Nestor Duque, a Filipino, loved God and loved coaching basketball. But how in the world could these two things ever work together for him, side by side — simultaneously? That was his burning question.
He did not think or understand how he could devote his life to both — and do them both well.
He finally figured it out.
Today Duque, still based in the Philippines, where he has lived his entire life, is working as the Dagupan City area director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), a Kansas City, Missouri-based organization that has spent more than 60 years in faith-based ministry and outreach to athletes, coaches, mentors and others. Duque found he was able to combine two of his greatest loves through this international sports ministry.
“We love when the Lord brings new team members who love God and love sports to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” said Dan Britton, FCA’s executive director of international ministry. “Nestor’s story is one we are blessed and honored to share. We are very optimistic about what he plans to do to impact coaches and athletes for Christ in the Philippines.”
Duque grew up in a religious, traditional family in the Philippines. Blessed with a passionate personality, he tried his hardest to absolutely observe the Ten Commandments. “It was the most difficult month of my life. I just couldn’t do it,” he said. “That broke me to pieces.”
Finally a pastor told him about God’s grace — and that no amount of human, imperfect effort could make one right with God. Duque received Christ’s already finished work on the cross — and poured himself into sharing his newfound freedom.
Duque had long dreamed of being a great basketball coach, but when he started living his life for Christ, he didn’t see how he could do both well. As a high school coach, he wanted to help the school win its first championship more than anything. But he sensed God was asking him to give up his love of coaching — to teach the Good News.
So he turned the reins over to his assistant coach — and that year, the team won its first championship, without Duque at the helm.
“I was happy for him and the history, but deep inside I was very envious,” said Duque.
Yet he sensed it was confirmation from God to leave the coaching to someone else.
A week later, Duque went to a mall, still distraught over the course his life had taken. He happened to glance at a cluster of books sitting in a box outside a store. That’s when he saw a book cover showing a group of athletes huddled together, their arms linked in the air.
He picked up the book. The devotional — “Excellence,” from FCA — talked about combining the love of God with a life in sports. Duque bought the book — and began to sense new possibilities for his life.
Once home, Duque visited the FCA website to learn more about its ministry; he realized his two greatest loves did not have to be separate. “Every time I share this story, I remember the hope it gave me.”
“I want to make sure that players coming in will get to know Christ and be real Christians.”
He contacted some of the executives at FCA — and Britton responded, connecting him with the FCA’s Philippines national director, Gary Visitacion. It was the connection for which Duque had been waiting and hoping. Meanwhile, he dove back into coaching — as a head coach at a university, where his team won two championships. Looking back, Duque likens his own wandering and trials to those of faithful followers of the past.
“I couldn’t help but feel like I was Abraham, that God was telling me, ‘Give up the one thing you truly love,'” he said. “And right when I was about to give it up — He told me, ‘No, you don’t have to.'”
Duque is now concentrating on his work with FCA as the Dagupan City area director in the Philippines and team chaplaincy. He’s the first area director in Dagupan, as FCA’s vision and ministry in that nation continues to grow.
“I want to make sure that players coming in will get to know Christ and be real Christians,” Duque said.
For him, God and coaching were brought together at the teetering point of faith. And now, Duque is determined to live impassioned through the exhilarating freedom he has found. God brought this freedom through a small devotional book from FCA — and it’s part of Duque’s journey he never could have written himself.
“It just gets better and better,” he said, “chapter after chapter.”
FCA is active in 62 countries. For more information about its programs, click here.