I came into the San Diego Summer Impact Experience lukewarm in my faith. I listened to worship music every day and was in church weekly, but I drove past the homeless person on the corner and never took time to listen to others’ stories that didn’t look, act, think and believe like me.
Well, beginning June 7, 2019, all of that changed.
Our first couple of days in Carlsbad, CA, were filled with tremendous professional and spiritual development sessions at the Daniel Summit. I learned so many valuable lessons from men and women of faith in the sport industry. Perhaps the biggest blessing I took away was how each leader was focused on making time for his or her family outside of the office, no matter the position. Even the President of the San Diego Padres takes games off to spend time with his wife and boys. How cool is that?!
The next day, on Sunday, I believe, we did evangelism on the beach in Oceanside. I had a couple of surreal encounters with spiritual warfare. The first encounter was with a man – we’ll call him Jason. Jason was homeless and originally from Colorado. He had saved up just enough money to take a tram all the way to California. He was recovering from a heroin addiction and trying to get back on his feet. You could tell he was searching for something . . . more. A few other teammates and I shared our faith with him. When we got to the main points about Jesus, his face and eyes would lock in on me, and he would
get visibly angry. So angry, that he got up and walked away while yelling. While this wasn’t the result I wanted, it was cool to see that Satan has to flee at the mention of the name Jesus Christ. I still pray for this man, that he would ultimately find the One who loves his soul the most. The second encounter was with a couple – we’ll call them Jim and Jan. Jim was struggling with an alcohol addiction and couldn’t get clean. Jan was overwhelmed with life’s circumstances – battling cancer, six weeks pregnant, homeless and addicted to methamphetamine. My heart was crushed to hear of what they were staring head on.
Fortunately, in the prior interaction with Jason, we had linked with a Christian ministry that does beach outreach, drug rehabilitation and counseling. After conversing with the couple for several minutes, they agreed to walk with us to meet with the ministry called “U-Turn4Christ.” After about ten minutes of getting information, Jim and Jan were booked into a rehab program as a couple and are now in the process of recovering from addiction. Please continue to pray daily for these three individuals – for healing, salvation and ultimate freedom.
Monday was a professional development day in Los Angeles. We were more than blessed to sit in the offices of the L.A. Chargers, UCLA Women’s Basketball, L.A. Galaxy and potentially the most prominent franchise in all of professional sports – the Los Angeles Lakers. While all the professional teams were very cordial with us and definitely went above and beyond to serve us, UCLA Women’s Basketball won my attention for the day. Head coach Cori Close spoke to us for a solid hour and thirty minutes. I could not believe it, because she had about thirty seconds to get to a recruiting call with a big-time recruit after speaking to us. I felt unbelievably honored. On top of the sheer amount of time she gave us, she was FULL of the Holy Spirit. From the moment she opened her mouth, nothing but Jesus came from her. The way she runs her program, her attitude towards others and how much her relationship with
God sets the tone for her life was truly awe-inspiring. I have sat on a lot of lecture with a lot of influential people, but Coach Cori’s talk has stuck with me and will stick with me forever. So, Coach Cori, if you read this, THANK YOU!
The next day, we had the opportunity to serve the homeless in downtown San Diego. We packed hygiene packs and informational pamphlets for locals to know that they are loved and welcome at the San Diego Rescue Mission. I was only able to have one conversation – let’s call him Chris. Chris was just released from prison after serving eight years. He had taken a Greyhound bus from Wisconsin to San Diego and literally lives on the street. I approached him as he was sleeping on the grass, offered to buy him a few snacks and beverage from a nearby Starbucks. He sat up so quickly and agreed to let me help. Immediately, I was humbled and realized how many blessings I have in my life. After sitting down with the snacks, Chris and I ventured into conversation about his story – because everyone has one. He told me about his childhood, where he’s been and how he got to San Diego. Despite his circumstances, he seemed optimistic about his future. After sharing my faith with him at the end of the conversation, I was able to pray with him and left him in good spirits.
On Wednesday, we had the blessing of serving the church that had/has served us so well – North Coast Calvary Chapel. We started off with their staff Bible study. We were blessed to hear from MOAM’s own-Drew Boe in the book of Jeremiah and where / if we are looking to God in the midst of our mess. Then, we were able to lead the student ministry service at North Coast Calvary Chapel. Several students accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, which was the biggest blessing. Oddly enough, the drummer for the student worship team is from Newport, TN, about 45 minutes east of my hometown in
Tennessee. So, it was cool to see the 865 represented in SoCal. New friendships were formed. New life in Christ was found.
On Thursday, we went on a group hike along the coast. This was one of the more physically demanding things I’ve done. The first 3.5 miles weren’t bad at all, but the final mile or so was at about a 95% incline. My legs have never been so strained from exhaustion. Every 10 steps, I would turn around and look to see how far I’d gone. Perhaps this is a good spiritual reminder for us. Even if we only take 10 little steps in our faith, when we see progress in our spiritual lives, we are inspired and pushed to go deeper and further.
Like that, our week was over, and we were headed to the airport. To be frank, I was pretty emotional leaving this group of people. I had bonded and formed true relationships with almost every individual there – that was special. I just wish I had a little more time to make those relationships stronger. While we were short on group-bonding time there, we did have awesome team Bible studies that, no matter how exhausted we were, always seemed to force us to press in just a little bit more and allow God to move and shape us.
In conclusion, I am beyond grateful and humbled to have gone on the San Diego Impact Experience with Managers on a Mission. To Drew, Seth and Mikey, thank you for believing in me, my broken story and everything the Lord is doing in my life. To my MOAM family, thank you for being encouragers who love to love others and desire excellence in sport. To anyone considering joining Mangers on a Mission for an Impact Experience - just do it!