Touching Lives Through Soccer

When BJ Rudge was a young man he was passionate about soccer and his dream was to become a professional soccer player. Although the Lord took his life in another direction (see his book, Faith Through The Fire), He didn’t take away his passion for soccer and has used it to impact many lives. In addition to his ministry and teaching responsibilities, BJ is a high school soccer, and Upward Soccer coach. Because of BJ’s obedience, and the Lord’s faithfulness, not only is BJ involved in a game he loves but many lives are being impacted because of it.

BJ also trained his nephew, Carson (pictured in poster at right), who has competed in many national soccer tournaments on various teams.

 

 

 

Congratulations to head coach BJ Rudge (center back), his coaching staff, and the Hickory High School girls’ varsity soccer team for a great season and being Region Champs six years in a row, District 10 champs, and making it all the way to the state semi-finals.

 

 

 

BJ Rudge (age 16) with Haitian boys to whom he gave this soccer ball. A few days later these boys saved the lives of BJ, Bill, and several BRM team members surrounded by angry voodoo participants.

Soccer is a universal language and if you have a soccer ball you have an opportunity to communicate and touch lives.

 

 

 

 

BJ (holding soccer ball) and Peter (director of an orphanage in Haiti) speak to youth and parents at Upward Soccer at First Assembly of God in Hermitage. First Assembly donated a large box of soccer balls and air pumps for Peter's orphanage. Chaplain Bruce Miller, a friend of Bill's, delivered the box to the orphanage. The youth received them with great joy.

 

 

Festus Banks, Founder and President of the Karen Rudge Foundation for Children and Teens in Liberia, wrote to the Bill Rudge Ministries (BRM) requesting clothes and shoes for the children. In the U.S., first grade students at Artman Elementary School in Hermitage listened intently as high school soccer coach BJ Rudge addressed them during Career Day. Rudge told them not only about soccer but also that he teaches his soccer players about “giving back.” To illustrate this message, he had the first graders participate by signing the soccer balls that BRM was sending to the Foundation in Liberia. The balls and jerseys were contributed for the children from the Shenango Valley Soccer Club and Hermitage Soccer Boosters. The youth of the Karen Rudge Foundation in Liberia were thrilled as they wore their new jerseys and used their new soccer balls. 

 

 

Following a devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, BJ sent several soccer balls while his sister Tabitha coordinated the Run for Haiti to raise funds for earthquake relief. BJ spoke during a school assembly for kindergarten classes. Since his daughter was in kindergarten, her teacher asked BJ to share what he did as the high school girls’ soccer coach. In connection with this, he had the kindergarten kids, as well as members of the soccer program, sign soccer balls for Haiti. The Bill Rudge Ministries sent them to Mission Possible in Haiti for distribution.

 

 

These Haitian students loved the new soccer balls they received from Bill Rudge Ministries. They no longer have to use rolled up rags or old deflated soccer balls to play their favorite game.

 

U.S. Senator Congratulates BJ

Coach Rudge, I want to offer you and your team my warmest congratulations on receiving the Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. This recognition speaks to the high regard in which you and the Hickory High School Girls Soccer Team are held by your peers. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor and wonderful acknowledgment of your hard work, commitment and leadership.

Robert P. Casey, Jr., U.S. Senator, Washington, D.C.
More Than Soccer

I have read the literature you sent and been blessed, especially by Faith Through the Fire. God had planned for BJ more than soccer, though he had much talent. In God’s Word it is written that all things work together for good.... (Romans 8:28) and now BJ is in the ministries God placed him and the Gospel is being preached wherever God leads him. Thank God for his and your ministry. 

Pastor R. M., India
BJ’s Story Touches Young Adult in Germany

I just read BJ’s story, Faith Through the Fire, and was really touched and impressed. My two brothers and dad also LOVE soccer and sports in general. So, when I read the book with BJ’s remarkable story, I could really understand how it all must have been for him.

S.G., Germany
Olympic Development Program

Thank you for coming to preach God’s Word. Following the Lord is better than going the ways of the world. Also, thank you very much for giving me the book about your testimony. I was so excited to hear you were on the Olympic Development Program team like me. Your book, Faith Through the Fire, really pushed me for God. When I was reading it, I felt so amazed how God has shaped your life through soccer. My favorite line in the book is, “Out of the ashes of our dreams, God performs His will.” Sincerely,

K
Haitian Remembers BJ

BJ, I continue to remember you and our friendship that started a long time ago. Thank you so much for being a good model of what a missionary is. I will always remember all the ways you helped me as a teenager and spending time together, doing ministry and playing soccer. Thank you so much for everything. 

E. E., Haiti
The President of Mission Possible Writes

Thank you so much for sending the soccer balls for our students in Haiti. The Haitian kids love to play soccer. It’s the country’s most popular sport. Many times the kids do not have good soccer balls. Instead, we regularly see them use substitutes such as rolled up rags, balls of tape, plastic bottles, and old deflated soccer balls. I assure you the soccer balls you sent will bring many, many hours of fun and exercise for hundreds of kids. May God bless you for your sacrifice and desire to help others less fortunate.

Kurt Bishop

5th Grade Student Donates to Orphanage in Haiti

BJ, This year, my 5th grade teacher requested that instead of getting her a Christmas gift, a donation would be made in her name to a charity. I would like to donate $20 to the orphanage in Haiti you donated soccer balls to. Maybe they can use it for another ball or soccer supplies. Thank you,

Jared

Truly an inspiration

You have truly been an inspiration to me and have had a big impact on my life. You never gave up on me and always pushed me to reach my full potential. You believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. You not only helped me, but you helped my mom through a very rough time in both of our lives. You have done so much for me and it has meant a lot. 

C
"Faith Through the Fire" helped me through surgery

“Throughout my life, I have played sports and have experienced many different coaches. However, there is one coach who stands out and has had the greatest impact and influence on me: Coach BJ Rudge. BJ always had a way of getting me prepared for games by encouraging me to think of something that inspired me to play. He read Bible verses that helped me connect with what was going on in a practice or game. He helped me stay close with my faith, even on the soccer field. My sophomore year I tore my ACL in a basketball game and I missed an entire year of soccer. That was one of the hardest things for me having to go to the practices and games knowing I couldn’t play. After my surgery I received BJ’s book Faith Through the Fire which tells his powerful story of his journey with multiple injuries, including tearing his ACL multiple times. His story brought comfort, support, and hope that I would recover fully and to my strongest potential. This helped me mentally with the injury. BJ was not only a great coach but a great speaker. BJ is my most inspirational coach not only for how he acted and handled himself, but how he always put people first.” 

J.W.
My high school coach was very influential for me

“My high school coach was very influential for me. He is a strong Christian and I admire that about him. I try to live my life the way God would want me to and he was a great role model for me. I felt like he always had my best interest at heart. When I was injured he cared about me. He expected us to work hard but we knew that he cared about us and wanted us to be successful not only in soccer but in life.”  

A. M.
Soccer has impacted my life in more ways than I can count

“Soccer has impacted my life in more ways than I can count ... valuable lessons that I will cherish forever. My coaches, especially my varsity coach BJ Rudge, made me step out of my comfort zone and gain confidence. He taught me that you have to step out of your comfort zone to succeed and to never give up.”   

R.M.
Words can not truly express how much you have inspired me

Words can not truly express how much you have inspired me and impacted my life over the past four years. Your knowledge and experiences with soccer have taught me so much about the game but you also have taught me so many life lessons that I will never forget. I have taken the confidence and leadership skills I gained through soccer and applied them to every aspect of my life. I am an all-around better person because of what I learned at soccer and I owe that all to you. Thank you for coming to see my dad in the hospital. That was very considerate and I know he really appreciated it, as did the rest of us! Even to this day, the relationship I had with you as a coach and player has been one of my most cherished because you have taught me so many great lessons about soccer and about life. 

D.S.
There is no one I want around my daughter more than you.

I know each year you give many hours away from your wife and little ones to teach soccer. I can only hope that somehow I can keep you around for at least three more years. There isn’t anyone I want around my daughter more than you. Soccer ability is only one asset you bring to the table. Thanks for everything!

P.D.
My most influential coach

My most influential coach without a doubt would be BJ Rudge. BJ taught me so much more than just soccer. His inspirational talks and biblical references made me want to be a better person and form a stronger relationship with God! Even though he had his own life, family, and day job to worry about, he still cared about us so much and put his heart and soul into his coaching. Because of BJ, I am better at soccer, I’m a more confident person, I’ve grown in my faith, and I’m prepared for the real world! I hold him in the highest respect. Thank you, BJ.

C. L.
Such an impact on me as a coach

Without your encouraging words, love, and guidance this season, I wouldn’t have gotten this far. You not only improved my game, you showed me a new door to God and life that has never been opened to me before. Thank you. So I want you to remember something: every time I’m down or think I can’t do it, you’re the one I think of. I don’t think you will ever truly understand the impact you’ve had on me as a coach. Again, thank you so much.

N.H.
The greatest influence on my life

When asked who has had the most influence on you, a large majority of people would say their parents. Now I am not saying that mine have not been terrific sideline supporters during my life, because they have, but the one single person who has had the greatest influence on my life would be my soccer coach, BJ Rudge. After spending four years working with him, in some of the most challenging situations I have faced thus far, I can’t think of anyone else who has influenced me more than he has.

Earlier this season, my coach sat down and talked with me. After our conversation was over, I realized that he had hit on the head, every single doubt, restriction, confinement, and insecurity I had about myself. I was awe struck that someone I had previously regarded as the person who was simply there to win us a game or make us run laps if we lost, could read my personality like an open book. Ever since that night, I have taken those words and used them to make myself into a better person. I have stepped out of my comfort zone, put my trust into the hands of God, and I am on my way to becoming all that I was meant to be.

You have to understand, my coach does more than just teach us about the game and correct the mistakes we make; his ultimate goal in life is to see us become the best we can be. BJ wants us to know that we all have a purpose in life, even bigger than our purpose on the field. Tom Landry said, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.” BJ exemplifies each of those truths to the maximum. He never lets me give less than one hundred percent, he holds me to the convictions I set for myself. BJ pushes me to be all I can be, and that is something that will influence me for the rest of my life. 

A.W.
Isaiah 41:30 "my" verse

After having a few difficult practices and games you gave me a verse, Isaiah 41:30. You told me this was “my” verse. Oddly enough I had just read over that verse in my car moments prior to you giving me this. It truly is “my” verse. That same day you gave me Faith Through the Fire written by your father. I read nonstop; I couldn’t put it down. I had a brief understanding about your soccer career but now I understand it more than ever. I recall after our talk about my verse and such, I said to you, “What did you do when God took your everything, soccer, away from you?” You simply said, “Read the book my father wrote.” While reading, I became speechless. The amount of faith you had when God took soccer away was such an inspiration. After reading this book, I realized exactly why I play, for His glory. I love what I feel when I play soccer for God. I understand now where your passion for soccer comes from and why you strive to make us the best we can be. So thank you for this book, thank you for your stories, and thank you for your inspiration. God has given you a gift to inspire youth and you do such a brilliant job. Always remember how much of an impact you make on your athletes’ hearts; it’s more than you could imag

E. B.
Have had many coaches - Only one stands out above the rest

“Throughout my life, I have played sports and have experienced many different coaches. However, there is one coach who stands out and has had the greatest impact and influence on me. Coach BJ Rudge. BJ always had a way of getting me prepared for games by encouraging me to think of something that inspired me to play. He read Bible verses that helped me connect with what was going on in a practice or game. He helped me stay close with my faith, even on the soccer field. My sophomore year I tore my ACL in a basketball game and I missed an entire year of soccer. That was one of the hardest things for me having to go to the practices and games knowing I couldn’t play. After my surgery I received BJ’s book Faith through the Fire which tells his powerful story of his journey with multiple injuries, including tearing his ACL multiple times. His story brought comfort, support, and hope that I would recover fully and to my strongest potential. This helped me mentally with the injury. BJ was not only a great coach but a great speaker. BJ is my most inspirational coach not only for how he acted and handled himself, but how he always put people first.” 

J
My high school coach was very influential for me

“My high school coach was very influential for me. He is a strong Christian and I admire that about him. I try to live my life the way God would want me to and he was a great role model for me. I felt like he always had my best interest at heart. When I was injured he cared about me. He expected us to work hard but we knew that he cared about us and wanted us to be successful not only in soccer but in life.” 

A
Soccer has impacted my life

“Soccer has impacted my life in more ways than I can count ... valuable lessons that I will cherish forever. My coaches, especially my varsity coach BJ Rudge, made me step out of my comfort zone and gain confidence. He taught me that you have to step out of your comfort zone to succeed and to never give up."

R