I think you are born with baseball in your blood when you are Dominican. Nowhere else do you drive by empty space in a city and find grown men playing baseball mid-morning. Or drive through the countryside full of sugar cane fields only to come around the corner and find a man push mowing an immaculate baseball field with no one else around.
Baseball is the national pastime of the Dominican. It is the hope of every boy, and every boy’s parents. Sadly, it is the basket that all the eggs in some families are put in.
This past week a team of 6 of us spent time with SCORE International at their annual November Baseball Outreach. With Dominicans putting all their eggs into the basket of baseball, a platform to share the gospel has been formed. If you put on a baseball clinic… they will come! And come they did. And they heard the gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ and many will never be the same again! We were privileged to join a group of about 200 folks comprised of current and former Major League players, minor league players, college coaches, high school coaches and folks who just plain love baseball.
In the mornings the wives visited Pasitos de Jesus, a girl’s home, Emanuel House, a school/after school program and Lily House, a home for exploited/at-risk women and their children. We played, listened to stories and served any way we could. It was a joy for those of us who were returning to see children we had met thriving, ministries growing and women’s lives being changed. I am so thankful for the nationals and missionaries serving in these ministries.
Meanwhile, each morning, the men headed out to 4-5 fields all over the area for baseball clinics. Each night we came together and shared about our days. This was not my first baseball trip to the DR, Mike and I came years ago on an FCA Baseball trip where he brought a team of high school guys. Yet, I was floored when a coach from each team shared the number of kids at their site. They were having 100+ kids every morning at each field. As they shared decisions to receive Christ over and over again they were reporting “many” and “half the group.” Blown. Away.
But then there was one group on day 2 that gave their report. The coach smiled as he shared that they had 100+ kids at their field, but no salvations. For a moment, I felt bad for the guy who had to deliver the news. But then he shared this… the Dominican coach at that field was doing what we are all called to do… make disciples. Those kids had not only heard the gospel, but were avid followers of Christ. In a sea of new decisions, it was refreshing to hear that there were coaches making a difference in their towns and villages changing future generations.
It is easy to think that just throwing around a ball, teaching a kid how to field or hit is a fun time, and it is… these kids are so eager to learn. But when you couple the gospel with baseball, God can do great things.
On our last day the ladies joined the guys at the Rawlings Foundation fields at The Highlands. The San Francisco Giants Dominican team plays out of this complex (in fact they had a game against the Dodgers that day). More busses than I could count brought scores of kids from early elementary, to late teens. As the teams got off the buses their coaches lined them up from shortest to tallest and walked them in, so proud of the guys behind them. Hundreds came for a clinic and hundreds heard the gospel. They heard the gospel from guys who had “made it” to the Big Leagues, they heard it from coaches on the field. It was amazing to look out and see the men who all week had been selflessly giving their time and talents do it one more time before getting on a plane. Many accepted Christ that day. Many will go home changed. Many are the new brothers in Christ who we will meet one day. Praise and Glory to God!
The work here is not over. Thankfully there are missionaries who continue the work. Please pray for these folks as life in the DR is not easy. Many of the things we call necessities, they go without. Pray that the Lord would strengthen them spiritually and physically. Pray for protection as they travel the island. Pray that they would not grow weary of doing good. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel, not forgetting to pray for more workers; more harvesters.
He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Matthew 9:37-38
Where is God calling you to go? It may be to the Dominican, Kenya, or across the street. Jesus tells us the fields are ripe for harvest all we need to do is to wake up and look around. Seriously, where is He calling you? Will you go? I promise you there is no better nourishment than doing the will of the Father. We may come home physically tired, but we are most definitely spiritually full.