CCA’s varsity baseball team has had a victorious season – being crowned district champions and advancing to the regional finals. The real triumph for these players, though, has not been the games they’ve won, but the many souls they’ve led to salvation through Jesus Christ. Coaches Wayne Rosenthal and Carlos Lopez share how a seed of faith has yielded an unprecedented harvest for the Kingdom.
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It had been a close and tense game that seemed destined for disappointment. The game concluded with a loss for the CCA Eagles, but to the opposing team’s disbelief, the players were beaming with joy as they invited them to pray afterwards. What happened next was the Holy Spirit’s doing as CCA’s players set out to win their ultimate prize.
Mentors and Visionaries
Wayne Rosenthal and Carlos Lopez both share a vision to train up the next generation of young baseball players to not only display excellent athletic skills, but also exemplary Christian character. For these CCA coaches, the men of God these players develop into matters more than the titles and trophies they attain.
Throughout the season, Coach Rosenthal and Coach Lopez have created opportunities for spiritual and mental development by organizing weekly devotionals and team lunches for players to build community, emphasizing the core values of unity and humility. Such development is a fundamental priority to their training regimen.
“We are applying, ‘love God with all your heart, love your [teammates] as yourself,’” said Coach Lopez, a former professional baseball player for the Seattle Mariners and scout for the Detroit Tigers.
Prayer has always been an integral part of the team’s activities on the field, but this past season, the coaches felt the Holy Spirit leading them to do something different – invite players from the opposing team to join in on their team prayer at the end of the game and extend an invitation to anyone who wanted to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior; little did they know what would ensue.
Athlete-Ministers On Mission
The first time that CCA’s baseball team extended an invitation to opposing players to receive Jesus, much to their surprise, three players came forward. At the next game, another four, then another eight, and during one memorable game, 19 players and the coach came forward to receive Jesus Christ!
CCA players continued doing this after every game, win or lose. Particularly after a loss, the joy and excitement these players exuded when sharing Jesus with their opponents was what drew the other team members to hearing about Jesus.
“I’ve seen 15 to 20 of my friends, possibly more, get saved throughout our whole experience, which was really cool to watch; they’re people I grew up playing ball with,” said CCA baseball player and captain Franco Ruocco.
What started as a step of faith rippled into a wave of faith that spurred others to join the mission! Moved by the outreach ministry that had sprung up during the baseball games, a friend of the team felt led to donate Bibles so that CCA players could gift them to the players who accepted Jesus. Over the course of the 2022-23 baseball season, nearly 100 visitors decided to give their lives to Jesus.
“If you get one person saved, it’s worth it, but to get over 90, it’s worth what we’re doing,” said Coach Rosenthal, a former professional baseball player for the Texas Rangers and pitching coach for the Montreal Expos and Miami Marlins.
Lessons From the Field
One of the many valuable lessons this evangelistic opportunity has taught CCA’s players is the importance of always being ready to give a reason for their faith (1 Peter 3:15). The more they connected with other players for prayer, the more comfortable they grew sharing their faith and leading others to take their next steps, like registering for Youth Encounter, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale’s summer youth gathering.
The encouragement these Eagles have given to the other players, the unity they’ve cultivated, and the commendable character they’ve displayed – toward one another and their opponents – have mirrored the heart of Christ. By demonstrating Jesus’ humility and servant-leadership, these players have grown into a family that is putting Him first. Their preparation and dedication to one another and to the players they minister to has deemed them winners: winners of souls.
“We’re going to be a family and care for one another like they’re your brothers, and if we do that, everything else shines,” said Coach Rosenthal.
The end of the baseball season may have concluded with CCA’s baseball team winning the district championship and advancing to the regional finals, but this team’s eternal victory is measured by the lives they’ve won for Christ.
If you’d like your son (rising 3rd-8th grades) to be mentored spiritually and athletically by Coach Lopez, be sure to register him for Baseball Camp* happening from July 17-21! This camp is open to CCA and non-CCA students. You can learn more by clicking here.
*All registrations and payments are processed through the online platform Popsicle; you will need to create a Popsicle account if you do not have one already.
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