A few of our supporters have asked me why is our ministry still involved with Special Kids Day Programs and other events for disabled vets? Without a doubt our current emphasis on ministry to men and assisting local churches in reaching their communities presents more than enough challenges to keep our team busy.
My personal desire to help folks with disabilities came from helping my mom and dad take care of our disabled grandmother who had both legs amputated. Thirty-four years ago my own experience in trying to recover from the surgery of a non-malignant brain tumor rendered me disabled for a period of time. These experiences have allowed us the privilege of serving people with disabilities.
When I see the joy our ministry brings to thousands of people every year who participate in one of our events, I’m excited to know that Men’s Ministry Catalyst and its sister organization Let’s Go Fishing Productions is helping to encourage others who are either physically or mentally challenged. Jesus tells us, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
I normally don’t put into my devotionals a long story but the following one deserves everyone’s attention. Praise God for the many volunteers who assist us with the Special Kids Day Events for the Disabled. The love of God is shown with every act of kindness.
A Wonderful Choice
This will give you cold chills, but puts life into perspective! At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the school’s students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question. “Everything God does is done with perfection. Yet, my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is God’s plan reflected in my son?”
The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. “I believe,” the father answered, “that when God brings a child like Shay into the world, an opportunity to realize the Divine Plan presents itself. And it comes in the way people treat that child.”
Then, he told the following story: Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, “Do you think they will let me play?” Shay’s father knew that most boys would not want him on their team. But the father understood that if his son were allowed to play it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging.
Shay’s father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We are losing by six runs, and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.” In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.
At the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the outfield. Although no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again. Now, with two outs and bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base. Shay was scheduled to be the next at-bat. Would the team actually let Shay bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps closer to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.
The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have ended the game.
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, “Shay, run to first. Run to first.” Never in his life had Shay ever made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled “Run to second, run to second!” By the time Shay was rounding first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman for a tag. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions had been, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head. Shay ran toward second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases toward home.
As Shay reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, “Run to third!” As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams were screaming, “Shay! Run home!” Shay ran home, stepped on home plate and was cheered as the hero, for hitting a “grand slam” and winning the game for his team.
“That day,” said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of the Divine Plan into this world.”
It’s all about the choices we make every day. We can elect to look for those opportunities to encourage others or to just be successful.
~James E. Grassi