At age 30, Russell Bowers had never ventured more than 15 miles from his hometown in Northern Ireland. The furniture salesman had never even spent the night away from his wife and two kids.
Then Alan Nixon, Northern Ireland director of Athletes in Action, Cru's sports ministry, called Russell and asked him to participate in an evangelistic coaching clinic -- in Namibia, Africa.
"Russell was a rough guy with a big reputation," says Alan. Although Russell had accepted Christ when he was young, he had drifted away from his faith. Then he got involved with AIA at a local soccer club and recommitted his life to Christ.
When Alan told Russell about the Namibia trip, Russell agreed to go. After helping lead Namibians to Christ, the former semiprofessional soccer player decided to join Alan in serving full time with Cru in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
"Everywhere across the world, sport unites people," says Alan. "In Northern Ireland, the religious communities are set against each other, but I can see why God allowed Cru to begin here through sport. We work with both communities every day."