FCA director: ‘We’re leveraging the game of basketball as a way to evangelize and disciple’
November 14, 2022
CLEVELAND — When Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) Metro Cleveland Director Nobles Darby IV got free tickets to a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game from a high ranking executive in February of 2020, he had no idea how God was going to use this opportunity. While sitting in the crowd, Darby clearly heard God whisper the phrase “Full Court Faith” to him — with no further context.
“I didn’t know what it meant,” Darby said. “I didn’t know what it looked like or the first place to start. I just said, ‘Okay, God… I’m going to trust you. Make it clear to me what this is.’”
The very next day, the executive who gave Darby the tickets called to ask how the game was. When Darby mentioned FCA and described its mission, the executive asked a surprising question: “How can FCA and the Cleveland Cavaliers work together?”
Thus began “Full Court Faith,” an inner-city youth basketball league for third to sixth grade boys and girls created by FCA and the Cavaliers. All coaches associated with the program are given FCA’s E3 discipleship training and teach Bible lessons before or after every practice and game. For the last season, local businesses donated funds so each athlete could play for free, get a full uniform and have a reception banquet at the end of the season. FCA provided Athletes Bibles and the Cavaliers gave each player a pair of game tickets.
“We’ve made it abundantly clear from day one that we’re leveraging the game of basketball as a way to evangelize and disciple,” said Darby. “If the league begins to drift, then we’re not serving these coaches and children in the nature by which God called us.”
Young athletes and their families are already seeing the eternal impact Full Court Faith is having in the community. “You had kids from all different parts of the city come to this one place and actually be able to learn more about their faith and develop not only their basketball skills, but also their life skills,” one parent said. “At the end of the season, I saw numerous kids exchanging phone numbers. That’s a real testament to the positive impact the league had.”
Moving forward, Darby plans to create a girl’s league (the first season was co-ed), increase the age of the players into high school, and get more coaches and athletes from the Cavaliers involved. He also has a vision to expand Full Court Faith into other cities with professional basketball teams. No matter how far Full Court Faith goes, Darby understands this divinely inspired idea will always have Jesus at the center.
“We’re leveraging this platform of sports to help these kids go deeper into their relationships with God,” Darby explained. “When that happens, it means we’re helping individuals with an internal decision that’s going to yield far more significant results than anything here on this earth — or certainly in a basketball league.”
FCA’s theme for 2022 is Every, based on Ephesians 1:3: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.” FCA reminds Christian coaches and athletes that they already have everything they need in Christ and encourages them to seek Him both on and off the field.