FCI Greenville Report

I would like to thank everyone who has been praying in this process!  God showed up big at FCI Greenville in Greenville Illinois!  Our team had been looking forward to last weekend for months.  Here is a recap of the last few days:

Friday morning-  Several members of the team take the day off in anticipation of the weekend.  We hit around at Bradley park and took some infield practice.  The team’s starting third-basemen drops 3 easy pop-ups but everyone there has his back!

Friday evening-  We had an all team meeting discussing what our day would look like.  We broke down several elements of the day such as security, managing equipment, finally playing the game, the preaching time, literature distribution, and how to talk with the inmates.  Everyone leaves the meeting ready to play that evening!

Saturday morning-  For those of us who have been talking about this since September, this is Christmas morning!  Uniforms are on, equipment is ready, and vehicles are fueled up and ready to go!  We meet as a team to pray for the safety of our team, the reception of the inmates, and the well-being of our families that we are leaving behind.  It is raining in Peoria while we are heading east on I-74.  It is still raining when we stop at McDonalds between Lincoln and Springfield.  It is still raining as we are passing the “Welcome to Greenville” sign, however the sun is out and there is no rain at the prison as we pull up and prepare for a day of 4 softball games!  We went through security and walked out the iron gate into the dorm area and through another iron gate into the recreation yard.  We were met by several handshakes and guys welcoming us to the yard.  After getting our equipment set up and after some warm up tosses, we were ready to start our game!  There were about 300 men lined up around the field.  The crowd was loud and several of them were heckling us!  As Brent Gerber took his first at-bat someone yelled out “You Stink!” (another work might have been used for stink!).  The guys around the backstop had fun messing with us.  Brent had a 3 run homer that game and Kurt Hand hit two homers that first game.  We won the first game 15-12!  On a personal note, I was glad to get that first win.  It was important to know that we can compete with these guys in prison.  On a more important level, it was important to get the win and earn the respect of the opposing team and the inmates watching the game.  I had the chance to talk with several men in the yard and hand out literature between games.  The first guy I talked with was already a believer.  He was discouraged by his time he had to do but he was encouraged to see us come out and spend time with him and the rest of the inmates.  We came out a little flatter in the second game and dropped it 14-12.  As we were a couple of blocks away from the facility, it began to pour rain!  We went to a local Subway for an hour and watched it rain.  We went back to the facility only to find that it had not rained there at all!  God is good and had a plan for that day!  We played games 3 and 4 against the “A” team of the facility.  We had a little trouble keeping up and dropped the final two games of the day.  Brent Gerber did make the best catch I’ve seen in left field.  We definitely lost the game and perhaps some of the respect we had built, however, it was an awesome experience.  Every guy on the inmate team shook our hands and thanked us for coming.  The best compliment we got was a guy saying that it was nice to “get away from it all” for two hours. 

We handed out hundreds of Gospels of John, hundreds of tracts (We handed out a tract about MLB star Josh Hamilton), and even several Spanish Gospels and tracts.  We had 175 men fill out response cards indicating they wanted to follow up with the Saints and participate in a Bible Study.  We had 40 men who indicated that they trusted Jesus as their Savior while we were there.  That was an awesome thing to be part of! 

Everyone on the team played a huge part in the day!  Jim Culver, Nate Terry, Corky Schumacher, and Darrell Pine played huge factors in ministry during the day.  If they weren’t in the ball game, they were telling someone about the same Jesus who saved them!  It was a huge blessing to be around those men for an entire day. 

Brian Burnett played tired, hurt, but gave everything he had that day at shortstop so that men can hear about Jesus Christ.  Brent Gerber and Kurt Hand did the same.  It was also great to have the young guys like Jeremy Test and Cody Hadfield wanting to serve God through something they love!  Very proud of those guys!  I was proud to have a veteran corrections minister in Joel Austin with our group.  If anyone has a love for the lost it’s Joel and he played with all of his heart and engaged in several meaningful conversations throughout the day.  I was also proud to have longtime teammate and friend Paul Dodd along to share his faith with these men.  Very proud of you OSU!

It was also a huge privilege to have veteran Saints Frank Zeidler, Don Conner and Tom Carberry along for the trip.  Frank has been a huge support and mentor as we have been getting this team off of the ground.  He is a ministry machine and loves to tell people about his Lord and Savior.  Don is a Saints legend who traveled all of the way from New Jersey to be with our team that day.  Tom Carberry provided solid defense, a wicked swing, leadership, and a love for the men there that I hope to match someday. 

There is only 25 more days until we go back to another prison!  We will be preparing and praying that God does more of the same! 

Go Saints Go!!!

This article has 1 Comment

  1. I almost forgot about our guy who couldn't make the trip! Chris Stone played a big part on our team and worked hard to get his support level up so he could play but he couldn't make the trip due to the birth of his 6th child, Christian James Stone. Chris is counting down the days until August 11!

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