Bonding over Baseball in Nicaragua

Sometimes God makes it easy to link a national partner with a church in North America, this time thanks to some baseball in Nicaragua.

First Base

Sometimes God makes it easy to link a national partner with a church in North America, this time thanks to some baseball in Nicaragua. I’m a Live Global team member working closely alongside our partner Alvaro Ramirez. Last August, I read the prayer request from Alvaro: “Need baseball players to come and have a baseball clinic for kids.”

Alvaro and Erica disciple children and teens through sports, English classes, the arts, and leadership camps. Playing baseball on Sunday afternoons gives them an opportunity to connect with teens, to meet some of the dads in their community, and to share the Gospel. Other Live Global partners also use sports as an important part of their ministries.

The same week I read Alvaro’s request, Pastor Terry May of Central Baptist Church in Crossville, Tennessee told me, “I’d be interested in taking a group somewhere for sports ministry with one of your partners.” It was hard to miss that kind of orchestration. 

I started meeting online with Alvaro and Terry to talk about how a youth baseball clinic in Nicaragua might happen. Pastor Terry asked father-son combinations to consider joining him and his teen-aged son for a trip to Nicaragua. Other baseball-playing dads and sons signed on. My Live Global teammate Mark would join us too. The Central Baptist Church community donated all kinds of baseball equipment that would be taken to Nicaragua for the Ramírez’s ministry. The youth baseball clinic took place in May 2023.

Why Baseball?

Sports can provide a tool for reaching communities with the Gospel. A shared interest in a specific sport, like baseball, can bridge cultural divides and give people a common language. Playing a game together provides opportunities to interact, start relationships, and eventually introduce spiritual matters. An event like a youth baseball clinic introduces families to the church in their community, making it easier for them to attend services, permit their teens to attend youth meetings, or invite the pastor into their homes. The visiting team from Tennessee not only taught baseball skills, but they also gave evangelistic testimonies and taught biblical principles. Their friendliness and generosity demonstrated the Gospel. The baseball clinic created a magnet for men in the community to get involved, even though they weren’t believers or regular church attenders.

Sliding Home

What are the effects for the church sending the team? North American Christians found that their skills in a particular sport can be a useful tool for global missions. The Tennessee team saw God answer prayer about travel plans, passports, COVID testing, and even the weather. They witnessed how God help build relationships even though they didn’t speak Spanish. They experienced some of what life and ministry are like in Nicaragua. They learned that the Ramírez family and people in their community were grateful for their service. The church in Tennessee now has an opportunity for ongoing partnership. Pastor Terry said, “I’m very glad that we were able to work with Live Global and make this connection. This isn’t a one and done. This is about building relationships and making connections. I’m thankful for the partnerships, connections, and relationships that were made.”

What’s the effect in Nicaragua? For Alvaro and Erica, the connection with another church in North America is important, especially if we can help them cultivate and nurture the new relationship. Central Baptist may send another team in the future and may provide financial support for their ministry. In their community, doors are open for the Gospel and for making disciples. Men have promised to come to church with their families. The Ramirez family has more ideas about using sports as a tool for reaching other communities. 

Pastor Alvaro says that the baseball clinic helped launch a new ministry for children: “We used the baseball clinic as a trampoline to start a Saturday morning sports program where kids come and play. Then we teach them a Bible lesson. If we let them, the kids would stay all morning. We are changing this community one child at a time! That is how this ‘game’ is played.” 
Will you pray for sports and baseball specifically to be an effective tool for the Gospel in Nicaragua and other parts of the world? Will you pray about how God may lead you and your church to get involved in sports ministry somewhere around the globe?