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Baseball scout recruits for God’s royal family

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–After playing baseball at the University of Arkansas from 1978-79, Al Jiron’s only desire was to coach. When coaching led to a contract as a scout for the Kansas City Royals, Jiron decided whenever the Lord gave him the opportunity to speak about scouting, he would quickly turn the conversation to the Lord and him alone.
“I am thrilled to be a part of the Royal organization, and I am thrilled to recruit people for the Royal family,” Jiron said in speaking to a Dec. 9 chapel audience at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “But I would say that 10 times over for God’s royal family.”
Jiron, who served two years as a missionary with the Navigators and three years as senior pastor of Castle Rock (Colo.) Baptist Church, is now enrolled in the M.Div. program of the Kansas City-based seminary. As a professional scout, he noted many similarities between the players he recruits and the Christians he works with.
“There are many times that I’ve gone out to recruit athletes, and I find that they have let themselves get caught up in other things besides playing ball,” Jiron explained. “Many guys are concerned about how they look, they’re concerned about being attractive to other people, they’re concerned about people liking them, and they lose sight of playing the game they’re called to play in.
“In the Christian life, I believe we fall into that at times. We get caught into many different things, and we get in many discussions, and we go down many different avenues, and we forget about the game God has called us to be about.”
Jiron gave as an example a little league game he had attended where the second baseman was injured at the bottom of the seventh inning. The coach, seeing that his team was two runs ahead and had a chance to win the game, called a boy off the bench to play second base. When the boy protested that he’d never played the position before, the coach explained that he only had to worry about the balls hit in front of him, since any ball that went over his head belonged to the right fielder.
“Well, what do you think happens?” Jiron asked. “The first pitch that is thrown, this kid at the plate swings the bat and he gets what we call a ‘Texas leaguer.’ It is a ball that barely goes over the infielder’s head, but it actually went a little bit into right field. Well, this little boy, not knowing how to play second base, not being mature in the game, remembered what the coach said, and said, ‘Wait a minute, I get balls from here forward. Anything behind me is the right fielder’s ball.’
“Well, the right fielder starts yelling, ‘Get the ball, get the ball,’ and this kid turns around and starts yelling, ‘You get the ball, you get the ball, it’s your ball.’ The kids stood there and argued as all three kids on the bases scored. They continually argued over who was right. Technically, the second baseman is right, and logically the right fielder is right, but they spent their time arguing over who was right, and they ended up losing the game.
“In the Christian life, we have to be cautious, as we study the doctrines, and those doctrines within doctrines that seem to be Texas leaguers to us — just a little bit over our head — that we don’t lose sight of the game that we’re to be about and get caught up in the arguments over these things. Many people spend their lives arguing over who is technically right, and I say we need to get back to basics.”
Turning to Matthew 28:18-20, Jiron challenged the audience to return to the basics as outlined in the Great Commission.
“So often we get caught up in terminology and arguments and so many different things, and we forget about the basics of the game,” he said. “And as pastors, if you get caught up in it, I trust that your people will, too. But if you are a master of the basics — if evangelism and souls are a passion of your heart — you will find that they will be a passion of your people’s heart, because the people follow the leadership.”
Jiron recounted how he was discipled by a Navigator missionary when he first came to Christ in the military. During this time, he learned what it meant to take someone under his wing, bring them into his house and allow them to see Christ in his life. He called on those listening to follow this example of discipleship.
“I would encourage you as leaders in the church to take men under your wing, and you older women take younger women and train them in the faith,” Jiron said. “Exemplify what it is to be a Christian. Let them see Christ personified. Let them see a walk with Christ in your life and through your life.
“And to you professors, I would make a challenge as a student,” continued Jiron. “I would ask you please to put time in your personal life for one or two students. Take us in and pour what you have into us. Not just the knowledge. We want the knowledge. But I would ask you professors: Take us, pour yourselves into us, and then send us out as a representation of you. Don’t get caught up in all the academics and forget about investing your life in individuals. And preachers, I would ask you to do the same.”
Jiron concluded by exhorting listeners to remember both Christ’s authority and his presence in the church’s mission of evangelism.
“There are many people whom God is drawing to himself and we don’t know who they are, so we make a general call of the gospel to anybody and to all who would come, for all who would call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
“But we don’t go in our power, we don’t go in our own strength. We go by a commission from the king. And I would say to you, there is no greater privilege than being a scout or recruiter for the royal family, to the glory of God. May God take us and put within us a passion for souls and a high view of who he is.”

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  • Clinton Wolf