A Ripple Effect
She was a professional basketball player, returning home in the summer to Langley, BC to coach at an AIA basketball camp. She grew up in a Christian home but had seasons where she had distanced herself from God, the most recent being the previous few years. Like many athletes, although she claimed success and victory on the outside there was an internal identity struggle on the inside. Although she had an up tempo, take charge part on the court with the Canadian Senior Women’s National team since in 2005, she was on the fence with her faith. “I knew all about God, would even profess my belief in Him, but I wasn’t living that life.” Just before the AIA camp, during her first stint playing professional basketball overseas Kaela felt her life was in a downward spiral. Partying and bad relationships – all things she was hoping would fill and satisfy this void only opened up more emptiness and pain. “What am I doing with my life?” she asked herself, and decided in that moment that she would begin pursuing Jesus and giving her life back over to Him. She had her “come to Jesus moment”.
That summer would be her first AIA camp, she had a lot to offer, she was a Canadian women’s National team player, a professional overseas– she knew basketball, she knew drills, and how to teach skills, she would impact the kids! At that camp she learned about Christ’s redemption and how everyone can be made new. It was a camp that not only impacted the kids who were attending but a coach who desperately needed to a place to fan into flame the spark that had just been ignited. Kaela was impacted by something more than the game she had played and knew so passionately, she was impacted by Jesus.
“That camp was a turning point; I learned that basketball didn’t need to define who I was. I was more than the points I scored, the games I won, and my performance. I started to learn how I could use sport to glorify God.” It was this new passion and boldness that led this athlete, Kaela Yuen (Chapdelaine), to now impact her teammates – the Senior Women’s Basketball Team. Starting a chapel time for her team– was a good place to start, which is still having a ripple effect today.
Fast forward six years to a former teammate of Kaela’s, playing in the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. “I had a breakout tournament during the Pan Am Games and I really believe it had a lot to do with talking with our chaplain (Dave Klassen) about the whole idea of being free and finding joy again in basketball. That I am good enough and created perfect. You never feel like that, especially in the world of sport where you are constantly critiqued and you can lose a game from a single mistake. It was a whole new thought process for me. I was able to let go and enjoy the game and it has a positive impact on my team.” shared Lizanne Murphy a member of the Senior Women’s National Team and recent double gold medalist at the Pan Am Games and FIBA Americas.
Through the years, Lizanne has learned a lot during pregame chapels. “Kaela brought Dave into our team years ago. Kaela is the one who has helped get me on this journey of faith and continues to be an example.” Murphy has learned that you have to look to more than sport to define you. “Sport is such a finicky thing – on a good day you feel amazing and on a bad day you feel like the scum of the earth. It’s very hard to use sport to define you; you need other things in your life to keep you stable.”
Upon reflecting on how this chapel program has continued 6 years later, Kaela is amazed at how God works. “God used me in the moment. There was a plan in place and it was all Him. I just obeyed. I followed the conviction.”
Athletes in Action is committed to helping young athletes like Kaela be inspired to impact their teams with the love and message of Jesus. Will you obey when God asks you to step out in faith? #goAIA #AIAPanAm #VictoryBeyondCompetition #rippleeffect