Acts 20:35- In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
“He’s not at his locker yet, but four guys are over there interviewing his glove.” – Rex Barney to reporters looking to interview Brooks Robinson after the 1970 World Series
Most prisons have a very low budget for recreation programs and most often during our visits the inmates use subpar softball equipment. Often times the gloves they use are torn and in serious need of repair. There is a good friend of mine, Rodney Stewart, from the North Georgia Saints team who has a heart for not only giving the inmates something tangible but using it as a means of sharing the Gospel.
The program is called “The Glove Exchange”. I have pasted the details below but basically we will take in 10-12 gloves during a prison visit and exchange them for the worst gloves the prison has in their supply. Volunteers will recondition these gloves if they can be repaired and then re-exchanged during a later visit.
I was part of a Glove Exchange while in Louisiana this spring. The inmate team was very happy to get something new! Several guys talked about not getting anything new or even a gift in years. This tore down some of the initial tension that comes with each visit and several guys were able to have some good conversations about the Gospel.
In order to get the program off of the ground with our Central Illinois team, we are doing a “Glove Drive” July 6th-20th. We will have a donation bin set up at the Church Softball Field at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Peoria. You can also contact any member of the Saints Prison Ministry team to donate a glove.
If you would wish to volunteer time to repair gloves please see the contact information at the bottom of this post.
Any kid sized gloves that are donated will be used by an organization called Gloves 4 God that runs missions trips to the Dominican Republic. (www.gloves4god.org)
THE GLOVE EXCHANGE
Purpose of The Glove Exchange
Our goal in establishing The Glove Exchange is to provide re-conditioned gloves for the prisons in which we minister, to express God’s love in a tangible way, while continuing to build relationships with the inmates and prison staff.
Consider how even the word “gloves” demonstrates our reason for starting this program. Look at the following phrases that contain the word gloves.
” G od’s love s aves”
” G od loves sinners”
or simply ” G od loves“.
Chances are that you’ll never look at your glove the same way again!
Gloves can be obtained through donations: leagues, friends, teammates, church members all may have old gloves buried in a closet somewhere. No glove is turned away regardless of size or condition.
Our goal is to have 10 to 12 gloves ready for a preplanned glove ex-change. After that first exchange is complete the exchanged gloves be-come the next set to be re-conditioned, although it is always useful to have do-nations to supplement the inventory—not all gloves received from prisons will be worth repairing.
Anyone can be recruited to re-condition gloves—this is not team specific—and this is a great way to get others involved who may not be able to physically visit a prison. Once we have enough gloves ready the Regional Di-rector will organize an exchange at the earliest opportunity.
Training is available for re-conditioning volunteers and all materials will be pro-vided by SPM. The condition of the glove assigned will be commensurate with the ability of the volunteer.
This is difficult to determine precisely, as it will vary depending on the individual’s experience and the condition of the gloves received. The minimum amount of time one can expect to spend on a glove is about an hour, but even in more extreme cases the entire process does not have to be completed in one sitting.
Repair Kits: The repair kits required to do the re-conditioning will include the following items.
- large lacing needle
- large lacing tool
- 4oz bottle of conditioning oil
- pair of snips for cutting leather
- pair of pliers for pulling laces
- bundle of black and tan leather lacing
- Small nylon bag for storing tools and supplies.
The kit will not include any cleaner since not all gloves need cleaning and it helps keep expenses low, however can be provided as needed.
God began to develop this idea during the 2012 softball season. We have visited many prisons and seen first-hand that most of the inmates do not have the best gloves and some do not have gloves at all. It was during a visit to a South Carolina prison that God really burdened my heart about finding a solution. I can still see, in my mind, their bag of gloves being dumped on the ground and them scrambling to try to find a good glove. None of the gloves were in very good condition and some even looked like they were made out of plastic; the type you would buy a small child to play with in the backyard. Well, God already had a solution in mind and I just needed to wake up and realize it. You see, God had already led me to an-other ministry about the same time as the Saints. This ministry is called “Gloves4God”, which is a sports ministry that does baseball mission trips to the Dominican Republic and Japan, with the purpose of sharing the Gospel. They recondition gloves to give to the kids and do on-site glove repair during the baseball clinics and games. Check them out at www.glovesgod.org One day while I was working on a glove for them, God impressed upon my heart to approach the Saints’ leader-ship with the idea of doing this for the in-mates. The rest, as they say, is history!
For more information or to volunteer to be a Reconditioning Technician contact:
Tom Gibson, Central Illinois Coach