I remember the day the third baseman’s world was pulled out from under him. His life was baseball and his college team was headed to the small college World Series. He thought. If only one of his teammates hadn’t brought champagne into the locker room after they won the regional championship -- to celebrate like the pros. If only a local newspaper photographer hadn’t snapped the picture. If only the paper hadn’t printed the picture with the story. If only the story hadn’t infuriated the constituency who supported the small, Christian college. If only the coach had taken action and removed the offender with the booze from the team. If only.
Instead, the college president did take action and pulled the team from the series. The whole purpose of life came crashing down around that third baseman. Looking for answers, within a couple months he ended up in an unexpected place. He realized that Christ could fill the void in his heart and he received the forgiveness and hope that comes when we surrender to Him.
Less than two years later that third baseman and his young wife were teaching school. I had the privilege of becoming his pastor. He was eager to know and serve God. He spent hours studying the Bible. He was a natural leader who easily talked about faith and saw a number of his friends follow Jesus.
One day he came to me and asked for my blessing as he went off to further explore his world of faith. I knew the right answer and fought back my own disappointment that he was stepping away from our church. A few months later he started his own church, even as he still taught high school. That church started growing. At the time, we had just moved to Yuma. He would call me asking for input as they tried to organize their ministry.
Almost 25 years have passed since he planted the church in the Phoenix area. It has grown into one of the largest churches in AZ and they have seen hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- come to Christ. Even today I am moved as I think about this man who became my “son” in the ministry.
It all started when he faced the pain of a lost dream. What good is coming from your pain?