Play Ball! Clayton Kershaw and Eric Chavez

The baseball season is a week old, and my beloved Red Sox are not getting any numbers put up in the right column yet.  0-6 start is not what I had in mind.  Aren’t we glad that our favorite team’s success is not the be-all and end-all of our lives.  There are more important things.  It just doesn’t always seem like it.

In any case, here is part two of my series on Major league baseball players and some of the cool things that God is leading them to do.

We continue our trek through the Western divisions of both leagues.  This time, with stops in Los Angeles and Oakland.

I came across a story of LA Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.  He was their opening day starter  this year – the ace of their staff, and has been making a name for himself over the 2+ years that he has been pitching in the majors.  He recently got married and he and his wife are actively supporting an orphanage in Zambia through an organization called “Arise Africa”.  For more on his story, Click here or on his photo to the left.  He spent some time in Zambia at the orphanage that he is supporting, and has vowed to donate $100 / strikeout this year to help them out.

I will also link to arise africa’s blog and Kershaw’s Challenge so you can see for yourself the goals that they have set and the needs that are out there.  I for one will be cheering for lots of strikeouts for Clayton Kershaw.

And speaking of having an impact on the world around us.  I want to draw your attention a little to the north of LA, to the Oakland area.
 I spent 2 years teaching Children’s ministry workshops around the US, and one of the churches we did a workshop both times was Abundant Life Fellowship in Roseville CA.  From this church came an outreach idea that is impacting the lives of young people in many places around the country.  It is an organization called Lord’s Gym.  They started when (from their website)

The Dream began twelve years ago in the heart of Doug Bird, Senior Pastor of  Abundant Life Fellowship in Roseville. When he drove through the city, he didn’t see a place, a safe haven, a youth center where young people could go and hang out. He did not see a place where young people could go and be inspired to live their dreams and achieve their goals.

So the dream was set in motion and a first youth center was opened.

They now have 15 locations around the country, offering youth a place to come, work out, and encounter Christ.

The Oakland A’s have joined in this outreach, promoting it, supporting it and seeing the important place it has in the area.  You can check out some of the promotional videos, etc by clicking here.

One of the faces on the videos, Eric Chavez, is no longer with the team.  He signed on to play with the New York Yankees, but he also is taking an active part in influencing the youth of America through baseball by providing equipment and opportunities to play.  Check out his website here to see what he is all about.

As a Red Sox fan, It is hard for me to cheer for any yankee.  But I think he has a great thing going on here and I support it by letting you know about it too!

Play Ball David Murphy and Brian Wilson

Well, here we go!  Baseball season is upon us and my beloved Red Sox are the talk of the American League with all the changes they made (and money they spent).  It is a long season, but I love the fact that the start is here – another reminder that winter is in the rear view mirror for the next few months. 

This will be the first entry in a series where I will find and share faith stories, encouragement and/or challenges of Christian athletes (specifically Major League Baseball players). 

Sometimes, we need reminders that the people that wear the uniforms and hold their “nation’s” collective hope for success and bragging rights in their hands, are humans too, trying to figure out their way through the adventure of life.  So many people achieve fame and fortune, only to find that these things are not fulfilling.  My goal with these videos and articles that I will link to is to see these men who know that there is more to life than the trappings of the world.  They know that God has gifted them to be pro baseball players, and is asking them to be His witnesses, using the platform their fame provides to tell others about Him. 

First up, we will look at the two league champions that met in last years World Series. 

From the Texas Rangers, I want to share this video from reserve outfielder David Murphy.  I found this quote of his:

“My goal on Earth is not to win a World Series or to be the best baseball player that ever lived. That simply is not up to me because I have to wait and see if it is part of the Lord’s plan. My goal is to follow the Lord and what he wants me to do so that someday I may enter His kingdom and receive everlasting life.”

Check out this video from the World Series press day.

Next, we will look into the other World Series dugout and hear the words of the San Francisco Giants’ eccentric closer Brian Wilson.  His story brings him through tragedy, blaming God, and turning away from Him.  Then, years later, going with a group of other players on his minor league team to talk to their team chaplain.  His life turned around from there and he is living out his faith very publicly. 
Here he is:

He is known for being a little strange (part of what makes him so likeable)  For more on his famous hand gesture (see picture on left) and the meaning behind it, click here.

For more stories from Christian players on the the Giants and Rangers,
click here to go to the CBN news website.

Let these stories encourage you.  Pray for boldness for these men as they live our their faith in the public eye.  And if you have stories or knowledge of Christians on your favorite teams, pass them along to me.  I’d love to hear their stories and share there with others here.  

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