Last night, as our team gathered on the 6th floor of our hotel in Santiago, we could not believe that yesterday was a 24 hour period. So much happened. I will try to articulate it.
We began the day with a baseball practice with an amazing baseball team called 1430. Several years ago, Lee Tunnell played with a Dominican named Dennio Gonzalez. Lee actually taught him English as they played together in the Major Leagues. Now, Dennio runs a team here in the D.R. and helps guys play in the U.S. and gain exposure to the Major League Draft. We began the day with a workout with some incredible baseball players. From the very beginning of our ministry, Dennio has known about the Ambassadors and it is a tremendous blessing to connect with he and his organization this week.
This workout on a Dominican field was a priceless experience for our players. I was so proud of each of them because they just jumped in with both feet. Even though our guys struggled to speak the language, it was amazing to watch them communicate through this gift of baseball. As they warmed up, stretched and played catch, it was like these guys all grew up together. Here are a couple of highlights that come to mind:
1. Brandon Cuddy was pumped to play catch with a guy who is considering at 750K contract with the N.Y. Yankees.
2. Our coaches jumped in with Dennio and his coaches throwing BP, hitting fungo, and helping with drills.
3. It was a blast watching my son who is 12 and his two Owasso friends Cooper and Cobey who are 10 and 11 have the experience of taking a round of BP with these older guys. Even though they were a little nervous, they were motivated to become better baseball players.
4. Having the experience of sharing the gospel with each of these amazing athletes and seeing many of them pray to receive Christ after this workout.
At the end of our work out, our guys gathered at the pitchers mound and we shared Christ with this team. It was amazing to witness God use His word and Justin's life to point these top athletes to Jesus. When it came time to present the gospel, the team kept crouching in closer and closer so they would not miss a word. We basically had a church service right after a workout on a baseball field in the D.R. It is just crazy that God has opened this door for us.
After that amazing experience, we loaded up and went to lunch at the mall. It was fun.
As soon as lunch was over, we jumped in the bus and ran over to another baseball field (by the way, there are baseball fields everywhere in this place). As we pulled up to the field, there were 40 plus kids waiting for us at this particular Sandlot.
Because we were short on time, the Ambassadors divided up and for an hour, we played a huge Sandlot baseball game. It was a blast. All of these kids were smiling ear to ear and it was just fun. At the end of the game, we gathered the kids together and shared the gospel with them. By that time, we had 60 plus who had seen us and joined in the game.
After that amazing journey, we jumped back in the bus and headed straight for the baseball field. I hope that you have been able to look at Facebook. Wacey Henderson took a picture of our field that is absolutely amazing. I don't know that I can fully explain what a blessing it is that we get to play on this field. This is just a very unique open door for us and it does not happen with other teams that come to the D.R. All of this is just another example of God's hand on this journey for the Ambassadors. Every year on this field, they play the Carribean World Series. Now, that is the place the Ambassadors play. It is amazing.
When we pulled up, our opponents had already arrived and we began to get ready to play a baseball game. For the sake of time, I will allow you to look at game changer for the details of the game. We are about to leave and there is so much more I want to say.
Needless to say, in spite of the nerves of playing the first game in the D.R., we battled hard against this team. The competition in the D.R. is by far the toughest competition we have faced on an international stage. We ended up losing the game 4-3 and both teams played extremely hard for 9 solid innings.
At the end of the game, we gathered with the team on the field and shared the gospel with them. Each team played so hard that the respect for each other could not only be seen on their faces, it could be felt on the field. As we shared the gospel, Coach V asked if they have never asked Christ to come into their lives, pray with him. At that time, 3/4th's of the team prayed with him on the baseball field. Yesterday, we watched many people come to Jesus on a baseball field. All we did to have that experience was speak up about what God has done in our lives. We should all do this a lot more in other areas of our lives.
After we shared and I had the opportunity to challenge these guys to find a church and pray that God helps them connect with a group of believers in the community, the head coach came up to me and began to tell me about his organization. He runs a baseball organization with over 200 kids. He said to me, "You have an open door to every one of my players" and he invited us to come and share our story about God with his kids. He then said that this baseball game was the best game he had every played. In the 15 years that he has led his organization, they have never had the opportunity to play on that field until yesterday. When he played on it, he heard about God. It was the best game he had every played. I teared up talking to him because it just blew me a way to have this significant "God moment" in my life. I wish you all could have been here.
After the game, we went to Ramon's grandmothers house and they fed us an amazing meal of Dominican Hot Dogs. Ramon's family is a precious group of people and they have adopted all of the Ambassadors into their family. The work they are doing for us is just amazing. I will fill you in on all of it as the week progresses. It was a perfect ending to the day, so we thought.
As we get back to the hotel, some of our guys started staggering to the room to get ready for our share time. As the second half of the team rolled off the bus, we noticed a big light down the street with a bunch of camera's. One of the guys who was dancing noticed the team and said, "Grengo's, would you be willing to be in our video?" Well, of course we couldn't turn down that opportunity so 15 of the guys rolled down the street. Before we knew it, the entire team was in the street being filmed in the background of a rap video. Now most of us can check that one off the bucket list.
As we talked to these guys, we discovered that this is not just a random group of rappers, this was a group of legitimate Christian recording artists who just happened to be recording their video outside of our hotel. I have already checked out their ministry and these people are shaping the culture in the Dominican for the kingdom of God. Later this week, these guys are going to come to our game and have offered to perform. I hope we can work this out.
I wish I could talk more but I just have to go. Keep praying for us. This day has some amazing things in store and I just can't wait to see what the Lord does in and through us.
Tue, July 24, 2012
by Chris Wall