The person on the other end of the phone call wanted me to come by his house to look at something about which he had some questions. So later that day, I drove to his house to see how I could help him.
Turns out he had been to a Red Cross rummage sale (the British call it a Jumble Sale.) An American family who had moved back to the States had left a horseshoe pitching set and a number of softball items—several gloves, 3 bats, some softballs, and a home plate. Having never pitched horseshoes nor played baseball, my friend was wondering if I might be interested in them.
I told him about pitching horseshoes which he found interesting, deciding to create his own horseshoe pitching pits by his porch. It became a hit in the expatriate community.
I took the softball equipment to add to the equipment sitting in the storeroom at the school which had been left by previous American teachers and families. With the two sets of equipment, I had almost enough for a baseball team. But whom to play and where? There aren’t baseball fields in Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.
I ended up organizing a 6 team softball league. We had two teams of Japanese, a timber buying group and a port construction group, 3 secondary school teams, and a British/Irish/Australian business group (plus 2 Americans). Four of the teams I had to teach how to play softball.
All this got me to thinking about how I learned to play baseball in the first place. I don’t really remember having any lessons until I started playing Little League, but I had played before then.
As we didn’t have organized teams for T-Ball or Coach Pitch, my learning began with my parents as they played catch with me and tossed the ball for me to hit. (There is a story in my family that my mother made an unassisted triple play.) I played with my neighbors, in back yards, front yards, vacant lots, in the street or wherever we could get a group together. We not only played games as teams, we played workup and 500. I went to see the Idaho Falls Russets, the professional minor league team in town.
Through all of this, I learned about the game. I worked on my skills but also learned about the rules of play and the strategy of playing. I learned from and by watching others.
So how is it we learn about faith and our relationship with God? When I was teaching the 4 teams in Sandakan how to play, it wasn’t enough to give them the rules and say, “Go play.” It required demonstrating and guiding and practice.
That’s true for our faith too. We learn from and with those around us. We see faith demonstrated in people’s lives. We read the stories—in the Bible and from others. We talk about our faith. We practice our faith together. It becomes an integral part of our lives. And others learn from us.
So, come, join the fun of learning together.
Pastor Ron Kempe