It is hard to put into words the impact that I have seen today through God’s word, Justin’s life and these young men who wear the Ambassador uniform. Everywhere we go, people stop and ask us who we are and what we are doing. As the Lord continues to give us the opportunity to share the message of Christ through our baseball story, it continues to amaze me how the Holy Spirit gently moves the heart of all those who listen. This experience in the Dominican is no different when it comes to the impact of the Ambassadors.
Yesterday, all started with breakfast at 6:30 a.m. A.D. told our boys that he is not their mama so it was up to them to get up and be on time and all the guys made it to the bus bright eyed and bushy tailed.
Well, that may have been a little exaggeration but everyone did make it to the bus.
From the beginning of this ministry, the Lord led us to end the summer with an international experience. As I watch these guys interact on and off the baseball field this week, it is evident why God continues to lead us down this road. With every passing moment, the Holy Spirit continues to grow the spiritual life of these boys while He gives them a clearer vision for the world. This experience with the Ambassadors is so very special and the impact of this ministry is evident in so many ways.
Since every good preacher always has three points and I am trying to be a good preacher I am going to highlight three points of impact through our experience so far.
1. Today, God has shown me the impact of the past.
It has been amazing this week to watch Ramon Perez continue to grow as an Ambassador and reach out to the people of his country. Many of you may not know about Ramon. He played for the Ambassadors in 2010 and 2011. He came to us from the Dominican and during the first year, he gave his heart to Christ and began to grow a vision for God’s plan for his life. He is currently a 21 year old college student and will finish his last year of college baseball in Missouri. This is the second year for Ramon taking the lead and planning all the details for this trip. We are so very proud of him and continue to be amazed at the long-term impact this ministry has on our players. Last night in our share time, Coach Savedra took the time to share how being a part of this team is kind of like a life-long fraternity that develops a bond between every player who has ever donned the Ambassador uniform. This week, we are blessed to not only have Ramon but also Nick Pinkerton who played in 2009 and 2010. Last night, both of these guys eloquently articulated the continued impact the Ambassadors have in their lives. For all the parents back at home, I realize it has been a step of faith for each one of you to allow your boys to play for us. I want you to know that these days they are spending with the Ambassadors are shaping their future, strengthening their lives and impacting their lives to follow Jesus for the rest of their days. I have to say today that I am so very proud of Ramon and am amazed to watch him serve the Lord and use the Ambassadors to share Christ with his hometown of Santiago Dominican Republic. The impact of the past evident in the lives of both Nick and Ramon gives me great hope and anticipation to see the long-term effect in the lives of our 2013 baseball players.
2. Impact on the present.
A second impact so clearly evident is the way God is using this team to share the gospel on and off the baseball field. Last night, we won our second game in the Dominican. We played a well-known team here in Santiago called Tranquilo. Seth Swaim was our starting pitcher and his first international start was spectacular. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and was out of gas after a strong showing. With bases loaded, one out and a 7-1 lead, Kade Hayes came into finish them off. Even though a runner on 1st tried to steal Lane Smith’s glove in the middle of a play, Lane managed to keep his glove and we managed to win the game 12-6. With that win, the 2013 Ambassadors have tied the record for greatest winning percentage of any Ambassador team. Being true to form, the Ambassadors gathered with their opponents and through an interpreter faithfully and effectively shared the gospel with the entire Tranquilo organization. There is nothing like watching the faces of these young men as they listen to the Holy Spirit through God’s word and Justin’s life. It really does blow my mind.
One quick story about last night: After the game, we had dinner at Ramon’s grandmother’s house. It was so cool and such an incredible cultural experience. We decided to leave her house and walk about 5 blocks to the local HaggenDaz ice cream shop for a little “dulces”. On the way, we walked by a little pub and outside was a men’s basketball team having a few beers after a tough loss on the basketball floor. I was at the back of the Ambassador crowd and these guys stopped me to ask if I was the coach of the team. These guys invited me to sit with them so I stayed at the Bar while the guys went ahead to get some ice cream and Ramon and I had the chance to share with this basketball team. Again, the impact of the Ambassadors is incredible because these guys were so receptive to Christ as we shared our story with them. I really wish I could articulate the impact I see in and through this ministry. This is a ministry that is reaching the hearts of young men and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of it. I fundamentally believe that if men are reached, the world will change. The impact of the Ambassadors on the present is incredible to watch and I am grateful to be a witness to it. I am thankful to watch Coach Savedra, Brett, Trent, Larry and all of our Ambassadors use baseball to spiritually impact the lives people through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
3. Impact for the future.
I have about five minutes to finish this up so finally, God has shown me the impact of the future. Yesterday, Adrian mentioned a conversation at our clinic with an older gentleman. One of the things that he did not mention was the 14 year old Dominican catcher who came to know Christ here in the D.R. a few months ago. As I was attempting to use my broken Spanish to clearly communicate the gospel to this gentleman in front of all these baseball players, this young man named John boldly and clearly helped me share Christ. Over the past few days, God has greatly used our Ambassadors in John’s life to give him confidence and boldness in his faith. This paragraph is not doing this story justice but after rubbing shoulders with the Ambassadors, John has begun to see a vision of how God can uses his abilities on and off the baseball field to live for something much bigger than baseball. John is only 14 but this 6’1 kid is going to be a big time baseball player. On Friday, we will have one of our toughest games and this 14 year old will be the starting catcher on one of the best teams in Santiago. It is crazy that this 14 year old has developed enough to earn the starting catcher’s job on this team but that is how they grow them in this country. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit with John’s dad and John’s pastor helping explain how the Ambassador ministry serves the Lord. After sitting with those guys, I have begun to pray for the day that John gets off a plane in OKC to come and play for the Ambassadors.
We gotta go to get things kicked off for this Thursday but one thing is for certain, the future of the Ambassadors is bright because God has opened a door for us that no one can shut.
The bus is waiting for me so I gotta go but before I do, I want to thank you all for reading our trip blogs and for praying for us as we serve today. As you go today, would you do us a favor and stop and pray for the future of the Ambassador ministry. Pray for Adrian as he continues to lead our organization and pray for God’s word to continue to be clear as we communicate the gospel everywhere we go.
Thu, August 1, 2013
by Chris Wall