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Inside-out, sideways, backwards, askew – when your team faces tremendous odds, a rally cap is a simple way to show you still believe. Any baseball fan knows that a team can come from behind to win in spectacular fashion.
We believe that’s true for children in poverty, too. Show your commitment, and a child can overcome overwhelming obstacles. Provide opportunities to learn, grow, and play, and you will see children transform.
A powerful movement in the Dominican Republic is creatively using a beloved national sport to change children, their communities, and their country. One Child Matters serves almost 4,300 impoverished children through our programs in the DR. Through child sponsorship, we provide access to health care, educational support, and spiritual development to help children break the cycle of poverty.
Thanks to the support of several major league baseball players, we also have a critical advantage in the fight against poverty: a baseball field.
The baseball complex at Mission Valiente Joshua 1:9 Child Development Center was once an uneven cow pasture. We call it the Field of Dreams because it is both a dream realized and an incredibly effective ministry tool.
Rarely do children living in poverty have access to such facilities – in fact, very few have the opportunity to play organized baseball at all. Instead, they scrounge up broom handles for bats and everything from bottle caps to plastic bags bound tightly together for a ball. Today, however, the children in our programs have access to a field and equipment and are learning the value of teamwork while improving their coordination and physical health.
God moved in the hearts of several people to bring the field to fruition. Garret Anderson, an accomplished outfielder with the Angels, and his wife Teresa gave generously to start building the complex. Later, baseball agent Randy Rowley found willing partners in Justin Masterson, a standout pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, and Kyle Gibson, a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. Several of their friends and fellow ball players have gotten involved as the baseball ministry grew.
It seems there’s always a game going on at the baseball complex, but the impact goes far beyond the field. The project itself has seen parental involvement increase since the field opened. The Dominican Republic is plagued by family instability; most households are run by single parents. Marleny was one of them – when her children were enrolled in the program, she was not interested in God and was struggling to just get by. As she watched her two children grow in confidence and health, she came to believe in Christ. She has since trained to become a tutor at the center, is active in the church, and has married the father of her children.
There are many stories of transformation, but few are as powerful as the Jan family. God has done tremendous things in the lives of Maria and her six sons. You can read more about this unique family and how the program has improved their lives by clicking here.
The baseball complex is also home to a basketball and volleyball court as well as a multi-purpose complex. The building has become a community center, where adult literacy classes and computer lessons are available when the children are not being tutored or learning vocational skills like tailoring or barbering. Several other One Child Matters programs make use of these facilities. In the future, we hope to form a league of One Child Matters teams and host tournaments at the Mission Valiente field.
If you’re interested in learning more or joining us in this unique program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also donate to further our work in the Dominican Republic by clicking here.