By: CHRISTINE AIKEN
Baseball and faith: both passions to which many people devote their lives.
IU South Bend sophomore Steve Giegerich plans to combine them when he travels to the Dominican Republic as part of the Playball Ministry.
The goal of this organization is to evangelize to communities through quality baseball instruction for boys. Considering that the Dominican Republic produces more major league baseball players than any other country in the Caribbean, Central America or Mexico, it is a prime location for ministering to young, aspiring baseball stars.
Playball was started by Dave Ferguson, a Baptist Mid-Mission missionary, over a decade ago. Some of those currently assisting with the ministry even attended this themselves when they were younger, and are now helping to teach baseball to a new generation.
“My son went last year and became friends with a young man who played for the Chicago Cubs,” Giegerich said.
A current Spanish student, Giegerich played baseball when he was younger for several years. He said that it was one of his favorite sports. He was drawn to learn the Spanish language and plans to use what he has learned thus far during his visit to the Dominican Republic.
“I recommend everyone seriously study Spanish or another language, not only as a graduating requirement, but as a means to reach out to others who do not know English,” he said. “It shows to a non-English speaker that you care if you try to converse.”
Giegerich will arrive in the Dominican Republic June 27 and stay through July 6. He will be responsible for helping with one of the stations responsible for a specific type of instruction. The stations are infield, outfield, running, hitting and the Gospel. He said that last year there were approximately 30 helpers for the clinics, with a total of about 600 boys attending.
Giegerich also plans to take jerseys, t-shirts and hats with him to give to the boys who are participating in the clinics.
“Many are very poor,” he said. “Some do not own gloves, but they come out anyway to play ball.”
IUSB students can do their part to help these underprivileged children as well. At the Campus Bible Fellowship table in Wiekamp Hall, there will be a box where students and faculty can donate jerseys, hats and t-shirts that are in good condition. Baseball cards of former and current Dominican baseball players are also welcome. These items will be collected until finals week.
“My desire is while preparing to go to the Dominican Republic and while there, somehow Jesus Christ will be seen through me while on the ball field,” Giegerich said. “It is important to show Christ’s love and share him naturally to others. I know this trip will be a life changer for me.”