Beating Pharaoh's Softball Team
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
“Whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Mountaintop Speech
Over the past 32 years, I have been privileged to lead dozens of Christian sports teams into hundreds of correctional institutions across North America. Despite the fact that the inmates we compete against are usually younger, faster, and stronger, our ministry teams win most of their games. In fact, I would estimate that our softball teams have won 80%-90% of their games and our basketball teams have performed almost as well.
Going into a correctional facility, our teams face several built-in disadvantages. First, the prison teams can draw from an almost limitless pool of prospective players. For instance, earlier this month we ministered at DeSoto Correctional Institution in Arcadia FL, which houses more than 1,800 men. So, when the administration selected the best 10-12 basketball players in the entire compound, their squad represented the “cream of the crop”.
Second, our missionary athletes are all “working stiffs”, holding down full-time jobs in addition to their family, church and civic responsibilities. Meanwhile, the inmate teams practice several hours each and every day in preparation for our visits. Third, while we have to wake up in the wee hours of the morning and then drive several hours to the various institutions, the inmate players are resting comfortably on their bunks awaiting our arrival.
So, what is our secret to being competitive, let alone winning most of our games? Well, as far as softball is concerned, we rely heavily on better equipment. Trust me…there is a big difference between a $50 bat and one that costs five times that amount. As for basketball, where both squads use the same ball, we depend on teamwork. Most inmate teams play as five individuals. Conversely, our players try to operate as a single unit.
Imagine, if you will, what would happen if like-minded Christians and like-minded churches worked together as one cohesive unit, not caring who started the game, played more minutes, or scored more points. If their only concern was which team – God’s or Satan’s – won the game, our combined forces would be virtually unstoppable.
Presidents Truman and Reagan were both fond of saying the following: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
“…on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 (NKJV)