Of Beaches and Baseball

07/08/13

It was Tim's Schulte's secret dream to play baseball with Dominicans—some of the best baseball players in the world. But he didn't consider that desire when looking for a trip to take his son on. "More than anything, we wanted to do a mission trip together," he says. 

 
That's when Tim found out about I Love Baseball. He had previously been on a Venture Trip to Malawi with Children of the Nations (COTN), but didn't know COTN had a baseball program in the Dominican Republic
 
It was actually at a Starbucks that a friend of a friend told Tim about I Love Baseball (ILB), a program COTN operates in the Dominican Republic that helps young baseball hopefuls in poverty-stricken areas stay in school while still getting excellent baseball training, spiritual mentorship, and enough food for their growing bodies. "That's exactly what I had wanted," says Tim, "and I had no idea it existed!"
 
When Tim brought it up to his son, a baseball player himself, and found out he had a similar dream of playing baseball with Dominicans, they scheduled a trip. "It was last-minute," says Tim, "but we were able to get together a team of five." 
 
Tim's team of five played alongside the young men in the I Love Baseball program
                          Tim's team of five played alongside the young men in COTN's I Love Baseball program. 
 
While in the Dominican Republic, Tim, his son, and the other family that joined them spent a lot of time doing just what they dreamed: playing baseball with the young men of I Love Baseball. "We played baseball for four days straight," explains Tim. 
 
But Tim says it was on day five, during a beach cleanup project, that they really began to connect with the young men they were playing alongside. Walking along the beach carrying trash bags together, they began to strike up conversations and share with one another. 
 
It was working alongside ILB players that helped the team connect with them
                                It was working alongside the ILB boys that helped the team connect with them. 
 
Community projects like this are a regular occurrence at ILB, and an important part of what the program is about: giving back to your community. Having Venture participants working alongside them just reinforced this for the boys. 
 
"It teaches our boys what it means to give back," says Ben Holman, who serves as ILB's USA coordinator. "We want that giving mindset to be a part of who these boys are, because we believe that they will have a great opportunity and capacity to give back to their community whether or not they make it to Major League Baseball."
 
ILB players are encouraged to give back to their community
                               Young men in the ILB program are encouraged to give back to their community.
 
Though it may seem like a simple beach cleanup, the concept that the boys have something to contribute whether they become baseball players or not addresses a deep problem in the Dominican Republic. Many boys drop out of school in hopes of making it as a professional baseball player. But very few actually achieve that elite status, and most end up uneducated, with no way to support their families, so the cycle of poverty continues. 
 
Tim's team set an example of service for the boys
Tim's team set an example of service for the boys. They also enjoyed getting to know them better as they worked. 
 
Whether you are helping ILB players get an education, eat every day, and learn about Jesus through sponsorship, or are setting an example of service by working alongside them, you are showing these boys that there is a hope and a future for them. Whether they make it as a professional baseball player, or go on to university, as several of the boys are now doing, these boys know they have something to give back, thanks to teams like Tim's, and people like you. 
 
Help a child stay in school and have a future!  Sponsor an ILB player today!