Baseball is baseball no matter where its played.
In November, seven men from Southside Baptist Church traveled to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip to teach the sport. The trip, held the week of Nov. 10, was sponsored by Score, an organization that uses sports as a tool to spread the churchs message.
Jerry Walls, the senior pastor at Southside, said about 200 men ministered close to 2,500 youth ages 6-17 from the Dominican Republic.
Hundreds of young men made the decision to follow Jesus during the last day of the trip after former Major League Baseball player Brett Butler shared his testimony, Walls said. A few other former and current major league players were also on hand during the week-long mission trip.
It was a great bonding time, Walls said.
Traveling with Walls were Joey Stella, Randall Nash, Joey Mullens, Mike Holmes, Ken Galason and Brandon Dawson.
During the six-day journey, Stella, president of Warner Robins American Little League, not only taught baseball but learned a little about himself, too.
I learned that the material things in life is not what makes you happy, but just being alive, laughter and fellowship is what makes your life worth living for, he said.
Part of the trip was paid for by donations and part was through personal funds.
The total cost of the trip was just shy of $1,000 per person.
Stella came away from the trip with a renewed passion for the sport.
When you go to different cultures, you learn more than you teach, Stella said.
The group had devotionals before the men went to the baseball fields to teach.
The mornings were spent doing infield, outfield, catching and hitting practice. At the end of the session, the missionaries would speak about the Bible.
For some of the children, this was their way out of poverty, Walls said.
One of the highlights of the trip for Stella was seeing the boys and their parents accept the message of the Bible.
Anytime you can talk about God and play baseball is always a good day, he said.