Audio Bibles Make The Cut
Audio Bibles are suiting up. Hundreds of student athletes across college campuses are listening to God’s Word in audio. In fact, student athletes from more than 20 major universities, including Auburn, Stanford, Rutgers and Virginia Tech, will listen through the entire New Testament as part of a campaign called You’ve Got The Time. In this volunteer Bible listening initiative, participants listen through the entire New Testament by devoting 28 minutes a day for only 40 days.
Sponsored by Faith Comes By Hearing, the world’s premier Audio Bible ministry, You’ve Got The Time reaches people with practical, life-changing Bibles in MP3 format.
At a recent national sports chaplain conference, Roger Holien, a Faith Comes By Hearing representative and a 10-year sports chaplain with the University of New Mexico Lobos, presented the 40-day listening challenge to a group of college sports chaplains.
“How many of your student athletes are reading the Bible?” Holien asked the chaplains. “Not many” was the common answer. Holien followed that question with, “So how many of your student athletes are plugged into earphones?’”
According to a 2007 ECAR Study, 83 percent of 18- to 19-year-old college students own mobile media players and listen up to two hours a day. The authors of the study, who surveyed more than 27,000 students at 103 colleges and universities, note that most undergraduates today are “digital natives” who have grown up immersed in some form of technology.
“Everybody’s got an iPod,” said John Maurer, an Athletes in Action chaplain working alongside students at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “There’s no doubt this is a listening generation.”
Student athletes listen nearly everywhere they go, “between classes, while traveling, in their dorms and in the hotel rooms,” Holien said. “By using Audio Bibles, Faith Comes By Hearing is meeting the student athletes were they’re at,” Holien said. Faith Comes By Hearing is supplying all the participating chaplains with Audio Drama New Testaments on MP3 disc. Students can download the audio files to their iPods or other mobile media device, listen directly from their computers or laptops or engage in God’s Word during routine activities.
“I’m sold on it; I’m a fan,” said Mikado Hinson, a Fellowship of Christian Athletes chaplain working with students at the University of Houston. “This is a vital and needed tool which gives me an opportunity to get students into the Word.”
“Aside from their textbooks, student athletes really don’t read,” said Holien.
Agreeing with Holien, the chaplains confessed that time constraints are the biggest challenges student athletes face.
“Student athletes have serious time commitments,” said Wes Yeary, an FCA sports chaplain at Auburn University. Yeary said that classes, treatments, film work, training, practice, study hall, and tutoring add up to “one intense and demanding schedule.”
Not only that, Mikado Hinson said, “they have workout schedules, game schedules and traveling schedules on top of full class loads. They are finding out that their schedules are making Bible reading very difficult.”
“They have so many different things pulling on them that quiet time is a challenge. Getting time alone to read the Bible is harder [for them] to find,” Yeary noted.
Being a student athlete not only means a busy schedule, it means a higher profile. These high-profile lifestyles provide other spiritual obstacles for these student athletes.
People are drawn to athletes, said Yeary, which adds to their pressure. “They are put on a pedestal, and the public has higher expectations for them.”
Student athletes are also representatives of their team and their families, Hinson said. “They have to deal with the media and maintain an image, which is a lot of pressure.”
FCA chaplain Matt Murphy, who is working with Mississippi College students, said, “they don't feel valued unless they do something great in life.”
Maurer said their worldview stems from the idea of “‘I am what I do.’ If they are not successful, then they believe ‘I’m not a good person,’ but if they succeed, then they believe, ‘I am a good person.”
“There is a lot of comparison; they are highly competitive individuals. They are always seeing who’s topping the totem pole on the field or in the weight room,” Maurer added.
Despite tough schedules and pressure to succeed, all the chaplains agree that routine Bible engagement is important for the students’ spiritual growth.
“The Word of God transforms the way we think,” said Yeary, who has spent nearly 12 years working with collegiate athletes. He now works with about 400 students.
“Romans 12 urges, ‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,’” quoted Maurer. “Apart from God’s Word we can’t grow. Apart from the Word of God, discipleship doesn’t happen.”
Fellow chaplain, Murphy, echoed the others, “God’s Word will transform their heart and give them life. They will know that their value comes from God alone, and they will understand why they were created.”
Participation is High
“The student athletes are really excited about this,” said Yeary. “And I’m thrilled about it. It’s only 28 minutes a day, which anybody can do. They can squeeze in their listening during those short windows [of free time] throughout their day, between classes or while their foot is in whirlpool. It complements, enhances their busy lifestyle.”
At Rutgers, Maurer says there are about 650 varsity athletes on campus, and 100 are involved in ministry on regular basis. Maurer expects 25-30 percent will take the Bible listening challenge.
At Auburn, more than 25 people signed up after Yeary announced the first round of Bible listening.
Hinson said that a large number of student athletes at University of Houston are involved in regular ministry and will be presented the 40-day Bible listening challenge in 2008.
“I think this will help them grow tremendously,” said Hinson, a former Houston Rockets chaplain. “The more senses used in learning equals more retention.”
“Young men and women will be hearing God’s Word, which will penetrate hearts, transforms lives and help them grow in their faith,” Yeary said. “If they know it, then they can apply it and live it out.”
Time is Short
“These chaplains had an overwhelming response at the need and the practicality of using audio technology to reach their campuses,” said Holien. “Being a Godly influence is a sports chaplain’s No. 1 job. And they only have four or five years to do that.”
Holien said, “Faith Comes By Hearing’s goal is to get student athletes in the Word. Once we get feedback from these athletes and chaplains, we will take God’s Word to more schools across the nation. We want to influence the next generation of leaders both on and off the field.”