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Crossing the Finish Line

Saturday, October 19, 2019

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“I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan

It was the Spring of 1987 and there it was, staring me in the face.

I was reading a small newspaper that was published by a local Christian radio station. Among the many articles and advertisements was a single cartoon. It pictured three people running a race, each with a “caption balloon” over his head. One said, “I can’t do it” while another said, “I give up.” However, the third runner was shown breaking the tape at the finish line while shouting, “I did it!”

At the time, I was earnestly praying about a crazy idea that God had given me about five years earlier. Actually, it was more like a vision and, over the course of time, it had grown into a deep burden. Simply put, God seemed to be telling me to start an athletic ministry that would use sports to share the gospel and win the lost.

That cartoon struck me between the eyes like a two-by-four. The last thing I wanted was to be like the two quitters in the race. Instead, I longed to be like the runner who dug down deep and eventually broke the tape.

With that thought it mind, I shared my decision with Deanna and a few close friends at church. Not so coincidentally, our church’s softball team had recently disbanded because of ongoing arguments in the local church league. Just like that, God had dumped an almost intact softball team in my lap!

I recruited a few high school friends who also played softball and the South Jersey Saints were up and running. The only question that remained was who were we going to play? Were there any openings in the local rec league or playing against volunteer firehouse teams… or even ones sponsored by bars in the area? After all, they needed Jesus too, right?

Well, the first door that opened up wasn’t playing against Delaware Gardens Fire Company or the Old English Tavern, both in Pennsauken NJ. Nope, as God would have it, the first opportunity to play was at Bayside State Prison in Leesburg. Five hundred prisons… an estimated 5,000 games… and approximately 500,000 inmates later, I think God made the right decision.

What race does God want YOU to enter? Whatever it is, don’t stop running until you cross the finish line.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV)

Rev. Dale M. Glading, President

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