Sports Ministry Fall 2019 Update
We are wrapping up our 5th year here in Nicaragua. This past month has been quite tumultuous in many respects but has also been a time to see God provide for new beginnings. I prefer to focus on the latter. For the past couple of months, we have been praying for guidance and wisdom for the ministry. The past four years we have used our league as our main outreach, but it was becoming obvious that it may not be the most effective way due to the vast amount of help one needs to be able to run it. While praying about the ministry one morning the idea of having a baseball “academy” came to my mind. When it came to me, there was a moment of, “Of course, why wouldn’t we do this?” After taking time to pray, think and talk about it corporately, we have decided that this is the best way to take the ministry. Beginning in January we will invite kids who have participated in our league to be a part of the academy. We will be coming up with guidelines and requirements that the kids will need to follow in order to stay in the academy. They will be expected to attend practices, maintain a certain personal discipline, and participate in the weekly Bible study. We do not know exactly what the Bible study will look like. We may stay with having a weekly memory verse that is accompanied with a more in-depth study that everyone would be required to attend. The study would differ depending upon age. The particular theme or verse for the week will be instilled during the practices as well. We believe that having an academy and being able to provide individual focus will be a more effective way to produce growth spiritually, in personal character, and as a baseball player because we will be dealing with less kids. They will be the kids who truly want to take part in what we are doing and who are willing to put in their part. We will look to participate in leagues in our city as well as surrounding cities, and thus try to be a light in other places. We are thrilled to have been able to share the Word with many kids through our own league, but having a league is dependent on too many parts to be able to run it adequately. This is one of the reasons we believe moving to an academy format will be more beneficial because we will find out who truly desires to participate.
There will be at least two coaches who have been with us since the beginning that will be staying on with us, but there is still a need for more help and because of this we have been praying and looking for the right people. With hopes of maybe finding someone from outside of the country to come and take part in what we are doing, we started reaching out to other ministries and contacts. At the end of August, I just began googling and sending emails to any sports ministry or baseball ministry that I found in hopes of being connected to anybody. Out of the many emails sent there were only a few responses and those were to say that they did not know of anyone who could be of help. One day I received an email from a sports ministry in Guatemala whom I didn’t even send an email to, but the email I sent to a random ministry was forwarded to them. They told me of a Nicaraguan, who lives in the capital, that had worked with them and had been running a baseball academy for the past 15 years before it closed last year. I could not believe the resume when I saw it and just thought it was too good to be true. This person had been trained in how to run and operate a sports ministry, trained in how to incorporate the Bible into sports, worked with a ministry running a baseball academy and was a successful baseball coach. It was literally everything we could be looking for. The man was able to come and visit us this past weekend. He feels very good about working with us because he too was praying for God to provide a job where he could get back to doing what he loved. We decided to give it a week or so to continue to pray about it, but it has God written all over it and we give all the glory and honor to Him for providing for His harvest. There was also someone else who responded who has a baseball ministry in another part of Nicaragua. He connected us with the guy who runs his ministry who also came and visited us a couple of weeks ago. The guy has played professionally in Nicaragua and they are very interested in partnering and finding a way to work with us. I personally have been praying for God to send and ex-professional Nicaraguan player for a long time because I think it would be a great example to the kids. We have been blown away and amazed at how God has worked and moved over this past month amid hardships. It gives us a confidence that the direction we are moving is the right one. We ask that you will be praying about these two individuals specifically over the next month and that God will confirm to them what they should do by giving them a peace. We also ask that in general you be asking God to provide workers for His harvest field all over the world just like Jesus commands us to do in Matthew 9:38 because, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
In closing, I would like to encourage you all in something that God has been working with me on. It comes from a teaching I heard on Romans 12:1 which says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” We don’t understand the idea of sacrifices at all. Yet, Jews in Rome would have a much better understanding. A sacrifice was something that once it was given it was gone, that the person didn’t own it anymore and that it now had a holy purpose. Offering our bodies to God correlates to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 which says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” The sacrifice Paul is urging us to make with our bodies is a daily, living sacrifice. This should be our reasonable act of worship to God in light of His mercy to us, which predicates us grasping how vast His mercy is and how much we need it. This necessitates us to understand that our sacrifice or serving is not for others but for God. Often, if you are like me, you can get upset by the response or lack of response of the people you are serving. This more likely stems from us ultimately doing it for the people instead of for the Lord. A pastor, who gave the teaching, named Mike Winger said it best, “If you’re living for the work of the Lord and not the Lord of the work, you’re missing the point.” It is challenging, humbling and convicting to know that God calls me in whatever I do, whether in word or deed, to do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Regardless of how big or small. Whether someone is watching or not. Whether someone acknowledges it or not. Regardless of when or where, I am called to serve Christ daily with my life. It requires a completely different perspective and mindset. One could call it a transformation by the renewing of one’s mind. But, I do know that this is my reasonable act of service to Him who, in His great mercy and love, purchased me with a great price.