Dominican Republic (MNN) — Most boys in the Dominican Republic grow up without positive male role models. Their fathers are either completely absent, or seldom in the picture. So for a whole wall of dads to be watching their sons all on the same day, something really special must have been up.
Kathy Redmond just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic to hand out baseball equipment to 148 boys who are part of the Compassion International sponsorship program. The equipment was donated by Dominican-born Major League Baseball player Albert Pujols.
"[When the kids saw the equipment], they couldn't contain themselves. I mean, they smiled from ear to ear," says Redmond. "These are kids who have never had anything new. They've never had anything that fits them. And here they're being outfitted with Nike cleats, sliding shorts, an entire uniform, batting gloves–everything that they could have ever wanted to play baseball."
Of course, the beginning of a Little League in this region has to do with more than just baseball. "This is our way of doing an intervention where we're going to make them the role models, where we're going to make sure that a leader comes out of this group," says Redmond. "I am sure that with these uniforms and all that these kids are getting, they're going to stay in the program."
Integrating baseball into the program should significantly decrease the number of young boys who drop out of it. Redmond says many boys drop out at the ages of 13 to 15 because they simply have no positive figures exemplifying a godly lifestyle.
Here's where the second tier of the trip came in. Redmond met with parents (mostly mothers showed up) and explained to them that despite all of Compassion's efforts, these kids will model their behavior after what they see at home. Without the parents' help, the program can only do so much.
This program seems to have already helped, though. Dads who typically may have been in the bar drinking were all outside to watch their sons play baseball with their new equipment. Boys also have role models in their coaches now, who will double as spiritual mentors.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for these kids to interact with other kids, to learn sportsmanship, to learn character, integrity, leadership, and all of that," says Redmond. "This is truly what I believe sports was always meant to be: not what we see today, but this pure form of relationship and community."
Pray that these boys would stay in the Compassion program as a result of this exciting initiative. Pray that all 148 boys would come to know the Lord personally and would even bring their fathers to the Lord. Pray they would grow up to be men after God's own heart.
Compassion sponsors many children throughout the Dominican Republic. If you are interested in sponsoring a child there, click here and enter "Dominican Republic" in the "country" slot.