The beautiful thing about living on mission is that it comes in all shapes and sizes. God is a creative God and has a billion and one ways to reach the lost and minister to His beloved ones. He is not boring. He enjoys using our gifts, talents, skills, jobs, neighborhoods, hobbies, etc., to love and serve our neighbors.
In the life of Jodie Karsak (photo, on right), the vehicle God has used for her has been sports and athletics. Early on, Jodie gave her heart to the Lord, in Gary’s church at that! She was raised in this church from a young child. Gary has had the pleasure of watching her life story unfold and blossom before his eyes. She remembers a time in high school at Olathe South where God used a trying circumstance to show her that He cared about her sports career. She was 16 years old. Her team made it to Nationals, which was a big deal. The problem is that God was calling her to go on this mission trip in Mexico that conflicted with the Nationals Tournament. She didn’t want to go on this mission trip, but she obeyed. Right before the trip, someone paid for a flight for her from Monterrey, Mexico, to make it to the Nationals. God spoke to her that He wanted her to do both. She saw the truth play out in her life of delighting herself in God and seeking His kingdom first, to see then her desires met and fulfilled. It was that Nationals game that a recruiter from Wichita State saw her play.
Jodie went on to play for Wichita State. She had an offer from the University of Missouri where she could have played in the Missouri Valley Conference, but she knew God was calling her to play at Wichita State. Her coach there was a Christian who mentored and encouraged Jodie’s life. She saw by example how her coach poured love into her teammates day after day while playing collegiate basketball. It inspired her.
After college, Jodie married and had two children and stayed home with them to raise them for the next ten years. They were living in Derby, Kansas, at the time, just south of Wichita. She saw a job opening at the high school for a Girls’ Varsity Assistant Basketball Coach. She applied, not thinking she would get it since she’d been out of the game for ten years and having her only coaching experience being at the YMCA coaching her son. But she gave it a ‘go’ anyway. God had His favor on her because she got the position!
One year later, the Varsity Coach moved on to take a football coaching position, making Jodie now the Varsity Coach. One note to add is that the Derby girls’ basketball team had been in a drought for a while. They had only won four games in previous years. God blessed her efforts and labor of love tremendously. For a good length of time, they had a 6’6 girl and a fantastic point guard at the same time. It was like the Stockton-Malone combo on the Utah Jazz. They went on to make it to the Championship game and on to State!
She contributes her winning and turning this team around to the Lord. Her heart is for Him. Love KC’s heartbeat of living on mission is hers as well. Gary said it well that she believes that Jodie was being her true self, and that’s why God blesses her. At her core is her identity in Christ. Her identity in Christ is who she is more than anything else. She lived out of this identity and allowed God to live and move through her to bless these girls’ on her team. People see in her that she’s not there to preach to them or coerce them into something but to help, love, and care for them. The world sees the confidence and security she has in Christ, even though they don’t understand it. It draws people to her.
She wanted to create a foundation for the girls, not just for their basketball season but one that would sustain them all through their lives. She had been asking the Lord at the beginning of her coaching days at Derby what their mission or ‘brand’ was. He gave her the word ‘Uncommon.’ He referred back to His Scripture where He says that we are to be set apart for Christ. She taught this and referred back to being ‘set apart’ repeatedly throughout her coaching days. She talked about how we are to be ‘uncommon’ or ‘set apart’ in our mindsets, how we respond to failure, how we are willing to put our own success down for the success of the team, in our character, our choices, and so on. She taught that unlike what the world says, winning comes through character.
One of the most memorable games they had was during a Championship game against Manhattan. They were behind 16 points with five minutes left in the 4th quarter. She called a time-out and talked to the girls. She encouraged them that it didn’t matter what the score was; they were going to finish. What mattered was the perspective they had. God just came and blessed it. They’re down to two minutes to go, still down 16 points, and ended up tying it! Even though they still lost, that loss fueled them for the following year’s Championship game that they ended up winning!
She referred back to Bible stories often. This one team from Maize, Kansas, for some reason, intimidated her girls and couldn’t win against them. She talked about Joshua & Caleb going into the Promised Land and forgetting about the negative report from the spies. She told them that Maize was Canaan, the Promised Land. They ended up shifting their perspective about Maize and ended up beating them!
She’s been coaching the girls for the last eight years. This past year was her final year coaching, as the Lord has called her on to the next leg of her journey. God has opened a door for a new journey living and working in Olathe and Johnson County for Fellowship of Christian Athletes coaching and equipping other coaches. She wants to help other coaches who love the Lord to live on mission coaching their teams.
Being on full-time staff at FCA means that she is a missionary as the Olathe Area Rep. She has to raise her own funds to continue work in this capacity by July 30th to start now; otherwise, she won’t be able to get into the school until October. But of course, she would love to start now if the Lord allows.
If you read this and are interested in funding her and helping her, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She would love to speak with you!
We pray you are encouraged to live out of your faith anywhere as you live, learn, work and play. Thanks for being here!