The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) was started in 1954 and has become the largest Christian sports organization in the United States. FCA works with coaches and athletes in the professional arena, as well as coaches and athletes in colleges, high schools, junior highs and with youth.
The vision of FCA is “to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches.” Their mission is “to present to athletes and coaches and all whom they influence the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church.” The organization stresses the importance by members of a true commitment to Jesus and His Word by honoring the values of integrity, service, teamwork and excellence.
FCA is represented in many sports, one of which is golf. In the United States there are over one hundred million golfers and fans. Close to five million of these are youth. FCA Junior Golf Camps provide excellent golf instruction in beautiful settings, along with outstanding sports training, inspiring speakers and loads of fun. These camps give FCA an opportunity to spread the Gospel and provide leadership training.
Zach Johnson is one of the professional golfers who has teamed up with FCA. He gladly speaks about his faith. He openly encourages other athletes and coaches to commit and deepen their lives in Christ He is quoted as follows about his faith:" Before I was one, I always thought being a Christian would be boring. In reality, it has been the complete opposite. There is joy, fulfillment and even fun! There also are challenges and trials, but knowing that my foundation lies in Jesus and what He has done for me is what is important. It's all that matters."
Golfers may recognize Zach Johnson as the 2007 winner of the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. After winning he talked about his Christian faith and thanked God saying, “This being Easter (April 8, 2007), I cannot help but believe my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ was walking with me. I owe this (win) to Him.“
Zack Johnson has also won the AT&T Classic (2007), the Sony Open in Hawaii (2009), along with more than twenty other professional golf tournaments. He was born in Iowa and raised in Cedar Rapids. After the extensive flooding in Cedar Rapids in 2008, he organized the PGA Tour Flood Relief effort through a one-day golf event held in the city.
The Zach and Kim Johnson Foundation was started by Zach and his wife, Kim. It was formed to benefit children in Iowa facing very challenging circumstances. The Birdies That Care program began In 2005 along with Zach's long-time sponsor, Transamerica. In the years since it started it has raised almost $900,000. A pre-determined community agency that serves children in need was given the award each year. In July, 2014, the program was converted to the Kids on Course College Scholarship Program.
The Zach Johnson Foundation Classic is in Cedar Rapids each year at the Elmcrest Country Club, where Johnson got his start. The inaugural tournament was held on August 1, 2011. That year it raised nearly a half-million dollars for the educational program called Kids on Course. Zach Johnson and his wife generously matched the money raised.
The Classic is now a two-part event. There is a fundraiser gala and auction that is held for sponsors, followed by a Pro-Am charity golf tournament. The money raised supports and fully funds programs (Kids on Course) at selected elementary schools in Cedar Rapids and is coordinated with the Cedar Rapids Community School District and the United Way of East Central Iowa. The program is aimed at inspiring students by giving them the confidence to realize their academic and individual potentials. Many local and national sports figures attend the event, along with several thousand spectators.
Johnson has said, “It is very easy for me and my wife to be associated with organizations like FCA that really have a heart for Jesus. Because sports are so ingrained in our culture, that is a great platform, and it’s great to both share from it and be a part of it.”
Jim Esary, national director of the FCA Golf ministry, says that golf is a game of rules and proper behavior. All players have to think about how they act and perform on the course. He notes that the players who are Christians take being a gentlemen a step further, as they also use opportunities to witness about their faith. They are willing to help on and off the course when they can, using their celebrity status to help further the name of Jesus. He considers Zach to be one of those guys. Zach is never hesitant to show what it means to be a follower of Christ.
For further information, refer to the website: www.zachjohnsongolf.com.