This is part 5 in my series about Christ-following baseball players. Today, our focus takes us back out to the western divisions of both leagues with stops in Seattle and San Diego.
First stop is with a player in the Seattle Mariners farm system. His name is Matt Tuiasosopo – He is a native of Washington state, drafted by his “hometown” Mariners. He is starting this season at their top minor league affiliate – the Tacoma Rainiers where he has spent parts of the last 3 years.
Matt’s family are all strong Christ followers, who have come to know some success in their sports, and yet managed to do so while living out their strong faith in God and putting their relationship with Him in the forefront of the way they lead their life.
Matt’s father Manu has a Super Bowl Ring (1986 San Francisco 49ers) from his NFL days.
Matt’s brothers Marques and Zach also played in the NFL, and Marques was also drafted in baseball by the Minnesota Twins (Go Twins!)
What struck me about this family though was the list of priorities that they have for their lives. Ask any of the Tuiasosopo children and you’ll get the same answer. In order of priority, their passions are faith, family, friends, school and, lastly, sports.
Click here to read an article about the family.
They understand that making it to the top of your chosen sport is nice. But to live this life looking with hope toward eternity that lies ahead is the best. That is where the relationship you have with God and the impact that relationship will have on others will be evident. This story is about a family that, despite being raised amid professional sports, have managed to get their priorities straight. What a great lesson. They understand the importance of a relationship with God and want to impact the lives of those around them.
The second story that I have for you today is about the San Diego Padres. Heath Bell is the Padres closer, the one who “saves” the game. This story talks about an important save that happened a couple of years ago in his life. That is when he and his wife decided to choose to follow Christ with their life. He is a new believer, and I’ve often wondered, with the travel involved, as well as the celebrity, how possible is it for new believers in baseball circles, or other sports, to grow in their faith and understanding of God? The baseball season stretches from April to October, which is half of the calendar year. Sundays are days of the week that often seen every major league team in action. That means that for half of the year, there isn’t an opportunity to go to church or be part of an community of believers in a faith-building environment. I came across a great organization that saw this need and decided to meet the need.
Baseball Chapel is an organization that has taken on the responsibility of offering chapel services to all major and most minor league teams. They offer Sunday chapel services to anyone who is interested in attentding. Most of the time, they offer 3 separate services – one for each team and one for the umpires. How important is this ministry?! It gives a chance for community and faith building, encouragement, bible study, and spiritual growth. If you want more information about this ministry, click the photo to the left.
And to see one of the baseball chapel staff in action and the players support of this organization, click this link and read the article from Sharing the Victory which talks about Heath Bell, as well as Adrian Gonzalez (now with my beloved Red Sox), Chase Headley, and Nick Hundley.
I know that I for one will be praying for this ministry as it seeks to pour into these athletes and encourage them in their faith. As I mentioned earlier, Heath Bell is a new believer, and to know that there is an organization that is there to teach, disciple and encourage new believers like him shows that pro sports is a mission field and God’s people are going into the world and making these disciples.
Keep up the great work Baseball chapel!