In 2004, I took my first short-term mission trip to the Dominican Republic. It was an incredible trip that strengthened my relationship with Christ. The people in the DR were extremely hospitable and of course showed me a love for baseball that I never had seen before. The students and teachers from The Wesleyan School and I worked really hard in construction and also loved on the children every moment we could. What I did not know at the time, but now realize, is that God was planting a seed in my heart for something really big in the Dominican Republic.
Four years later in 2008, I felt led to serve again in the DR. This time around God planned something really special for me. During this trip, I befriended a man in a village that happened to be a coach of a high school aged Dominican baseball team. He allowed me and a few other missionaries to participate with his team and give our testimonies. We ended up spending a lot of time with the team and by the end of the week had grown close to the coach. Before we left, the coach, Cesar, told us that he had stopped developing his relationship with Jesus, but now, because of our stories and our intentional love for the Lord, he recommitted his life to Christ. He also decided that he would train his players not only in baseball, but in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was in awe of God’s goodness and was just starting to realize what we can do as believers if we allow God to guide our actions.
Now, flash forward to the summer of 2010. God had been working on my heart for about a year. I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit towards something different than what I was currently doing. I was definitely a little scared. I was currently a teacher and a baseball coach at The Wesleyan School in Norcross, GA. We had just won our third baseball state championship in a row and life was pretty good. My wife Jodi and I had just adopted our two children two years earlier and that capped off our dreams of a house, two kids, dog, two cats and a picket fence (not white). We had planned to spend 10 days in July in the Dominican with FCA Baseball who was leading 100 other short-term missionaries on this trip. I knew deep down that the trip was going to be bigger than the other trips I had taken. My family’s presence with me marked a great opportunity for me to ask God questions each day on the trip. While reading His word and praying with other brothers in Christ, I became really open to the idea of spending my future in the Dominican Republic. It was amazing to see my wife also feel a strong pull to the DR. We were falling more and more in love with Christ and with His plan for us.
Although radical, it was very clear by the time we came back to Georgia, that God wanted our presence in the Dominican Republic. After much prayer and conversations, the Shaheen's made the decision to become missionaries in the Dominican Republic. On October 15th of 2010, I announced my decision to to the Wesleyan baseball community that I will be leaving Wesleyan to lead the FCA Baseball ministry in the DR in June of 2011. My friends and mentors at Wesleyan have been major influences in my faith journey and I am forever indebted to them. I am very excited about what God has in store for us this spring at Wesleyan and the next few years in the DR.
To see the Shaheen family's BLOG, click on http://dominicanfcabaseballministry.com/