Play ball: Youth group uses baseball to spread message

Giving up a piece of summer vacation isn’t something that most teenagers see themselves doing, but for junior Maria Pope, giving up a piece of her vacation didn’t seem like a loss at all In actuality she found herself gaining something much more special.

Over the course of a week, Maria participated in a youth baseball camp with her church First Baptist Bryan. Seems cool, right? Try 5,325 miles away, in a foreign country.

“We chose to do a baseball camp because it’s not as famous in Germany as it is here,” Maria said. “Every day we played baseball, pitching and hitting. We also did scrimmages with other teams at the camp”.

However, the crew did much more than help the young kids with baseball.

“My favorite thing to do was fellowship” Maria said. “When we did a commitment service, people came down the aisle with lit candles to either renew their commitment to Christ or begin their commitment,we had about 40 candles lit, and it was amazing to see those children’s live change.”

This being her second time participating in the camp, Maria says she can’t wait to go back.

“Having been there before really pushed me to go back; the bond you make are incredible,” Maria said. “The atmosphere was alive for the spirit to know Jesus more, and I would love to go back for an extended stay.”

The bond she made with the kids weren’t severed by time.

“There were no cliques or divisions between gender or race” Maria said. “Everything was very loving”.

A valuable lesson she learned and will never forget is, “putting others before yourself isn’t always easy, but its always rewarding.

“The first year it taught me how to be a servant and how sometimes you might not like the authority above you, but you have to humble yourself and become compatible with people you might not be compatible with,” Maria said.

Of course being in a new country comes with issues of its own, but Maria and the other young leaders persevered through it. Although there was a language barrier, Maria said the common bond was the love for Jesus.

“Like any foreign country the language barrier was an issue but the church had translators and it was neat to bond with them,” Maria said. “There was no separation, and everyone was like a family.”

Maria says she definitely wants to go back for a third year.

“Germany showed me that those people are just as broken as I was,” Maria said. “They deserve to know Jesus just as much as I do.”