Tag Archives: Inside Story

Push the Rock: Partners in Ministry

by Kyle Stramara, Harrisburg District Director, Push the Rock

In 2012, in the face of more invitations for The Saints Prison Ministry’s basketball team than we could answer, Frank reached out to a local sports ministry with an idea. Since they focused on running basketball camps for youth, then the leaders can surely play the game fairly well and we could ask them to fill some dates for us. Little did he know then what God had in store for all of those involved!

My name is Kyle Stramara and I am a full-time staff member with Push The Rock, currently working from our Harrisburg District Office. At Push The Rock our vision is to be a global leader in sports ministry, impacting the world for Jesus Christ… one life at a time! Now that you know our vision, it should be no surprise to you that our partnership with The Saints Prison Ministry is one of extreme value to us.

Push The Rock began in 1997 as one basketball camp in Macungie, Pennsylvania. The organization started with the goal of using sports as a vehicle to share the love of Jesus Christ with anyone with whom we came in contact. Since then, as The Lord has led, our ministry has grown into so much more.

For a very long time our focus and target audience revolved around youth. Our summer sports camps began to grow in numbers as we partnered with local churches and began to use other sports than basketball to share the Gospel. However, we began to notice that our entire ministry was focused on children ages 4-16 and we longed for opportunity to use sports to share Christ with an older demographic.

This is where The Saints stepped in and answered our prayers to The Lord.  In the winter of 2012, we were visited by The Saints Prison Ministry and challenged to get a basketball team together to play a game at SCI Dallas in Pennsylvania. Finally, an opportunity to uses sports to share our love for Jesus Christ with adults!

From the very beginning Frank Zeidler and The Saints made us feel like family. I strongly believe that the best way to teach someone something is not face to face; rather it is shoulder and shoulder. The Saints did a great job exemplifying this as they walked shoulder and shoulder with us into this new avenue of ministry. Along with willing hearts to serve, The Saints brought with them a name that has been recognized for its athletic prison ministry for over 25 years and it has been our honor to learn from the best.

We fell in love with the way The Saints do ministry and we were quickly asking for ways to grow and continue working together. Since that first game in 2012, The Saints Prison Ministry and Push The Rock have grown this partnership from playing two games that first season to a scheduled eight games in the upcoming 2016 season.

“I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” -Matthew 25:36.
This verse comes to mind when I think about what The Saints embody and what they have done for us. We now have the opportunity to put this verse into action as we use the sport of basketball to share Jesus with the inmates we come across on the court. It has been such a blessing to my personal walk with Jesus and for many team members through the years.  Although the focus is definitely on the inmates, we have found that the biblical mandate to build disciples is fulfilled through relationships on our basketball team as well. What a blessing it is for Push The Rock and The Saints Prison Ministry to walk side by side fulfilling God’s call to make disciples of all nations.

The Bar Has Been Set!

Written by Hugh Dwyer, Missionary-Athlete, New Jersey

The year was 1998.  I remember going to my first practice, I was excited and determined to show the veterans I could play.  It was my first time meeting Dale, Shrop and DC as softball players (we had met previously when I was introduced to the Saints on the basketball court in college) and my first ever meeting of many other teammates, including the gentleman who would become my close friend and roommate on countless Saints crusades, Jeff Marthins.  These were the men I wanted to impress that day.  I had no idea that one afternoon practice I attended for two hours in Moorestown, NJ would turn into so much more.

As the calendar turned to May, practice was over and it was now time to play.  I wish I could recall where we went that first date but being as excited and nervous as I was I am not even sure what state we were in, let alone what facility.  There is no sound quite like the first time you hear the heavy metal gate close behind you!

Throughout my first season I learned a ton – almost all of which did not involve softball.  Our Coach drilled into us the importance of playing well so that we can honor the One we play for and to capture the respect of the men in the yard.  Of course, I was also reminded what my approach should be when I was leading off an inning or how important it is to never make the first or third out at 3rd base.  I also quickly learned being a younger player meant you would be the pinch runner all the time!

The real lessons I learned in that first year and the years following were far more important than leading off an inning or running bases.  The veterans with whom I ministered shared more than ministry – they shared life-altering lessons with me on every trip:

  • Being flexible is the key to prison ministry. God’s plan not ours.
  • Real men pray
  • Real men do cry even in front of other men
  • Being willing is far more important than being skilled
  • Breaking down the walls a person may have is essential to sharing the Good News. Laughter can be one of the best methods of doing this.
  • Your story (testimony) is God’s unique work in your life. It can be the exact story someone needs to hear.  Don’t ever sell your story short.
  • Being single I learned so much from the veterans about being a loving husband and what a true father looks like.

Many years have gone by and the roles have changed.  Now I am one of the veterans and the coach of the New Jersey team.  I miss the men who have come before me and wish they still ministered alongside me.   I cherish the times now when they join us for prayer before we depart for a day of ministry or when they join us for an entire crusade.

They set the standard for being a missionary-athlete; and it now falls on me to ensure the lessons they taught me are passed down to the current missionary-athletes.  They have run the race with faithfulness and now my charge is to run and ensure I pass the baton faithfully as well.

That is all they would ask of me.

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Two crusades the same week!  We’ve had Saturdays with more than one team in the field at the same time, but it is rare when two teams are on crusade at the same time.

March 5-10, a softball team from Fayetteville First Baptist Church (GA) is working with the Saints Prison Ministry under our new Church-Crusade Partnership model to visit 6 prisons in Central Florida.

March 7-10, our NJ Basketball team is going to be visiting 6 prisons in New York in just 4 days – an exhausting undertaking to be sure!

Please be in prayer all week for this men as they take the Gospel to this disenfranchised population and shine the Light into a very dark world!

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The Saints Golf Classic was a hit in three different locations in 2018 !

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