Sports Ministry Update
Another season has come and gone. To be honest with you it can feel quite like the movie Groundhog’s Day here. You know what the weather will be like everyday, hot. You get caught up in the same weekly routine. You see the same people in the street doing the same ‘ole stuff everyday. The kids seem to have the same excuses and it feels like I say the same things over and over again to people. But, such is life here.
I wanted to highlight one of our coaches, Orlando from Santa Matilde, to give you all some insight on some of the stuff seen here and how we are trying to make an impact. He started coaching three years ago about half way through our first ever season. He came in not knowing anything about baseball, but with an eagerness to learn and help the children in his community. In his first two years combined he may have won only four games total. Yet, he stuck with it and has been one of, if not the most, faithful of all of our coaches. This year, before the season began, he came to me with a request. He wanted to put two kids who were older than the set ages for his category on his team. These two kids were addicted to sniffing glue and he wanted to give them an avenue to get out of it. Sniffing glue is a common addiction here and is prevalent in Santa Matilde. What people do is fill the bottom of a water bottle with cheap glue and they sniff it frequently throughout the day to experience a high. Being only 12 and 13, one can see the affects that the addiction has taken on these two particular kids as their bodies have not developed as normal kids their age. Orlando, whose team was for 10 and 11 year olds, also had 3 kids who cannot read. One of them being one of the kids he was trying to help. This made it particularly challenging as the kids are required to memorize a Bible verse each week, and some of the verses were more difficult than others. In order for them to be “eligible” to play each week, Orlando would invite them to come over to his house to help them memorize the verse because the kids did not have anybody in their house that could read or did not have anybody in their house that cared to help them. The kids also would receive help from their teammates during practice. Although there were one or two weeks where the kids did not attempt to memorize the verse, given their circumstances they did a good job to try to put forth effort most of the time. It was always a joy to see them come to play on Saturdays as they always had some of the biggest smiles on their faces. As far as his team’s performances, Orlando this year actually was the coach of the coach pitch team and the 10 and 11 year old team from Santa Matilde. His 10 and 11 year old team was by far the most improved team in the entire league. His coach pitch team finished the regular season in second place by winning 10 games and his other team finished in third and won 9. He more than quadrupled his win total over the first two years. It was great to see faithfulness and persistence pay off accompanied with his desire to truly try to change the lives of young people in his community. Even though he would say that winning makes it more fun, the reason he coaches is to help better the kids in his community. We are glad he was able to do both this season!
It is difficult to balance the competitive aspect of having a league. Competition sometimes seems to bring out the worst in people, no matter the age or level of competition. For that, we are extremely grateful to have someone like Orlando and his heart to be a part of what we are doing. We are also grateful that the tragic circumstances that have affected and will continue to affect Nicaragua have not deterred or impacted what we are doing here in Chichigalpa. It has been a travesty and many people have had their lives changed forever, but there is a fear that the worst may be yet to come. A third world country has seen their economic growth severely impacted and the residual effects are sure to be seen in the future. We used parts of Romans 13:1-2 as a Bible memory verse early on the year and it says, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” It is hard to imagine, and easy to forget, that God has established all authority that exists. Where His sovereignty plays into it is not meant for us to understand or even grasp. What we have to do is respect the authority and pray for that person. When we had this verse I told the kids that if God can put someone in authority, He can take them out of it and all we can do is trust and pray. A powerful passage that God showed to me early on that I have been praying over Nicaragua is Psalms 12:5-8, “The Lord replies, ‘I have seen violence done to the helpless and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.’ The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.” I ask that you will join in prayer and ask the Lord to rise up and rescue the oppressed not only in Nicaragua, but around the world.