Homewood Ministry 2011 Pictures – Farm Outing & Little League
White Fields launched a weekly basketball program in partnership with the Homewood-Brushton YMCA on November 9th, 2010 that ran through March 1st 2011. The goal was to utilize basketball as a fun outlet and a relationship-building tool to earn trust with young men in the Homewood community. As we have learned this trust leads to great opportunities to share Christ and disciple men. Every Tuesday evening WF staff and a team of 3-6 volunteers played hoops and built relationships with 40-50 young men ages 10-17. The young people were divided into 2 groups based upon age and skill level with weekly volunteers remaining constant for continuity reasons. After an opening shoot around time for 15 minutes we would open with prayer, then break down into our groups for a 20 minute drill work time working on basketball skills and team-building. Following this period we would coach and officiate 2 short-court games with the young men. At times volunteers would play to demonstrate how to “lead” as an unselfish player. Emphasizing the often ignored aspects of basketball in the hood, we stressed playing team defense, rebounding, passing and other aspects of a team first approach. After an initial period of resistance it was received well. Many life-skills like reliability, persistence, sportsmanship, and unselfishness were stressed in our basketball times together.
After our basketball time we shared pizza and a message with the boys each week. Leo and Brennan along with some of the volunteers took 15 to 20 minutes each week through personal testimony and the Word of God bringing a message. Sharing the gospel in a context that the guys could relate to was the goal of this time. The calling of the gospel to be a whole-hearted follower of Christ was stressed through some powerful messages from some of our volunteers who grew up in Homewood and overcame great adversity in their journey to walk with Christ. Messages on sexual purity, taming the power of the tongue, serving others were presented as well. At Christmas time we were able to have a special celebration and give Dick’s Sporting Goods gift cards to all of our participants. We also participated with another Homewood ministry, House of Manna, in coaching 2 teams in an 8-week YMCA travel league that ran from February 12 to April 2nd. This was an opportunity to go deeper with 16 young men in 6th through 8th grade.
The outcome of our 14 weeks together was a much greater depth cultivated in relationships with the young men, the YMCA staff, our volunteers, and our LAMP partner Bryan McCabe. The YMCA and Bryan continue to be very important to our work in Homewood as they are trusted gatekeepers in the community. Seeing young people come to Christ and our men follow up in formal mentoring relationships through LAMP or informally through their own intentionality we celebrate the Spirit’s work in our midst!
Two of the boys involved with basketball, Keyshawn and Joe, with whom Leo has a good relationship, were also on the YMCA travel team. They are both seventh grade boys who are strongly drawn towards men who can support them in a relational capacity. Leo continues to meet with them on a weekly basis to provide mentoring during the baseball season.
In April of 2011 White Fields kicked off its 2nd year of partnering with Homewood Community Sports for Little League Baseball. We continue to be in a “servants role” with respect to the league providing uniforms, equipment, and volunteers to the (2) T-ball, (3) little league, and (1) Pony teams. We are building good relationships with the Homewood coaches (there are 10 coaches involved at this point, most of whom are not believers), assisting them and working with them to provide special days for the boys that include: a fishing trip, Pirates game, “Heritage Day farm experience”, baseball clinic with ex-Pirates, and a camp day. We have often coordinated with volunteers special cookouts at Stargell Field providing hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and drinks to players and family members. We view our presence with baseball to be a “salt and light” kind of presence as we are limited not having a real leadership role. Matthew 5:16 states “Let your light shine before men so that they might see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” By serving, cooking, preparing fields, meeting practical needs for the league, praying with our teams, sharing devotional messages, and encouraging sportsmanship over an unhealthy competitive attitude we believe that we are being salt and light. A full report will be provided after the season concludes in July. We are very grateful for the support of Concordia Lutheran Ministries that allows us to administer these programs in the Homewood community. Your support allows us to have an ongoing ministry presence in the community, providing important outlets for young people to stay involved in recreational sports and get connected in life-giving relationships centered in Christ and the gospel.
Testimonies from volunteers in the baseball ministry:
“I feel so blessed that Concordia Lutheran Ministries is supporting baseball in Homewood. As one of the assistant coaches on the Tee-ball team and a part of the White Fields Foundation, I see all the kids dressed in nice Mariners uniforms for each game provided by Concordia. Several of the children do not have baseball gloves, and having the resources to supply gloves, bats and other equipment is so helpful. Our cook outs that have been funded by Concordia have also blessed the kids. To have time to eat a hamburger and hotdog and connect with the kids has been great. I have had a chance to talk with the kids about the love of Christ regularly through this outreach and pray with the children at the games. Without the generous financial support from Concordia and the commitment of volunteers from White Fields Foundation, the baseball program in Homewood would not be anywhere near what is today.” –John Cullen
“We at White Fields are blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy fellowship with the fun people of the Homewood community. We held our first “Community Cookout” on May 27th in the parking lot of the Homewood-Brushton YMCA and served 180 hot dogs, chips and drinks! None of it went to waste as we shared a beautiful evening with some pretty hungry folks that ranged in age from newborn to elderly. We were so blessed to share the gifts of our Lord with them through our “service with a smile” and the generosity of the Concordia. The fine people of Homewood are a blessing to us all as their gracious attitudes and welcoming actions do not go unnoticed. We gave thanks to those that were not able to join us but made the evening possible. Leo, Wayne, Jerry, Bryan, and other’s had a great time and look forward to sharing our Lord with all who join us at coming events. Thanks to all and God Bless.” –Joe Goldcamp