Rain, Being Flexible, and Prison Dodgeball- Danville Visit Follow Up

Rain, Being Flexible, and Prison Dodgeball!

“Now there’s three things you can do in a baseball game:  You can win or you can lose or it can rain.”-  Casey Stengel
We are a ministry that uses the game of slow pitch softball as a means of sharing the Gospel with inmates across the country.  During the first few years of the Illinois team’s history, we often had our share of losing softball games (insert Cubs joke here).  The last couple of years we have gotten much better on the field and have noticed that, when we play better, the more engagement and respect we receive from the inmates.

When our regional director notified me late Friday night that Danville had already rained out the softball game for Saturday, it was a big letdown.  We were still going to go but we wouldn’t be playing softball.  It was also tough to tell our team, that had just won two games against a very talented team in Greenville, that we weren’t playing on the field today. The leisure time specialist at the facility said that we could still come but we would be playing wiffleball and dodgeball.  Our team could have pouted about it or found a last minute excuse to skip the day.  Instead, we were able to stand on one of the key Saints principles throughout the years:

“Flexibility is the key to prison ministry.”
Everyone knows that cancellations and changes are always a possibility anytime we schedule a visit.  We may be asked to play basketball, soccer, or even checkers on a moment’s notice because of weather or a number of other reasons.  Even with the frightening thought of having to play dodgeball, our team was ready to roll out at our scheduled time to travel 2 hours to Danville.

We went 1-1 in wiffleball with the Danville team winning on a walk-off three homer off the gym wall in the first game.  We came back and won the 2nd game.  One of the inmates who goes by “Bird” took a home run away by climbing on a portable stage in the gym’s “left field”.  The mood was much lighter than one of our normal softball games as both teams were having fun watching the ball bounce off of the rafters and as both teams dove on the floor to catch the little white plastic ball.

Before we went home we played 9 games of dodgeball with the inmates.  To the best of our knowledge we were the first Saints team to play dodgeball in the 28 years of the ministry.  That was a cool milestone until they started zinging little rubber balls past our heads!  We actually held our own as we won 4, lost 4, and tied once.  Sam Isbell, one of our rookie missionary athletes, won a game single-handedly.

Most importantly our ministry time went well, and we had 13 men indicate that they made professions of faith.  We also handed out 145 Gospels during the day.  I love those numbers but even more special was that we had several Saints engaging in one-on-one conversations and prayer with the inmates when they weren’t playing.  Lots of our guys had stories after the game about talking to inmates about salvation and praying for their situations and families at home.

If yesterday would have been about softball, we would have stayed home and wouldn’t have stories like this to share.  Since our Saints team understands the need to be flexible and made the two hour drive and we were able to share the Gospel and make an impact for Christ in Danville.

Thank you again for your support!  Please pray that God works through the Gospel that was preached and with the Gospels that were distributed.  Praise God for the 13 men who made decisions and please pray for their growth.  

A big thank you to our IL Saints team that rolled with the punches and were willing to do whatever it takes!

One special prayer request is for our remaining dates.  We have a few different places that have shown interest in us but haven’t fully committed yet.  We are confident that God will provide those opportunities but in the meantime please pray that God continues to open doors for His word to go out in the prisons!

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