Chris Sullivan in the DR: A Big Praise

I’ve been marinating for the last couple days on something I heard Friday and I just need to go ahead and give God all the glory for it.Julin is one of my favorite players. He is a charismatic kid with big dreams but at 16 years old he is only in the 6th grade. A couple of weeks ago we got a report from Julin’s teacher that he wasn’t going to school. When I talked to Julin, I found he didn’t like going to school because all the younger kids make fun of him and tell him he is too old and no good. He doesn’t like going to school because all the people in his neighborhood tell him he is dumb and should just play baseball. Julin didn’t have anyone speaking life to him. He didn’t have anyone encouraging or telling him he was capable, in fact, everyone was saying the opposite.

When I sat down with Julin I tried to explain to him as best I could why he needed to go to school.

If he doesn’t, he is proving all those people right. I told him all those people in his neighborhood that are criticizing him spend most of their days sitting on their porch doing nothing. They were sitting on that same porch 10 years ago and they’ll be on that same porch in 10 more, but that he has the opportunity for a life better than that. Only he loses if he doesn’t go to school.

He needs to be an example to his younger brothers. He wants to make something of his life and he needs an education to achieve his goals. He needs to be able to provide for a family one day and give them with a better life and more opportunities than he has had. That he couldn’t change the past but can decide what he wants to make of the future.

It has been a couple weeks so I don’t even remember exactly what I said but those are some examples. I don’t know what stuck. Maybe nothing, I was saying all of this in broken Spanish after all. Probably nothing, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t really matter what I said as much as that I was saying it. I think what made the difference was that I cared enough to say something, that I cared enough to encourage him, that I told him he was capable. I think he was desperate to hear that. But as Julin left that day, I didn’t know if he would go back.

On Monday I visited Julin in Los Robles. I chatted him up a bit before asking how school was. He lit up. He told me school was great and that the school is going to let him go to 7th grade in the spring. He thanked me and told me if it wasn’t for me he wouldn’t have gone back. I told him that he deserved all the credit, that I could do all the talking I wanted, but only he could make the decision to go back and that I was proud of him. I took it all with a grain of salt until I talked to Julin’s teacher later that day and got the same report. Wow, God is good.

In the end, God just put me in the right place at the right time and he used me as the tool to touch one of his children and that feels awesome. I feel so honored but yet humbled. I know it wasn’t my wisdom that made a difference but God’s love pouring into this young man. Please keep Julin in your prayers. He is back in school and over one large mountain but has a lot of school and a lot of life to go.

Rooting for ‘Fry

As I watched our players try out this week, it was with mixed emotions. Sufry Thumb is the kind of kid you root for. He is the kind of kid you would do anything for. You want the best for him because he deserves it . He isn’t the biggest kid on the field but he is strong and fast. He works relentlessly and never complains. He is always respectful and never talks back. ‘Fry is probably the best player on our team but he doesn’t expect to be treated differently. He is humble and treats all of his teammates with respect from the best to to the worst. ‘Fry isn’t technically our captain but he is the one that sets the tone for our team. His is the example I want all of our other players to follow on the field and off. When he isn’t at practice or at school, he is working hard on his own, doing extra work, running or lifting weights. His passion has started to rub off on his teammates, particularly some of our younger players who are the in the worst situations. They are always following him around. When ‘Fry is doing extra work in the evenings, they are right there with him. When ‘Fry is lifting weights at home, they are there with him. Every time I’ve been at Fry’s house since I’ve been in the DR, our most at risk player has been there, watching, learning.So it is with a little sadness that I cheer for ‘Fry and pray for the best. ‘Fry is our silent leader and I don’t want to lost his hard work and dedication, the example he sets for the rest of his teammates, or the mentoring he is giving to some of our players who need it most. But I couldn’t be more excited for ‘Fry as a player or as a person. As he closes in on his goal, he has begun a relationship with Christ. And as he has started to read his Bible everything that is already good in ‘Fry has been confirmed and started to grow. He reads his Bible with the same passion, dedication and joy that he plays baseball and that has been an inspiration to me and you can see the excitement in his eyes and hear it in his voice as he tells me what he learned in his reading.

I don’t really have a closing point. This post brings several questions out of me that aren’t really related. Are you the kind of person the people that know you best are rooting for or are they hoping you fail a little bit so you will be humbled (because we have a player like that too)? Do you read your Bible with the same passion you do the thing you love most? Do you read it like it is God speaking to you? Like you have been invited to play a role in a story that is so much bigger than you? Does that get you excited or do you read your bible “dutifully”?