Every year, said Fellowship of Christian Athletes board chairman Paul Songer, at least one student says the Bible he's just been given is the only Bible he's ever had.
With that in mind, and a heritage of placing Bibles in the hands of students, athletes and coaches, the Lookout Mountain chapter of the FCA is seeking funds to give out 2,000 FCA Bibles this fall.
"Each individual office in their vision planning for the upcoming school year," said chapter director Greg Spradlin, "will estimate how many [Bibles] they'll distribute through specific presentations and anonymously."
From 2 to 10 p.m. Friday, the North Georgia chapter will be soliciting funds for the books at an event called Bibles for the Battlefield at the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe.
"Kids are in a battle every day -- with the media, with technology," Songer said. "It's amazing the peer pressure they're under, the temptations they're under.
"We need to put the sword in their hand. The sword is the Word. It will give them the strength to overcome a lot of these temptations."
Songer said the FCA and the restaurant have been in discussion for three months on details for the event.
It's not tied to any of the recent controversy on the restaurant owner's stance on gay marriage, he said.
Songer said the local chapter annually gives 1,000 to 1,500 Bibles to area students, athletes and coaches.
"This year, we're stepping out in faith," he said. "We're trying to improve the quality of ministry in the four counties," Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker, served by the chapter. "We're putting [the Bibles] in as many hands as we can."
Spradlin said in addition to some of the 1,800 students and athletes in FCA huddles in the 32 schools in the counties, some of the Bibles go to weekend travel team coaches, who use them for team chapels.
"There has never really been a national funding [for the Bibles,] he said. "And we make no profit from them."
Although the FCA chapter receives funds from a banquet, golf tournament and individual churches, Songer said this is a new direction for the organization.
"Locally," he said, "we've never done anything like this."
Songer said the student/athlete Bible and coach's Bible have enhancements for those specific groups. The new ones, he said, even refer to the Olympics.
He said many of the chapters are followed with questions that can be used in individual or group study. Elsewhere, there is information dealing with issues such as loss of a loved one, anxiety, peer pressure, drug abuse and alcohol abuse.
"There are things they can read and understand," he said. "They're tied to Scripture, and they'll help them get through some of those times."
Spradlin said the "absolute truth found in the Bible" helps students and athletes deal with the unknowns and gray areas in their lives.
"Within sports, you talk about players being in the trenches, being on the front lines of competition," he said. "There is a battle for our kids and youth in this generation, and we want to help them to win. There also is a battle for truth and what is truth. This supplies a resource that can help the students and coaches alike to be strong in their faith and persevere in the battles."
Radio station J103 will have a live remote at the donation drive, which is sponsored by Joyland Christian Academy.
Members of area school huddle groups also will be on hand, working to show support, commitment and involvement.
In addition, the restaurant, on its busiest night, will give 10 percent of its evening sales to FCA when customers mention "I'm with FCA" with their purchase.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...