The Saints Prison Ministry occasionally gets requests to work with another organization on a specific project, or even consider merging the organizations together. After a common faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning work at Calvary, the next thing I look for is synergy between the organizations: the idea that like-minded forces, working together as equals, can be greater than the impact of each independently.
Brother Bob’s Outreach is based in Wisconsin, and they check all the boxes of my “synergy scorecard.” The relationship started simply enough back in 2016 when we were planning our first-ever trip to Wisconsin. One of the prisons we scheduled mentioned a ministry that operated locally using a similar model. A few phone calls later a relationship was begun and, in the fall of 2019, Bruce Buri, BBO’s Director of Sports Ministry, joined our crusade to Alabama. He’s been a fixture ever since, traveling on five more crusades since then and bringing a few of BBO’s missionary-athletes with him on some.
In early August, a few MAs from our Illinois softball team were asked to help fill out the roster for a two-team Brother Bob’s softball event. It would have been tempting to treat this trip as though we were just helping out – along for the ride. We could have just focused on softball, ensuring that each team had enough players. But since this ministry also believes this is about more than just softball, we knew that we still needed to engage with the guys we saw and to be witnesses for Christ.
We had a fantastic day at Racine CI, ministering side-by-side with the Brother Bob’s Outreach softball team. Since there were two BBO teams, we were able to play multiple games at the same time. We won all four games and had a great experience interacting with the men in the prison yard. And since it was the Illinois team in Wisconsin, Gibby received his fair share of heckling for being a lifetime Cubs and Bears fan!
This was as seamless an experience as Bruce traveling to Alabama to join a group of men he had never met before. In both cases, the newcomers fit like a hand in a glove… and there is an extremely easy explanation for why. Because in each case, all those involved were so busy looking up for God’s strength and looking around for someone on whom to reflect the love of Christ, that there was no room for being uncomfortable or awkward.
Synergy? It’s much easier when we’re all focused Him!