ministry training together. While we worked on the same staff team at Wright State University and Wittenberg University, we had no idea how our partnership would grow from that point on! Towards the end of Jayne’s two years of ministry training, Kyle finally asked Jayne out on a date, we fell in love, and the rest is history. Our passions were aligned and our calling was clear. God was leading both of us to use our love for sports ministry to help reach the world for Christ! Now we get to partner in life and ministry together longterm. This has been such a privilege to be a part of and it’s what we love to do! God is so good!
A Season of Change
Our first ministry assignment was at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC. As newlyweds (we got married July 19, 2008), we had a lot to learn! The fall was “full” as we navigated our first several months of marriage, were figuring out living in a new state, a new campus, and learning new roles on our staff team. Next, we had the divine surprise that Team Wenig was adding another player! AJ was born into our family in August 2009 and and he’s been such a joy to have in our lives.
While we primarily worked at UNC, we also got to help lead in ministry at nearby Duke University too... carefully balancing the fierce rivalry of the Tar Heels and Blue Devils. So what does the work of sports ministry look like? Basically, we aim to meet athletes, coaches, and other sports administration where they’re at spiritually and if they’re interested, we provide them the opportunity to take steps closer to Jesus. Whether a football player may be exploring matters of faith for the first time ever or if a soccer coach wants to keep growing in their relationship with God, we want to be available to serve them and help them grow spiritually. Much of our ministry is made up of leading Bible studies, pre-game chapels, one-on-one discipleship (faith mentoring), evangelism, and small groups. Each summer, we also have the opportunity to lead other athletes as we send them around the world to use their platform through sports sharing the ultimate message: Life’s greatest victory
is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ!
We loved serving in sports ministry in North Carolina. We saw God do amazing things and we even got the sweet privilege of seeing lives changed by Christ! Jayne had the opportunity to lead a great group of women further in their faith and they are now having a great impact on those around them! Several of those athletes are now serving God in full time ministry today! Kyle’s role was overseeing the Servant Athlete Leadership Team (SALT) and also having chaplaincy opportunities with the lacrosse, baseball, and football teams.
In the Winter of 2010, God moved in our hearts to keep using this platform of sport to reach the nations for Christ...He was leading us to take a Short Term International assignment (STINT)! This flipped our lives upside down! AIA has a presence in nearly 100 countries worldwide... so the big question was, where? We’ve always said” “Lord, our lives are Yours, direct our steps and we will follow!” Through MUCH prayer, lots of time spent investigating, and a variety of circumstances lining up, God lead us to move to Sydney, Australia! “The Land Down Under” wasn’t initially even on our radar, but as we got to hear more about the ripe opportunities for sports ministry, it became clear that this would be our next ministry assignment.
Our objective in going to Australia for 15 months was to help build momentum for our AIA movement in Sydney. We joined 3 other AIA staffers and got to work in a wide variety of areas. Jayne did a lot of in-home ministry by hosting local athletes for discipleship, bible study, and some yummy home-cooked meals. She also partnered with Kyle by helping launch a high school ministry for AIA in Sydney.
Kyle worked with a broad spectrum of athletes in Australia, ranging from high school, to university, to pro athletes. One of his favorite roles was getting to train a new AIA staff guy named Mike “Foxy” Foxall. It was such a pleasure to help equip and giving ministry training to a native Aussie to continue with AIA long after we’ve left now. This is the legacy that we want to keep aiming for: raising up local leaders to keep doing sports ministry for the glory of God.
Australia is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and while we certainly enjoyed living in a world-class city like Sydney, this experience living abroad also stretched us in huge ways too. Some of the biggest lessons we learned were: God is enough...He is all we truly need; Contentment and living simply (wants vs. needs); and a sacrificial friendship that Aussies call “mateship”. What a blessing it was to be able to serve with AIA internationally!
AIA Events and Seeking Next Steps
When we came home to the USA, we moved back to AIA’s headquarters in Xenia...yes, the place where it all began for us! We needed to get our feet back under us as we transitioned from Sydney and this was the perfect place to do this. Kyle worked in a short-term role in AIA’s Events department. Every year, AIA uses the platform of major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Weekend, and NCAA Final Four to honor Christian athletes that are doing it the Lord’s way and to give the thousands who attend these events a chance to hear the Gospel and say “yes” to Jesus!
Meanwhile, Kyle and Jayne also went through a AIA transition program to help debrief our time in Australia and seek God’s direction for our next steps in ministry. This was a very meaningful time of reflection, processing, and waiting on God to lead us. We were essentially going back to the drawing board...asking God questions like “what am I passionate about?”, “what are my strengths & weaknesses?”, “what are our core values?”, and ultimately this: “God, where do YOU want us?” Through this valuable time, we were very pleased to sense that God was moving us back into AIA’s Campus Ministry again!
MIZ - ZOU!
From 2013-2017, we served as campus staff at the University of Missouri. This was an incredible season of growth and we enjoyed partnering with another great organization, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It was awesome to see all that God did in helping launch a spiritual movement at Mizzou as we pressed forward towards one of AIA’s God-sized goals...to see a Christ follower on every team, in every sport, in every country of the world... so that everyone would know someone who truly follows Jesus. That’s what it’s all about... lives changed by Christ!
In the Spring of 2017, we began an exciting transition of ministry locations to the University of Wisconsin.
We are thrilled to be a part of a great staff team with a powerful vision…“Reach the CAMPUS…change the CULTURE…transform the CITY.” Being part of making this a reality is a huge blessing. The opportunity to maximize our passions, experiences, and training during our time as AIA staff is awesome.
Kyle’s primary role is ministering to athletes and coaches of the Badger’s mens teams. Jayne’s role focuses on staff development by serving and training our new staff and interns. Both job roles are a great fit for us! Another exciting part of our roles here has to do with growing the scope of our ministry. Not only will do we serve at UW -Madison, but we also help our staff team reach much of Wisconsin as we invest in student leaders from other college athletic departments around the state!
In 2 Timothy 2:2 it says “And the things you have heard me say, in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people, who will also be qualified to teach others.” The AIA team in Wisconsin knows that we will succeed in this biblical goal to the extent that we have a global scope, prioritize staff growth and development, work towards establishing spiritual movements everywhere, faithfully steward resources & pursue diversity.
We are so thankful for this incredible opportunity!