As the International Trainer for 3Dimensional Coaching, Mark Hull has presented the 3D Coaching training hundreds of times to coaches and sports ministry leaders all over the world. But he had no idea how a simple game plan by Roberto Medina would spark a 3D revolution in Ecuador this past January. Roberto not only organized the 3D workshop, but he also had a strategy to follow-up and follow-through with the coaches by having a strategy by offering a small plastic redemption card.
Mark shared that the cost of the 3D online course was $125, but FCA could offer the training for $25 while holding up the redemption card.
Even though the redemption card was something Mark had been using in the United States to promote the online 3D Coaching course, he had never offered it internationally. The coaches in Ecuador rushed to the stage after Mark’s presentation to get a card.
FCA International Divisional Vice President Jim Roquemore was also in attendance and marveled at the sight.
“It was like a stampede to get those cards,” Jim says. “It was just a card. It was just an idea. But we knew we were on to something.”
After the workshop, which was sanctioned by the governing sports body in that state, Jim and Mark contemplated what next steps needed to be taken.
“The 3D training has mostly been PowerPoint based,” Jim says. “You deliver the training. The coaches get excited. You’re in another country, and then you hope you get to come back one day to help them continue on that journey. It was kind of frustrating. We started doing 3D training in Latin America seven years ago. There was no follow-up or follow-through strategy. But sitting there in Ecuador, Mark and I had an aha moment and really saw the power of how we presented 3D and how we positioned FCA within that strategy.”
There was just one problem. 3D Coaching resources in Spanish didn’t exist. The coaches were excited about signing up for the online course, but it wasn’t in their heart language.
Once back in the U.S., Mark, Jim and the FCA International Office raised the funding to spark the massive effort. Now, it was a matter of finding someone to take on the task. As it turns out, the solution had been right in front of them.
Found In Translation
Roberto Medina was born and raised in Cartagena, Colombia, where his budding track and field career was derailed due to a knee injury at the age of 16. While he remained active as a competitor and coach, his desire to share the gospel through sports created unresolved tension through his early adulthood.
Roberto joined the International Mission Board as a church planter and translator but wasn’t truly fulfilled in his calling. That all changed in 2011 when a providential meeting with James Oilar led him to join FCA Colombia. A year later, Roberto and James collectively presented 3D Coaching to a group of coaches.
“I fell in love with 3D Coaching immediately,” Roberto says. “I knew it was going to be the key to engaging the coaches. We were going to offer them something they would be interested in.”
Roberto was certified as at the 3D Training School in 2015 and started doing workshops in Colombia but quickly noticed a hitch in the process. Once the coaches had completed their 3D Coach workshop, it was difficult to remain in touch with them and develop meaningful relationships. Still, Roberto forged ahead with his efforts and eventually expanded into Ecuador and Venezuela.
Fast forward to January 2019 where Mark Hull was presenting 3D Coaching in Ecuador with Roberto serving as his translator. Shortly thereafter, Roberto committed to heading up the translation efforts—an ambitious undertaking that needed to be done by April in time for two large presentations.
“I brought in three others to help me,” he explains. “Sometimes we worked 20-hour days. Even though my friends were also translating, I went through the course 10, 12 times. That helped me go even deeper into the material.”
With the online course completed in Spanish in three months, over 400 coaches used the newly created Spanish redemption cards after attending the workshops in April.
“That woke up the sleeping giant,” Roberto says. “The coaches were so happy to have the material in Spanish.”
According to Mark, it was Roberto’s vision for the region that pulled everything into focus.
“Roberto championed the translation,” he says. “That was a lot of work and a lot of organizing. He just stayed on that because he saw what could happen when we when we had it finally translated. He saw the interest when we did the presentation in Ecuador and how it opened the door to a governing body there.”
The Spanish resources are quickly opening doors throughout Latin America and beyond with future 3D workshops planned for Paraguay and Argentina.
“We have the opportunity to engage universities, because there is no training like this anywhere,” Mark says. “They don’t have deep pockets, but they have a desire to train their coaches, and you can do it online. The Internet is getting faster and more pervasive everywhere in the world. What we’re seeing happen has been stunning.”
Perhaps the most surprising development has taken place in Venezuela—a country mired in a severe economic and political crisis. Dating back to 2012, Roberto traveled there 11 times to help local FCA staff develop 3D Coaching locally. Although it is currently too dangerous for him to travel there now, the efforts to engage coaches have continued.
Back in Colombia, Roberto is using his connections to gain access to governing bodies in places like Cali where the Secretary of Sports has recently agreed to allow the 3D Coaching to work with 378 coaches and 22,000 athletes.
“Because of how 3D Coaching is positioned, we can come in now as coaches education,” Mark says. “It’s not a religious product. It has a valid educational background and now we can work with universities to also do coaches education, and it offers a faith based option and virtually most of the coaches end up choosing the faith based option because it’s a free add-on.”
3D Coaching has also opened doors at universities throughout Ecuador where Roberto was able to present to 54 professors who then invited him to speak to 334 students. That evening, the faculty director invited him to dinner and asked how he could become a Christian.
“He gave his life to Christ along with his daughter and his wife,” Roberto says. “Our explanation of the third dimension opened the door to the conversation that made Christianity clear to him.”
The man then invited Roberto to return in November and speak to 3,000 more students.
“We are really encouraged and highly motivated,” Roberto says. “We’re looking for ways to improve every single day, because we see how God is using 3D Coaching to start FCA camps, clinics and chaplaincy. It was the spark we needed to start a big fire.”
That led to another “nice problem” as Roberto calls it.
“We’ve been receiving so many calls that our phones are burning out,” he says. “Our phones are breaking. The batteries are running out. We’re asking supporters to donate their old phones to us so we can handle the high demand from these coaches who want to learn more about 3D Coaching.”
Hope in the Huddles
On a macro level, 3D Coaching has created massive opportunities for the expansion of FCA’s influence throughout Latin America. But it’s stories like the faculty director giving his heart to Christ that show the true power in what’s happening there.
Roberto instinctively knew that the program’s growth would mean coaches were going to have questions about the spiritual elements found within the third dimension. That spurred him to start training the FCA staff in Latin America to become facilitators. Their job is to build relationships while the coaches are going through the online 3D Coaching’s 25 modules.
“We engage the coaches. We build a relationship with them,” Roberto says. “We don’t offer 3D as a religious product, but our facilitators are there to help when they start asking questions about the third dimension which deals with the heart of the coach. A lot of the coaches just wanted to learn how to be better at their jobs, but we had about 12 coaches who came to us asking how to learn more about the spiritual aspects, and they became Christians.”
That was just the beginning. Roberto and Mark hosted a luncheon with over 400 coaches in Barranquilla, Colombia. They gave the coaches two phone numbers to call for more information. The following week, they received 923 calls, which led them to start what has grown to over 40 Coaches Huddles throughout the country.
“We have testimonies of coaches becoming Christians through those Huddles,” Roberto says. “In the past, it was difficult to do Huddles but now, because of the 3D training, it’s been much easier.”
To And Through The Coach
As the 3D coordinator for Latin America-South, Roberto is excited to see what God is doing in Colombia and beyond. By his estimations, FCA has impacted more coaches (close to 1,000) in 2019 than in his previous eight years on staff. But unfortunately, the 700-plus chaplains he and James Oilar trained during that time are all but gone. Only about 20 from that original group are still actively involved in sports ministry.
“We were frustrated, so we started praying, ‘God, we need workers,’” Roberto says. “But now, we see the solution. The solution is to train coaches and now those coaches become chaplains to the kids. I have seen coaches sharing their faith. They are baby Christians, but they are sharing what they are learning. Some coaches ask, ‘Can I share these stories from the Bible? I’m not a pastor.’ And we tell them, ‘Just share your faith. Just share what Jesus did for you.’ We have seen coaches doing that.”
At the Let’s Go camp this year, for instance, Roberto observed that the FCA staff and volunteers were no longer providing the bulk of personal ministry and, in fact, it was the coaches (many of which whom were trained through 3D Coaching) who stepped in a shared their faith. In that camp alone, 452 athletes and parents made decisions for Christ.
“3D is penetrating into the sports world and into the families so quickly,” Roberto says. “3D isn’t just impacting coaches. It’s impacting teachers. It’s impacting parents. It’s impacting athletes. 3D is for everybody. 3D is touching lives even out of the sports world.”