NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As we approach Christmas time it gives everyone a chance to reflect on the many blessings we have, as well as the birth of Jesus.
Over the Christmas break (Dec. 12-19) members of the Lipscomb baseball team and athletic department will be doing much more in the Dominican Republic.
This group will be traveling on a mission trip to the Ponton community where they will put those many blessings into action by spreading the gospel and also helping serve others in need. This will be the first mission trip for the Lipscomb baseball team.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to share our faith and our life with their community,” Lipscomb Director of Operations Brian Ryman said. “Lipscomb has had a few other teams help this community in the past. Over the summer the women’s basketball team traveled there and built a brand new basketball court.
“With the national sport of the Dominican being baseball, our guys have the chance to create an impact and be something like super heroes to them.”
Ponton is a community on the outskirts of Villa Bisono in the north central region of the country.
The team will be working closely with a Lipscomb ministry partner, Marte Mission, and their Dominican partnership, Association Centro Cristiano to further assist an ongoing ministry. The work includes the refurbishment of a local youth sandlot baseball field and park. The team will also spend a lot of time sharing their faith and spending time with the local youth.
“For a lot of these guys, this will be their first time out of the country,” Ryman said. “A lot of the time here in the U.S., there are options for help, while in a foreign, third-world country there isn’t.
“It will be good to see a different perspective and how good we all have it. It also provides an opportunity for the kids to have someone to look up to.”
The mission team will arrive on Friday and spend that time getting settled into the area. The team will be staying at a local house/guest house with the possibility of also camping out in the local church on air mattresses.
Over Saturday and Sunday the work project and ministry will begin as everyone will get acquainted with the church and the locals. It will be a good chance for the players to spend time with the kids and introduce the work they will be doing for the community.
Over the rest of the week the group will be at the worksite - renovating the field during the day while spreading the gospel and life stories at night.
"What a great opportunity this is for our players to get to experience a trip like this," Lipscomb baseball head coach Jeff Forehand said. "We talk a lot about relationships and I hope we can build some life-long relationships in the DR while we impact and share in each others lives."
The field is nothing more than an abandoned dirt lot with the quite outline of a baseball field. It consists of a three-row concrete backstop with a tattered chain-link fence, an outfield wall consisting of buried tires, sidelines with no dugouts and a flat pitching surface.
“A lot of work has to be done to the baseball field,” Ryman said. “If you took a picture of the worst inner-city park in America it is 10 times worse in the DR. We are going to make it the best we possibly can and hopefully we can find someone to take care of it once we leave.”
The team will travel to local hardware stores in the community and in the city to find the materials needed, such as rakes, drags, building materials, shovels and more.
The Marte Mission is led by Kassie and Melchor Marte and is supported by the Franklin Christian Church (FCC) in Franklin. Kassie, who will be the primary contact for the baseball team, attended FCC as a child. She met Melchor on a mission trip and moved to the Dominican Republic in January 2007. The two married later that summer.
Kassie hopes to start a women’s ministry in the DR while Melchor has the vision to start a sports ministry.
With a group of 20-25 traveling, each individual must come up with $1,700 by December 1st. This cost includes airfare, transportation, visa, food, lodging and project supplies.
“We have done a good job of raising the money, but we could still use some help not only financially, but also in prayer,” Ryman said.
If anyone would like to be a part of this mission trip and make a donation, there are two options. You can mail a check to Lipscomb University Missions with your enclosed contribution or you can make a donation online by following this link: http://www.lipscomb.edu/giving/student-mission-gifts.
Supporters are more than welcome to give a donation to a specific individual or just to the general fund. Remember, no gift is too small.
“It is Garth Brooks who said it best,” Ryman said. “He has a new song coming out titled ‘People Loving People' and to me that is what a mission trip is all about. I had the opportunity to go to Honduras a few years ago and they really loved us being there and we loved being there with them.
“I think that is what’s so messed up with the world today, there are not enough people helping people. But we can go down there and show God’s love in different ways.”