Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the FANTASY and/or SCI FI Genre (10/16/14)
- TITLE: Ministry in a World of Dreams
By Noel Mitaxa
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Two down, with yours truly at bat.
The pitcher kicks out with his left leg, lowering his right arm behind his back to conceal the grip on this pitch.
The silence is electric as his pitch floats invitingly towards me. Slowed by the beautiful silk ribbon and the gift card―bearing my name―that this kind pitcher has so thoughtfully tied to it.
I step to it, pivoting my hips and shoulders to transfer my weight behind the swing as I bring the bat through to fulfil its whole purpose in life. Its hickory sweet-spot meets the spinning white leather and I snap my wrists in perfect timing with this impact, triggering a thunderous explosion of competing gasps and cheers from the crowd.
The ball instantly reverses its direction; launched into a soaring trajectory that eventually dies in a catching competition among the fans who have packed the left-field bleachers.
The crowd wildly watches three base runners skip around towards home, while I jog my personal circuit―each step lighter than the last. To meet team-mates and coaches who have lined up behind the batters’ box, waiting with high fives, back-slaps and butt-pats as each of us touches in at the plate.
The World Series is finally ours. We’re living the dream of every kid who slips his fingers into the padded fingers of his first glove, and we embrace each other in victory gyrations that no choreographer would claim as his own.
Then, as we begin to release each other, I feel someone grabbing at me from behind. The uproar rapidly fades as I turn to see who it is.
In total silence, the stadium vanishes. Along with the players and the crowds. Replaced with the concern on my wife’s face.
“Come on, wake up or you’ll be late for work!”
But who hasn’t won the World Series/scored the winning touchdown/stood on the dais to receive an Olympic gold medal/nailed a three-pointer to claim the Championship/won a Formula One Grand Prix/sunk a winning putt from the eighteenth hole bunker…
In our fantasies…
Yet for some people it’s no fantasy. Gifted with the strength, stamina, reflexes and discipline; their world is one that everyone else can only dream about.
The world of professional sports.
They have everything. Fame. Huge contracts. Endorsements. Popularity. Adoring fans.
They also have early retirements; some even earlier if injuries or recruiting decisions bring them on. Which is fine if they know who they are beneath the number on their back or their position in the team. But if not, retirement can be filled with more grief than gratitude.
They have everything but privacy when things go wrong―when their sports skills suddenly become impotent. And when it’s hard to know who to trust; because sports journalists’ careers depend on feeding fans’ appetite for the latest news―or stretching any news with juicy rumours that can be developed or killed off―all in the guise of people’s need to know.
And if relationships are involved, rumours easily become salacious.
God has stepped into the world of professional sports, using chaplains who are bridging racial and religious divides through personal pastoral care to players, coaches and their families. Ironically, even in the closest teams, players can’t easily share some issues for fear of being seen as weak, so they deeply appreciate a chaplain’s confidentiality. They know he doesn’t want their job―and they definitely don’t want his.
Chaplains also equip Christian athletes for authentic ministry among their peers, while screening them from exploitive requests from churches who are seeking big names as drawcards. This takes sensitivity, as new converts need to mature in their ministry gifts; so Christians don’t expect sporting skills and faith to automatically produce a powerful testimony or audience-grabbing communication skills.
This ministry keeps sowing the gospel into our culture’s major fascination, for sports have assume secular religion status. And in line with God’s sense of humour, it’s going to get harder for anyone to credibly dismiss Christianity as only for wimps, nerds and losers.
Especially if they are confronted with a towering NBA point guard who just happens to love Jesus.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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