I had a great childhood. I was involved in a great church with people who had authentic relationships with Christ. It was normal to be a pastor’s kid. Life was good. Then, in third grade my dad was diagnosed with a glioblastoma. A glioblastoma is a really bad brain tumor, a grade four. He had virtually no chance of survival. It was very difficult for me to see my dad get sick, lose his hair, go to the hospital all the time, and be at friends’ houses all the time. Through all the hard times I began to realize God was really there for me. He never left me. God was directing my path even when I did not understand where that path was leading. After i graduated high school I found myself at a small Christian college called Columbia International University in Columbia South Carolina. I was able to play soccer while I was studying to become an elementary teacher. God changed my plans once again and I ended up finishing grad school with a Masters in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for me in the future.
How & why I became a MAI Missionary?
I went on my first missions trip to the Dominican Republic in the 8th grade and discovered my love for kids. The next year I was invited to be a part of a mission trip to Colombia, South America with the Charlotte Eagles. There I discovered I could use the sport I love and share Jesus at the same time. I immediately was hooked. From that point on I went on the Charlotte Eagle’s Youth Tour any chance I got. I ended up going on the Youth tour from ’10 to ’13. As I began my life in college I became too old for the Chicago Eagles Youth Tour and was pointed towards another branch of MAI, the Chicago Eagles Academy. I participated in my first Academy in ’14 and have never looked back. I fell in love with the kids who would come to our camps, and blessed to see their lives changed forever because of Jesus. I found my niche up in the Chicago Academy and I plan to help in any way I can in the future. I love being able to use the sport I love to glorify the God I love.
I was born and raised in Brazil, but moved to the US for missions training when I was 22. I played soccer at and graduated from Grace College (Winona Lake, IN) with a degree in Psychology and Intercultural Ministry. My wife, Tasha, and I have four children. Together we served in soccer ministry in Japan for 3 years. I joined the Chicago Eagles staff in January 2015, with the primary responsibilities of being the on-site camp director and an Urban Eagles coach. I now primarily focus on coaching and discipling the U11 boys team, but also help to lead the Summer Academy trips to Brazil.
How & why I became a MAI Missionary
My first experience with MAI was while at Grace College. My team traveled to Japan with the Southern California Seahorses in 2005. My heart was drawn to soccer ministry, and God called me and my family to serve in Japan from 2010-2013. We helped Masa and Chie Yokota to establish the Seahorse Soccer International Club. Though this experience, God’s call to long-term sports ministry became clear. After I joined the Chicago Eagles’ Summer Academy trip to Brazil in 2013, Tasha and I felt led to join the ministry in Chicago.
After a season of coaching and pursuing a Master’s degree, I am shifting roles to be more involved with strategic Gospel work, here in West Chicago. Originally from Staunton, VA, I bring a mix of skills and life experiences – having worked in higher education, public service, and, most recently, my local church.
I obtained a B.A. from Bluefield College (2013), majoring in Graphic Communications and minoring in Christian Studies. I then completed my M.A. in Intercultural and Urban Studies (2018) from Moody Theological Seminary.
I currently hold a USSF D License.
How & why I became a MAI Missionary
From my initial involvement with MAI in 2011 until the present, I’ve had an array of positive experiences with gospel workers who make up this organization – first as an academy participant during college, then as a research partner in seminary. The people I’ve known and worked with for the past eight years are dear friends, devoted co-laborers, and they seem to always look for ways to improve. The thought of engaging people and communities with the intent to communicate Christ during this period of MAI’s history, with the available resources and support staff, is one that excites me very much.
|I love people, I love sports, but most of all I love Jesus.
I was born into a missionary family on the island of New Guinea in Indonesia. As I grew up I was privileged to be a part of my parent’s ministry of discipleship to many youth in the area. Along with that, my dad would often take me to the gym on Saturday afternoons and coach me in all manner of sports. Out of these influences grew a desire to see people come to know the love of Jesus through sports.After graduating from college I returned to Indonesia to be near my family for a time. Because of needs at the nearby international school I found myself teaching PE and art. Through the first year I only taught part-time and I fully intended to return to the US by the end of that first year. But God had much better plans for me, which included another two years in Indonesia, developing a love for teaching (which I continued to do throughout my time there), and meeting my wife (who filled in at the clinic at the school where I taught). After getting married Mykie and I moved to Chicago where she attended grad school and now works in a local hospital.
How & why I became a MAI Missionary
|My sister and her husband have been a part of the Chicago Eagles for some time, and it is through them that I learned of the ministry. During the summer of 2014 I participated in the program for college students. Ever since that time I have felt drawn to the Eagles, sensing that God is at work among and through these people.|
I was born and raised in Knoxville, TN in a Christian home with very supportive Christian parents. I went to Christian private schools all the way through high school, but I never really understood the Gospel. My junior year of high school, one of the former soccer coaches asked me to go on the Charlotte Eagles Youth Tour to Brazil that summer. I accepted his offer because I loved playing soccer and playing in Brazil sounded like a dream. Little did I know that this trip would completely change my life. In Brazil was the first time I ever witnessed the ability to play soccer for the Lord, and that is when the Gospel finally clicked for me. Because of that, on the third night in Brazil, I fully surrendered my life to the Lord and gave everything up to Him. Ever since then, I have been a firm believer in using soccer as a tool to spread the Gospel, and I have obtained a passion for sports ministry. After I graduated high school, I was able to attend Transylvania University in Lexington, KY where I had the opportunity to play soccer all four year, meet a beautiful woman of God that I am lucky enough to call my wife, Charlotte, and continue using my passion for sports ministry to reach others. With the opportunities God has given me in my past, I am stoked to see what He has awaiting Charlotte and me in the future.
How & why I became a MAI Missionary
The summer of my junior year in high school, 2013, I went to Brazil with Charlotte Eagles Youth Tour and that was my first ever missions/sports ministry trip. On that trip is where I gave my life to Christ and learned the joy that comes form playing for Jesus. Then the following summer, 2014, I went back on Youth Tour with the Charlotte Eagles to Brazil to learn more about sports ministry and how I could use the sport I have been playing all my life to reach the lost and spread the Gospel. After that trip, I was hooked on sports ministry. As I graduated high school and went to college, I felt like I was too old for Youth Tour, but I still wanted to spend my summers playing soccer and serving the Lord. So the summer of 2015 I decided to go to Germany for a couple weeks with a few guys from the Charlotte Eagles. After running soccer camps in Germany, I felt like God was calling me to sports ministry. So I dropped my plans for an engineering degree, changed my major to psychology, and told God, “Here I am, send me.” Then the next summer, 2016, I was pointed to the Chicago Eagles Summer Academy and I absolutely loved it. I fell in love with the kids in the neighborhood and being able to watch them experience Jesus and have their lives changed. Also, in the same summer, I went to the Olympics in Brazil with a small team from the Charlotte Eagles and used sports ministry to share the Gospel with Olympic athletes, coaches, and fans. It was incredible to see that no matter how old someone gets or how successful they become, their life can still be changed by Jesus. The summer of 2017 I found myself back with the Chicago Eagles to see if this was where God wanted me. I felt at home up in Chicago and knew that was God’s way of telling me that I am home. I am excited to see how God uses me in Chicago and I am ready to serve in any way I can.
I grew up in Thousand Oaks, California. I have two very supportive parents (Jason and Carlee) and a caring younger brother (James). I was not born into a Christian household, it was not until my sophomore year of high school that I became a Christian and it completely changed my life. I realized that I no longer needed to strive for love and acceptance from others because my Heavenly Father says that I am fully loved and accepted by Him. This knowledge brought an immense amount of freedom and joy to my life.
I had the opportunity to go on a month-long mission trip to Indonesia in 2018. I was very impacted by this trip as it was the first time I had been immersed in a different culture for an extended period of time. The trip broadened my view of God and His vast creation. It was sobering to meet people that I had absolutely nothing in common with except for the reality that we are all human beings that are created and loved by God. It was like a glimpse of Heaven. From that trip, I knew I wanted to serve God internationally.
I moved across the country to attend Trinity International University and was there from 2018 to 2022. While at Trinity I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership as well as I played four years of collegiate soccer. My college soccer experience changed my life as it taught me many life lessons, developed my faith, and gave me a passion for sports ministry.
Through my college team, I heard about MAI, which ultimately led me to participate in the Chicago Eagles Summer Academy in 2021.
How and why I became a MAI missionary:
|The first time I experienced soccer and faith together was at Trinity. During my time playing, I learned that soccer could be a tool to glorify God, share the love of Christ with others, and grow one’s personal relationship with God. My college coach was deeply committed to teaching lessons about God and life through circumstances that arose on and off the field. The way my coach approached his role as a servant for God’s Kingdom by loving his players, teaching them about God, and holding a high soccer-performance standard sparked in me a passion for sports ministry.
I learned about MAI through participating in the Chicago Summer Academy in 2021. It was during that summer that I found an organization (MAI) that is so committed to using the game of soccer to further God’s Kingdom and make an impact of love on the players they engage with. That summer we took a trip overseas and it was there that I realized how soccer can be used as a bridge to connect people who may have nothing in common nor speak the same language yet they share a passion for the game, because of that they can relate. It is incredible how God can use such a simple and trivial game to build relationships and change lives. I knew I had to be a part of this work.
I had the blessing of growing up in home that served the Lord, but did not learn about a personal relationship with Jesus until college. My first experience with MAI in the Summer Academy brought me to a deep understanding of a life driven by my faith in Jesus, learning how He is the center, rather than just a part.
After I graduated in 2016 from Greenville University, in southern Illinois, with my Bachelors Degree in Special Education, God brought me to my one year residency with the Eagles. Initially, this was to me a buffer year to “figure out what I wanted to do with my life”. But boy, was I wrong in my intentions, quickly learning about my own passion for sports ministry and seeing it as a full time desire.
Following residency, God took me back to Greenville, coaching for a program that gave so much to me as a collegiate athlete while getting my Masters in Education. I gained valuable college coaching experience and also developed a passion for mentoring and ministry for women in this stage of life.
These experiences have brought me to a passion for full-time ministry with MAI and a desire to share the gospel through soccer.
How and why I became a MAI Missionary?
I was introduced to MAI through the Chicago Summer Academy in 2014, going into my Junior year of college. I fell in love with the ministry that summer, not knowing the Lord was changing my heart from a future in classroom teaching to a future as a missionary with the same community who helped transform my faith and taught me so much about a personal relationship with Jesus. My first experience with MAI opened my eyes to how the sport of soccer can be used as a platform to share the gospel and I am thrilled to join staff full-time in faithfulness to this mission.
I (Leo) was born in Goiânia, Brazil. I grew up in a Christian home with my mom, dad (Cleuza and Josias), older sister (Tânitha), and older brother (Alessandro). I was baptized when I was 14 years old at Igreja de Cristo do Novo Horizonte. I was an English teacher for youth while obtaining my college degree, and when I was 22, I was invited to be a youth leader assistant in Bookham, England. A year later I was back in Brazil but missions was still in my heart. After three years, which included translating for 4 Medical Boat trips in the Amazon (I met Nicole in one of those trips in 2009) and a trip to Africa, I decided to embrace my calling in full time ministry.
A few years later I ended up moving to the US so that I could learn more about sports ministry through the Chicago Eagles. During that time I also got a Master’s degree in Intercultural Studies and Urban Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. In 2014, I got married to Nicole and accepted the position of Chicago Eagles Executive Director. It was only in 2018 that I finally became an American Citizen!
I (Nicole) grew up in a loving home in Indianapolis, IN with both my parents (Jeff and Betsy) and two older brothers (Tom and AJ). I grew up going to church and was involved in the youth group for as long as I can remember. I remember accepting Christ in the car with my mom and was baptized by my pastor and father a short while later when I was about 8 years old. I went on many short-term mission’s trips with my church, which sparked a passion in my heart for missions.
I attended Christian school from kindergarten until senior year and was heavily involved in sports during all that time (older brothers are good for many things!). I went to college at Indiana Wesleyan University and studied Athletic Training. During that time, I went on a mission’s trip to the Amazon with the Indiana Wesleyan Men’s Soccer team and fell in love with sports ministry. It also didn’t hurt that I met Leo on that trip!
I graduated in 2010 with a degree in Athletic Training and by the grace of God got a job as a Certified Athletic Trainer at a Christian high school in Illinois. However, my passion for sports ministry only got stronger and I decided to be a part of the Chicago Eagles Summer Academy. I was a member in 2010 and have been involved with the Eagles ever since.
Why we became MAI missionaries:
When I (Leo) met the Chicago Eagles/Missionary Athletes International, I was drawn to their goal of using soccer as strategy to preach the gospel. The more I learned about the organization the more I realized how effective sports ministry was. I joined this ministry first because I knew the Lord had called me here. Also, I have seen amazing transformation happen through this ministry. I love MAI’s mission, vision and core values and have seen our staff live out the gospel in every circumstance. I am humbled to be a part of MAI and serve alongside Godly men and women.
I (Nicole) was first drawn to sports ministry because of my first exposure to it in Brazil. I truly felt in my heart that I was called to the mission field. Growing up I thought being a missionary meant being overseas. However, I began to realize that a missionary can be anyone, anywhere, anytime using anything. Why not use one of my biggest passions (sports) to share the love of Christ? I love where the Lord has led me and can’t even describe how amazing it is to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. I have been stretched and challenged in many ways but the rewards have far outweighed the tough things. I am so grateful for all the seasons!
We (the Medeiros) decided to serve with MAI as a family in 2016 and have been blessed tremendously. The relationships, miracles, transformation and salvation we have seen are a testament of God’s grace, forgiveness and unconditional love for all of us.
! grew up in Grand Rapids, MI in Christian family. My dad is a women’s college soccer coach and much of my time in my younger ages were spent around his team. I heard the lessons that he taught his team about living for Jesus. I went through high school learning more about God and growing in my faith. After graduating high school I attended Grace College and eventually ended up graduating from Cornerstone University, where I studied sport management. I was a part of the soccer teams at both schools, where I learned a lot about the integration of faith and sport. This eventually led me to the Summer Academy and a desire to to pursue ministry.
How & Why I became a MAI Missionary:
! was lucky enough to be a part of the Chicago Eagles Summer Academy in 2021 and 2022. I joined seeking to experience soccer in a different culture and train for the upcoming college season, while doing so in an environment where I could also grow as a Christian. However, I was surprised to find out that I was drawn to the relationships that were formed and the role of mentorship in younger players’ lives. God has shown me that being a part of the office in Chicago would be the perfect place to impact others with his love, while still being involved in the game that I enjoy so much.
I am originally from Springfield, OH, but attended college in Illinois at Trinity International University.
I finished my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in May 2020. During my time at Trinity, I was a goalkeeper for the women’s team.
Even though I grew up in a Christian home, I didn’t really come to know the Lord personally until high school. I started playing soccer when I was pretty young and that became a huge passion in my life. For me there was school and soccer pretty much everyday, and then Sunday was for church and for time with God. God didn’t really seem to affect the other parts of my life.
By the time I reached high school I was searching for love and acceptance in all the wrong places–in school, in friendships, on the soccer field– and ultimately that left me pretty empty. It wasn’t until I met older girls from my high school team who were believers, that I saw how having a relationship with Jesus made them live differently. They showed me what it looked like to walk faithfully with the Lord in all areas of my life.
When it came time to pick a college I decided that I wanted to attend a Christian university where I would be challenged to grow in my walk with the Lord. It was through my college team that I first heard about MAI and the Chicago Eagles.
I was already experiencing how the game of soccer could be a ministry tool through my college experience, but when I learned about the Chicago Eagles Summer Academy and the opportunity to join other college students for a summer of sharing Christ with others through soccer and coaching kids’ camps, I knew I had to check it out.
I participated in the Chicago Eagles Summer Academy in 2019 and it honestly changed my life. I saw again the beauty of the game of soccer and how it can open doors to sharing the gospel and ministering to those who don’t yet know Jesus. From that summer I ultimately realized the desires that I have to share this love and hope with others, and that this is something I want to spend my life doing.
How & why I became a MAI Missionary?
I was adopted from South Korea as an infant into a Christian family from Central Pennsylvania who taught me to love others and to love Jesus. My parents both worked in the medical field but had a heart for missions which led them to a small island off the North coast of Honduras. While I was there, I saw what it meant to have a love for Jesus and how I could combine my passions for music and soccer. We came home after spending a year there and I continued to foster the growth that started in Honduras by building my relationship with Christ and by playing for more competitive club soccer teams. After graduation, I spent three years studying Youth Pastoral Ministries at Clarks Summit University but decided to transfer to Lancaster Bible College to study Sport Management with a focus in Coaching and Ministry. I played soccer in college for five years and played multiple other spring sports as well but struggled with injuries that kept me from competing. Despite the many changes and setbacks that I faced, my heart for people and soccer has only grown.
How & why I became a MAI missionary:
During my freshman year of college, my soccer coach sent out an email with some opportunities to play with a team over the summer. The Chicago Eagles Summer Academy was one of the options and I was instantly drawn to the idea of competing with other high level athletes, going to Brazil, and doing ministry. In 2021 I was blessed enough to be apart of the Summer Academy and saw how God worked through the game of soccer in people from different cultures and backgrounds. That summer lead me to return to Chicago and be apart of the Summer Academy in 2022. During those two summers, I learned about who I am in Christ and how God can use me to do great things for His kingdom. After spending two summers with the Chicago Eagles I fell in love with the work that they are doing in their communities and want to be part of it.
I was born and raised in Brazil. I play soccer since I was 5. I’ve became a Christina when I was 13, but only at 17 when I had a mentor, I could understand what it really meant. 2 years later, I’ve decided to stop playing to pursue ministry full time. I went to Word of Life Brazil to study Theology and after that I graduated in Physical Education.
My wife Lidia is graduated in Social Communication and passionate about Player Care and Women’s ministry. She has also worked as Media Manager and Creative projects in different organizations and clubs. We have two kids, Ana and Samuel.
After we got married, we’ve served at Word of Life Brazil, working with Camp Ministry for 3 years. But our passion for Sport Ministry kept growing in our hearts. God is so gracious that in. 2012 we’ve had our first experience and it was with Chicago Eagles. After that we’ve served in our local church in Brazil and we’ve lived in Cyprus for 5 years, where I also have coached grassroots soccer and played professional Futsal. Even living far away we had the privilege to spend our summers serving as staff of Chicago Eagles Summer Academy.
How & why I became a MAI missionary:
In 2012 we helped to host Chicago Eagles Summer Academy in Brazil. We had no idea that it would be the first of many tours and summers with Eagles family. We are passionate about soccer, missions and Youth Ministry. So we loved the experience with them. Since 2013 we’ve joined the Summer Academy staff as volunteers and helped in different international tours and trainings in Brazil with Chicago Eagles and MAI. In 2023 we’ve been invited to joins Chicago Eagles full time and started our VISA process, that was approved in May. We have joined Chicago Eagles team officially during our favorite season and program of the year: Summer Academy.
I grew up in Anderson, IN in a pastor’s family. My dad was a youth and missions pastor. This was where the importance of Jesus and missions were taught to me. In Middle School, I started helping with a soccer ministry at our church which I helped lead until I graduated high school. My passion for sports ministry really started to develop while helping with this ministry. After High School I went to Warner University in Lake Wales, Florida where I studied exercise and sports leadership and played soccer. My passion for sports ministry continued to grow in college through leading a sports ministry at my local church.
How & why I became a MAI Missionary
I have known about the Eagles for quite a long time and was fortunate enough to experience firsthand what the Eagles do when I participated in the Summer Academy in 2019.
This is where I really fell in love with what the Eagles were doing and desired to be a part of it in some way. Ever since summer academy, I have stayed in contact with people from the Eagles and once I graduated, I was given the opportunity to come on as a resident for two years. I am super excited about this opportunity and can not wait to see what the Lord teaches me and how he uses me.