Athletes Pursue God Using His Word as a Road Map

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Purdue Student Leader: ‘I Try to Live in a Way that Glorifies God’

March 15, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo.— In a culture that can lead people in circles, Christians pursue hope and purpose in the Word of God. It can be a tiring journey, but God delights in providing the fuel needed to continue forward. According to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA,, “the Bible has specific directions that lead to a full and everlasting life if Christians trust that God knows where He is taking them.”

FCA’s theme for 2021 is Pursue, which is based on the verse 1 Timothy 6:11: “But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” FCA encourages its members to pursue God utilizing His Word as a road map to His Kingdom.

As FCA Purdue student leader Aidan O’Connell prepares for his upcoming senior year at Purdue University, he hopes that supporters will pray for a greater measure of courage and bold leadership. As a freshman, O’Connell connected with FCA his first week on campus and met athletic chaplain Marty Dittmar who has served Purdue for 24 years.

Recently, FCA had the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with O’Connell, as featured in the FCA In Action blog. When O’Connell was a freshman, he was buried on the crowded quarterback depth chart. However, starting QB and future NFL athlete David Blough became a mentor and friend on the field and in his spiritual life.

“He was really open,” Dittmar recalled. “He was very personable and expressed a real desire to be involved with FCA at Purdue.”

So when FCA Purdue’s annual trip to South Africa rolled around the following Spring Break, Dittmar instinctively knew that O’Connell was a prime candidate despite never being on the mission field before.

“I know it’s cliché, but you go there because you want to help them and they end up helping you,” O’Connell said. “You see things through a new lens. When I came back, it was almost hard to enjoy things that I had—to get in a car and go places or go out to eat. I was almost angry at myself because I realized the people back in South Africa couldn’t do the things that we take for granted. It helped me see the fragility of life and appreciate the privileges we have here.”

O’Connell returned to South Africa in May of 2019 and this time was able to stay for ten days. An extra year of leadership training back home proved invaluable as he took a larger role on the ministry team.

While O’Connell’s heart for the kids of South Africa grew larger, it spurred an even greater desire to ramp up his efforts back at school. “He had a passion to come back to Purdue and lead his peers to Christ,” Dittmar said. “He knew that was his place. In our devotional times, he expressed how God was telling him he needed to get back to Purdue and share the Gospel with his teammates.”

O’Connell has a road map of sorts that he follows to personally pursue Christ. “I try to make sure my words line up with what I believe. Even more than that, I try to live in a way that glorifies God.”

FCA’s 2021 theme of Pursue will explore what it means to pursue Truth, Life, Team and Mission. Each of these themes connect to engage in intentional pursuit of God and His great call on His children’s lives (or on the lives of His followers).

FCA explains that if Christians want to improve their skills in their sport, it only makes sense to spend time practicing, studying the game, and taking care of themselves to become better. In the same way, spiritual training should be exercised if Christians want to grow in Christ. Therefore it is important to be in God’s Word every day.

Throughout the year, FCA will be sharing stories that focus on what it means to pursue Jesus and the calling that He has on our lives. The four elements of Pursue that FCA will be exploring this year are: Pursue Truth, Pursue Life, Pursue Team, and Pursue Mission.

More about FCA’s 2021 ministry theme of Pursue can be explored at where visitors can also watch the Pursue theme video as well as the 2021 Camps video. FCA also offers an outline to coincide with the Pursue theme that addresses sacrifice, surrender, surround and serve over four days of Camps, events or other meetings.

In 2019, Fellowship of Christian Athletes also celebrated its 65th year in existence. After extensive growth, FCA has reached millions of people with the Gospel. View a timeline of FCA’s 65-year history here, including videos, quotes, articles, leader profiles, Camp themes, photos and more.

Read more about Fellowship of Christian Athletes here, visit FCA’s website at, its Facebook page at or its Twitter feed


To interview a Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative, contact, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.