Sunday, July 24, 2011

A mission trip or a life on mission?

To all who have just returned home from what they perceive as a life changing mission trip to the Dominican Republic and are ready to make a difference by beginning to live life differently, here's your challenge.

"But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourself. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in the mirror; for he goes away and right away forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts-this person will be blessed in what he does" - James 1:22-25

Many of you over the past week or two, as you have changed your place and changed your pace, have heard the voice of God and have had your perspective changed. You're back home and now your challenge begins. Will you have the faith and the courage to live out what you heard God telling you? Will you be a "doer" of His word and be blessed or will you come home, allow yourself to get caught right back up into your old way of life and be a "forgetful hearer"? Hearing Gods truth is only part of the's the easy part. Applying it in your life is more difficult because it very often requires sacrifice. However THAT is where the blessings lie. Unapplied truth is just like unapplied paint. It doesn't do anyone any good. The value is in the application.

Pray for strength. Pray for the wisdom to know what to do with what you heard while you were in the DR. Be a doer, not just a hearer and be blessed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Simply amazed how God chooses to use us in His plan

So...we are now on the backend of week number two.  My family and I have been here now for 12 days and we have had 124 coaches, players and parents form all across the eastern part of the U.S join us here thus far. As I sit here trying to think of where to begin and what to share with you, my mind is overwhelmed. There is SO much God has done and is doing that I want to share, but it's just too much right now. Therefore, in effort to be as concise as possible, let me just share with you what yesterday looked like....just ONE DAY.

* We purchased and delivered food to feed 120 people for a period of 4-5 days in a village we have visited 3 times over the past 10 days. The head baseball coach of this village, Coach July Bozo, gave his life to Christ when we visited him and shared the gospel with him last week.  FCA has officially "adopted" this village and these people and we will continue with weekly ongoing ministry and discipleship through our on the ground staff, Mike Shaheen.  We shared the gospel with the entire village yesterday (over 400 people) and had well over 20 people give their life to Christ.

* Two baseball teams and one softball team spread out and traveled to separate villages to compete against Dominican teams and evangelize.  One of our teams was invited to play on the Dominican Air Force base against their national team.  We were greeted by a marching band along with the general and chief of command of the entire Dominican military. Although we lost the game 5-0 and were "no hit", I was blessed to have the opportunity to share the gospel with the general, members of his staff, and all the members of the coaching staff and the players.  Praise God that 35 people made a decision to give their life to Christ. Results from the other 2 teams were similar and God has opened doors for ongoing ministry through all three of the coaching staffs and players of these teams as well as with high ranking government officials.

* After dinner, we took our entire crew of 65 on a five block walk to the ocean where we baptized 15 young men, young women and coaches from our group who wanted to take the next step in their faith journey by professing publicly that Jesus Christ was their personal Lord & Savior and celebrate their new birth.  Also among that group was one very special Dominican 15 year old boy who has befriended and become very close with my 15 year old son Nick over the past year.  An incredible ending to another amazing day here in the DR...probably the most powerful day that I have spent here in the last 3 years.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Perfect Timing

Week number one here has just come to a close and 57 people comprised of middle school baseball coaches, middle school baseball players and some parents are returning back to Atlanta forever changed. At 12:30am this morning, a brand New group of 65 high school baseball players, softball players, coaches and parents arrived safe and sound. We all visited a church in San Pedro this morning and now everyone is at our FCA Baseball facility in Boca Chica on the practice field. Everyone is tired and ruining on fumes from the late arrival last night, however at the same time they are all marveled at what they have already seen and experienced thus far.

I have over 1300 pictures from this past week alone and testimonies of God's work in the hearts of each and every person who joined us here for the last 7 days.  I will post those picture on a photo sharing site as soon as I can, however I want to share a personal story of mine here to illustrate how God's perfect timing and His perfect plan.

Many of you know my story of how God used Julio Franco to radically change my life and lead me back to Him four years ago.  I have reached out to Julio SEVERAL times over the past 4 years via text message, phone call, email and have actually had a hand written letter delivered to him.  I wanted him to know how God used his simple act of obedience on January 22nd of 2008 as he shared the gospel at an FCA event that I attended to forever change my life, the lives of my wife and children and through my story, thousands of  others for His Kingdom.  Julio has never responded back to any of my attempts.  However it never bothered me because I knew in my heart that he and I would connect one day when God wanted it to happen.

Yesterday morning I accompanied one of our baseball teams to the village of Consuella, just outside of San Pedro, to compete against their village team.  It's the village that Julio Franco was born in and grew up in.  When I stepped onto the field I saw one young man taking ground balls at 3rd base.  My interpreter told me It was Josh Franco a rising junior in high school and Julio Franco's son. I had the opportunity to speak with Josh for a while and he told me that he and his family had moved back to the DR for a year so that he could train here, avoid the Major League Baseball draft system and sign here in the Dominican.  Josh told me that his dad would be out on the field in about 30 minutes.  Imagine how I felt at that point.

God's ordained timing, just as it always is, was perfect.  Julio and I got to spend close to 3 hours together talking about life and our love for Jesus. The morning climaxed with me sitting on a bucket and sharing the gospel with the team he is training here and on the very same field that Julio  played baseball on as a boy.  All the while, Julio stood behind me and translated.  Eight high school aged young men responded by giving their life to Christ.  Julio had a smile on his face that was priceless. Personally...I was (and still am) in awe of how the God of the universe chooses to orchestrate His plan.

This story is just one of many that have been experienced here over the past week.  We have 76 high school coaches and athletes arriving here tonight who at this point have NO idea as to how God is prepared to move in their lives if they will "be still and know that He is God".  Please pray for well as for my family and I as we head into week # 2 here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Incredible Bleesings in the Dominican Republic.

I have found wireless access!! What a whirlwind these past few days have been. Where to begin. We all spent Sunday morning worshipping our God with our Dominican brothers and sisters in a Church in Santo Domingo, pastored by my good friend Pastor Abi. All 57 of us were greated with open arms by the people with the church who live in the surrounding sugarcane villages of San Pedro. We worshipped God in both Spanish and English and heard a wonderful message from Pastor Abi about bcearing Kingdom. I believe that I can say that without exception, all in our group were impacted as they realized that regardless of where we find ourselves in this world, there is but one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God the Father-Ephesians 4:4-6.

After church, we returned to our humble abode at the SCORE missionary training center and had lunch, suited up in our uniforms and then headed out to the Highlands complex (our FCA home in the Dominican) and practiced on the fields where the Sanfrancisco Giants train. Then, dinner, devotions and small group sessions with the coaches and players after dinner and everyone crashed.

Yesterday was an amazing day. It was the first time that everyone got out of their "comfort zone" as we traveled to a couple different villages to compete on field against some very good Dominican teams. The look of shock on everyone's faces as we pulled into the villages and first layer eyes on the fields was something else. For the next 3 hours, each team competed against young men of their age who were from an entirely different culture and spoke a language they could not understand. But they were united by the game that thcey were all passionate about. There were at least 100-125 spectators at each game from the surrounding villages watching us play. The parents and siblings of our ball players spent some amazing time with the children of those villages while the games were taking place. WAY too many details to share in the blog, however God was glorified!

More of the same this morning and we will visit orphanages this afternoon. Please keep praying forv us and for the message of Jesus Christ to take hold through revival here in the villages and communities where we are ministering. I will communicate again as soon as possible. We have over 700 amazing pictures thus far, however the connection here is still to slow to upload them to the blog. Guess you'll have to way til we return tonsee them...sorry.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In the DR safe, sound and blessed!

Hey everybody...all is well. This is the first opportunity that the Internet has been working and it is very spotty right now at best. I just wanted to let everyone back home know that we are here and all is well. Pictures speak for themselves...God bless all of you and I will try to post again very soon.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ready to go!

Ok...the bags are packed and we are prayed up. God is in control and I wait in anticipation for how He will move in the hearts of all those who have been called to this mission. I will post to this blog with pictures and updates as often as I can. We covet and appreciate your prayers.