Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Faith, Hope & Rejoicing in our Afflictions

So before we even get started, I want to start off by saying that although I truly hope that you are blessed by this story, I confess that I am writing this for me. It's about me praising God for all that He has done and continues to do in and through my life and the lives of those I love. About how incredibly blessed I am to be able to do what I do and by the people that He puts in my path.

I have loved the game of baseball from the time that I was a 7 year old boy. I dreamed, as many boys do, of someday playing professional baseball...maybe even for my home town team...The Chicago Cubs. Well, as I got older and realized that the "talent"?..that God gave me to play baseball didn't actually stand up so well against most of the other guys on my high school team, my dream of playing pro-ball died quicker than the vines on the outfield wall at Wrigly field in October. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think that 40 years later I would be involved with the game as I am now. That God actually instilled the love of the game in me for a purpose much higher than for my own personal enjoyment. But...that's how God does things. He places things, situations, circumstances and people in our lives that we often overlook and take for granted...not really thinking about the purpose or what effect it may have on our lives months or years down the road.

I have been abundantly blessed over the past week as God has once again used the game of baseball to bring His people together and for His glory by placing a 13 year old boy (yes, a baseball player) and his family in my path. The boys name is LS Goe..LS is short for Lee Samuel, named after his dad. LS has only been playing baseball for a short period of time, but he loves the game. Baseball just recently became a part of his life because he lost the passion that he once had for Motorcross racing, somthing that he has done since he was a little boy. Maybe the many different injuries and broken bones had somthing to do with him dropping motorcross for baseball, however the point is that it is baseball that God used to have our paths cross.

I was introduced to LS and his parents Stacey & Lee by my friend and fellow FCA Baseball ministry associate Matt Pritchett. In addition to being on staff with FCA Baseball, Matt is a professional hitting instructor and has been giving hitting instruction to LS now for a few months. In an attempt to keep a potentially very long story as short as possible, I will get right to the facts. LS woke up on Monday morning Nov 30th complaining of a toothache and was taken to the dentist by his mother Stacey. Stacey and LS were first put on alarm when they were informed by the dentist that he "didn't like some of the things he saw" and that Stacey should take LS to Scottish Rite Hospital for some evaluations. Once at Scottish Rite, the tests were done and the results came back. LS had leukemia. BAM! In the blink of an eye, everything changed.

Life changed a little bit for LS on Monday November 30th, however his journey really started back on September 13th when he experienced a much more radical change in his life. On that day, LS met Jesus at the Forsyth Family Funfest in Cumming, GA. Yep, you read that correctly....while attending this event that featured different praise and worship bands and speakers, LS responded to the Gospel presentation by Will Graham that evening by accepting Christ into his heart as his Lord and Savior. I believe that God started preparing LS for what was to come on that very day. Shortly after giving his life to Christ, LS became involved with the FCA huddle at Liberty Middle School in Cumming and has been reading his Bible.
Over the past few days, I have been able to spend some time with LS and his parents, who are also followers of Christ. And it is by watching how Lee, Stacy & LS have dealt with the circumstances that they now find themselves in that I have been so blessed. A diagnosis of leukemia in a young boy causes our lives to start spinning out of control and we feel helpless. But the upside is that it also causes us to seek God with an intensity that cannot be manufactured in any other way. It has a way of driving us to our knees. And that is why the bad things that happen to us can turn into the BEST things that happen to us. We can't control what happens to us, but we can control our response. The response from the Goe family has been one of complete trust in Him who can do more than we can ever imagine. It has been a testimony of complete faith in Christ...the kind of faith that we all long for. The kind of faith that gives us peace that surpasses all understanding.

Since LS's diagnosis, there has been a tremendous outpouring of prayer. There have been countless testimonies by people who either know LS or know of him who have been drawn closer to the Lord through this trial. Close to 1600 people have responded on his facebook page. Read some of the posts here and see how God is using LS to impact the lives of many....and LS knows it! And that gives him peace! How will this story end? Only God knows, however in my heart, I believe that God plans to use LS in a mighty way and that this is only the beginning. Romans 5:3 says "There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we are hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next" (msg).

LS was released from the hospital today after being there for 10 days. He has received chemotherapy daily for over a week now and his treatment will continue for the next couple years. His prognosis is encouraging...the doctors anticipate a complete 100% remission. All the Glory to God. I urge you to lift up LS and his family whenever you think of them.

Friday, October 30, 2009

In Reach, Then Out Reach

FCA Baseball focuses on both mentoring their own players and ministering to others.
Oct. 26, 2009

Two years ago, Bob Wiedemann started coaching an FCA Baseball team of middle school boys in Atlanta. At the time, two of the 12 team members were Christians. The team played about 45 games in the spring, and then did the same in spring 2009.

Now, of those same 12 boys, all of them have accepted Christ on the baseball field. In Wiedemann's words, it has gone from "inreach" to "outreach," as the team now travels throughout metro Atlanta and the rest of Georgia in an effort to not only grow as a team, but also impact others.

FCA Baseball teams join other teams and umpires in prayer before or after games.

"We have prayer prior to, during or after every ballgame with the opposing teams, inviting them to join, inviting the umpires to join as well," Wiedemann said. "When we travel throughout metro Atlanta, we fly the FCA banner. We've got FCA on our jerseys, on our helmets, so everybody knows who we are and what we stand for. They're paying close attention to us."

Wiedemann said it's very rare to play a game and not have an opposing coach, player or parent question someone on his team about their beliefs. This team ministry started in 2007 with five teams, but it has expanded to 15 today. The age groups range from 10 to 14, and the only requirement is that the head coach is a dedicated Christian.

All of the teams take a seasonal approach, so they stay together for a minimum of a full season. The advantage, Wiedemann said, is it takes multiple seasons to establish a true sense of community within the team.

"We can really, really get some depth into the ministry in that type of situation, which is really the advantage of team ministry," he said. "It takes a full season for it to really sink in. In season two it starts to go into the home, you start seeing some questions and things from parents. Coming into season three, it's pretty unreal what's going on."

Each team is required to do community service at least three times during the season. This involves going to homeless shelters, local food banks –– it really depends on the age of the kids. Every athlete and every coach on every team is resourced with an Athlete's Bible, meaning more than 650 people have received Bibles in the past two years.

The main benefit of the team ministry, though, is that it's reaching an area of the community previously uninvolved with FCA.

"This is a community ministry as opposed to an on-campus ministry," Wiedemann said. "It's just an alternative to the campus ministry that's currently being done. There are literally thousands upon thousands of kids playing community sports who aren't being touched, and this is a tremendous way to reach them."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant...

On Saturday October 3rd, a delegation of FCA Baseball & Softball Coaches, players, parents and siblings in partnership with a group from Diamond Starz Academy in Douglasville spent the day showing the love of Christ to the many who are suffering in the wake of the recent floods in metro Atlanta. In addition to many hours of physical labor clearing out the interiors of homes that were devastated, we were able to provide several truckloads of supplies (clothing, toiletries, food, water, etc.), much prayer and hope. We were all truly blessed as we had the opportunity to bless others.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life--a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Friday, October 2, 2009

FCA Baseball in the inner city of Atlanta

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to share the ministry of FCA Baseball with and then pray for the athletes and coaches of L.E.A.D.(Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct). This organization was founded by Atlanta native and former Chicago Cubs outfielder, C.J. Stewart. Understanding the plight of the inner city player as it relates to playing baseball at the college level, Stewart started L.E.A.D. to make collegiate baseball opportunities accesible and affordable to inner city youth. "The reason why there is a less than 3% representation of blacks at the NCAA level is because inner city players (who are predominately black) can't afford to access the development, exposure and consulting resources necessary to showcase their skills to college programs. At this point in time, it has nothing to do with racism. Danny Hall (Georgia Tech) would sign a green martian if he could demonstrate that he could make meaningful contributions to the program. The barriers are access and affordability- no more, no less." - C.J. Stewart, Founder L.E.A.D., Inc.

The ministry of FCA Baseball has been given a vision to come alongside C.J., his staff and his volunteers to help expand the L.E.A.D. program as well as be an active participant in the growth and development of baseball throughout the inner city of Atlanta.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dominican Republic Day 5

Hello friends and family! It is the end of a great day five. Today we woke up early again and both teams played games in Santo Domingo. We shared the gospel again today and Coach Wiedemann estimates that over a hundred people have come to know Jesus Christ this week including four players from our group. After the games the teams met together for lunch and then went to the straw market to look around for a few souvenirs. From there we headed to Casa de Luz orphanage for an eye opening experience. It is hard to put into words what this was like for the players and adults alike, but hopefully the pictures will tell the story. We came back to SCORE for dinner and then devotions. After devotions, two of the boys on our team who decided to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior were baptized in the swimming pool. This was truly a unique and overwhelming experience for all who were there. It has been a great day and a great week. God has changed lives,opened eyes and opened hearts. Tomorrow we head out for a day of relaxation on Catalina Island. There we will be snorkeling and hanging out on the beach for our last day in the Dominican Republic. Hope you have enjoyed the blog and pictures and I encourage you to leave any comments!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dominican Republic Day 4

Hello friends and family! Today we headed out early for games and had a great time playing and meeting some new people. After the games we came back for lunch and then headed out to the grocery store to purchase food for a local village. The money was raised by our kids and the food we purchased is enough to feed 40 families for a week. The village was a great time and a blessing once again and we are back at SCORE about to go to bed. More soon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dominican Republic Day 3

Hello friends and family! It is the end of a great day three! We all had a another great day of sharing the gospel and playing baseball. This morning we woke up and went to an all boys orphanage. There we played wiffle-ball, soccer, and basketball with the boys. Everyone had a great time! After we left the orphanage we came back to the SCORE headquarters and grabbed some lunch and then set out to play another round of games. The facilities were very nice. The guys got to play right next to the field where the Washington Nationals were holding tryouts! The boys played hard and one of the teams won and one lost, but the day was great! After the game we came back and got dinner and cleaned up for devotions. The boys are relaxing right now out on the patio watching baseball and we will be heading to bed soon!

Hope you are enjoying the blog and pictures so far! Please keep checking in and leave some comments!