The Official SPM Crusade Survival Guide
By Tom Gibson, IL Saints Softball Coach
At some point during a Saints Crusade, probably during a devotion or pregame speech, someone will quote Joshua 1:9 and tell the team that we must be strong and courageous, that we are a band of brothers who are ready to storm the gates of hell, that we are here to chew bubblegum and share the Gospel, and …… you get the picture. Unfortunately, not everyone is totally equipped to handle the REAL struggles that come with a Crusade. After going on 13 different Crusades, I have a pretty good grasp on how to navigate through some of the tougher situations, so here are my tips for surviving a Saints crusade.
Dealing with a Snoring Roommate
First of all, this guy will be in denial that he has a snoring problem. He will claim that his wife is overreacting about his snoring and that he knows more about sleep apnea than your average pulmonary doctor! With that being said, he is now YOUR problem once the lights go out. YOU CAN’T SMOTHER HIM WITH A PILLOW (It doesn’t look good for the ministry and isn’t good for your testimony!). The key to dealing with him is earbuds. You pop those babies in and you can fall asleep listening to a classic movie soundtrack, a good book, or your favorite Weird Al Yankovic songs! If your roommate is a major league snorer and can overpower Weird Al, you can always get caught up on sleep when you return to work on Monday.
Playing out of Position
On every Crusade we will have too many Missionary Athletes that play the same position. We will either have too many outfielders and no third basemen or we will have too many infielders and someone will get shoved to the outfield. Whoever is coaching the team will try and make this YOUR problem and shove you to a position in which you rarely if ever play. The key to making this work is to immediately announce, with overwhelming conviction, that you are not an outfielder or corner infielder. This absolves you from the errors that you will make the rest of the day; but it is still important to remind your teammates each time an error does happen, “Hey! My bad, but I’m not a shortstop! He just put me here!”
Going out for Mexican Food
You may choose to insert Chinese, Thai, Guatemalan, or other foreign cuisine here, but there will come a time when whoever is picking food will choose something you don’t like. I have the appetite of your average 12 year old. I like pepperoni pizza, fries, chocolate milkshakes, and that is about it (My wife can verify this and can also verify that this is not one of the qualities that attracted her to me). Looking up and down the menu you will either find nothing you like or you will not be cultured enough to know what anything on the menu is! Relax, because there are three fixes to this scenario. 1. Is it ok for you eat just queso and chips for dinner? Yes, yes it is! 2. Get up and tell the guy next to you that you are using the bathroom, then sprint across the parking lot to the Wendy’s for a Baconator and a Frosty; it’s WAY better than the Gordita surprise that everyone else is ordering. 3. Quietly order the chicken fingers off the kids menu and just tell the rest of the team that the restaurant messed up your order!
Restroom Not Available
There are limited times to use a bathroom during a prison visit, and playing softball while having to use the restroom is the worst. Most of the time you will have a chance to use one in the lobby of the prison, but chances are your snoring roommate is using it the entire time that you are checking in through security. If it happens during a game, the last person you want to talk to is the coach; he will just tell you to tough it out. The person that you should talk to is the officer in charge. They will sometimes “airlift” you in a golf cart from the yard to a wonderful staff restroom. While you are gone, the coach will just have to find someone else to play out of position in your spot!
Surviving a Political Conversation on the Bus
If you really are inclined to smother a teammate with a pillow, now is the time to do it! This conversation will start out with something really brilliant like, “Those IDIOTS who voted for (scoundrel politician) should be shot!” The reply will be even more brilliant and sound something like this, “Oh yeah, well if (deadbeat representative) had done something, then we wouldn’t have the budget/jobs/stray cat crisis that we do now!” This pointless, mind-numbing conversation will last for hours unless someone lies on a grenade and changes the subject. If you are traveling with the IL team, a comment like “I don’t think Jay Cutler got a fair shot in Chicago” or if you are traveling with the PA team something like, “I really wish we would have given Dominic Brown one more chance”, should bring unity to the bus. Unfortunately, they will now be unified in destroying the guy who changed the subject!
Are Saints Prison Ministry Crusades for the faint of heart? Not really, but after reading this you are well-prepared to survive any of the major dilemmas that come up on a Saints Crusade!