by Andy Solomon, Coach, Middle GA Saints softball team
I joined the Saints Prison Ministry about five years ago. At the time, God was teaching me that He desired for me to use all the skills, talents, abilities and passions He had given me to honor Him, even if they didn’t necessarily fit within the context of typical church ministry. As I thought about what that specifically meant for me, my thoughts drifted toward softball. I enjoy the game and I am pretty good at it (depending on who you ask). So I began exploring how I could use my passion for softball to honor God and point others to him.
I saw a post about the Saints Prison Ministry on a softball message board so I sent an email to the coach of the North Georgia team. I just wanted to see if this ministry might be what I was looking for. Instead of getting an email with information about the ministry, I was asked if I would meet with the SE Regional Director of the Saints to talk about possibly forming a new team in the Macon, GA area. I reluctantly agreed. In the beginning, I was uneasy with the idea. I just wanted information on the ministry, I wasn’t looking to jump in with both feet quite yet. After meeting with the Director I was sold on the ministry and with a lot of help from a lot of people, the Middle Georgia Saints team was formed.
In the five years I’ve been a part of the team, I have seen many men profess faith in Christ. I’ve heard firsthand stories of how the ministry has changed lives. I’ve seen countless smiles on faces of men who probably didn’t have much to smile about. I’ve heard numerous words of appreciation for the encouragement the ministry brings. I’ve made many friends among the men I’ve ministered alongside.
But, I can also look back and see how much I’ve grown spiritually during this time. Much of this spiritual growth can be directly attributed to my participation in the ministry. Five years ago, the thought of sharing my testimony in front of a group of 100 people, much less inmates, terrified me. Five years ago I would not be one of the first people to volunteer to share the gospel in front of a large group. Today, I regularly share both my testimony and the gospel during our ministry time in the institutions. My ability to communicate the gospel has improved because of the many opportunities this ministry gives me to share. My boldness in sharing the gospel has grown. Hearing the many stories of how God changed others’ lives constantly inspires me to share the life-changing message of the gospel more.
I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities this ministry has given me to serve and minister. I’m thankful for the growth that this ministry has spurred in my life. I know many other Missionary Athletes can testify to the same spiritual growth in their lives because of this ministry. It is amazing how God works through this ministry not only to draw inmates to him, but also to grow the participants of the ministry, to build us up in the faith so that we can minister to others better and serve him more.