Challenger Baseball

Challenger Baseball

A couple of weeks ago I was driving past the Little League park down the street from my house and saw something I had never seen. A person in a wheelchair was being pushed around the bases. The smiles all around were infectious, so I had to stop and see what was going on.

The local Mr. Little League, Tony Ojeda, was on the field as usual. I’ve known Tony for longer than either of us wants to admit, so in between innings  we chatted.

What he told me made me choke back a tear. Challenger Baseball is all about letting young people with special needs play baseball. So now almost every Saturday morning you will see me at the Imperial Little League field chatting away on the microphone, cheering on kids, exhorting cheers from the crowd and generally having the time of my life.

I don’t have any kids involved in Challenger Baseball. I’m not there to add people to Remnant, my church. I’m not there to evangelize people. I’m there for one simple reason: I think it’s what Jesus would have done.

I can picture Jesus hanging out at the Challenger games, chatting with the kids, talking to the parents, and showing his love to anybody he met. So that’s my goal, too. I am nowhere near as good at it as Jesus was, but if I can be part of something bigger than me that brings joy to people, I am going to do it.

When you look around at the people who attend church with you on Sunday, what do you see? Do you see impressive people, dressed in fine clothes who have it all together? Or do you see hurting people in need of comfort; troubled people in need of peace; sick people who need healing?

Marshall Hayden wrote an article a few years ago entitled, “Would Every Non-Hurter Please Stand Up?” He pointed out that people come to church wearing their best clothes & their best smiles. Everybody looks happy, so we assume everything is okay. But he suggests that we need to look beyond the facade & realize that the pews are full of hurting people.

He wrote, “Over here is a family with an income of $550 a week and an outgo of $1,000. The lady over there just found a tumor that tested positive.

“Sam & Louise just had a nasty fight. Each is thinking of divorce. Last Monday Jim learned that he was being laid off. Sarah has tried her best to cover the bruises her drunken husband inflicted when he came home Friday night.

“Then there are those of us with lesser hurts, but they don’t seem so small to us: an unresponsive spouse, a boring job, a poor grade, a friend or parent who is unresponsive …on & on the stories go. The lonely, the dying, the discouraged, the exhausted, they’re all here.”

And that is why Jesus came. He came to bring comfort, healing and peace. He came to make the lives of people better, and more fulfilling. In John 10:10 Jesus said, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Yeah, I can see him hanging out with the Challenger kids and their families. And since he’s not here in the flesh, I’ll try to fill in for him.

Chatting on the mic and choking back tears… Jerry