Reality Sports believes that in order to be an effective leader, one must know how to serve. In Matthew chapter 23, verse 11, Jesus tells us that, "He who would be the greatest among you must become the servant of all." One of the ways Reality Sports leaders and athletes embrace this philosophy is through mission trips and service projects.
2013 MISSION TRIP/SERVICE PROJECTS
April 2013 - "Blessing the Forgotten - TEARS Foundation" (Wrestling)
May 2013 - Tillicum, WA (Soccer)
June-Aug 2013 - Sandlot Tacoma (Baseball)
2012 MISSION TRIP/SERVICE PROJECTS
April 2012 - "Working Hard for Clean Water" (Wrestling)
July 2012 - Sandlot Tacoma (Baseball and Soccer)
2011 MISSION TRIPS/SERVICE PROJECTS
June 20-23, 2011 in Tacoma, WA (13U and 16U Baseball)
June 28-30, 2011 in Tacoma, WA (18U Baseball)
July 30, 2011 - 4US Bike Ride, Fort Steilacoom, WA (Wrestling)
PAST MISSION TRIPS/SERVICE PROJECTS (2006-2010)
September 24, 2010 - 4US BIKE RIDE
A group of high school wrestlers served at rest stations at the annual 4US event to raise money for mobile ultrasound machines. Thousands of dollars were raised so that pregnant mothers could see a picture of the developing baby.
June 21 - 24, 2010 - TACOMA, WA
Five RS baseball teams (14U-18U) conducted free baseball clinics and shared the good news of Jesus Christ in Tacoma, WA. Players then served in the community doing various service projects in the afternoons. RS is focusing in 2010 on serving in our own backyard.
February 20, 2010 - "Pitching in Relief" HAITI BASEBALL MARATHON
Reality Sports baseball players worked to secure sponsors and pledges for their involvement a marathon of baseball. All proceeds went to support the relief efforts for the Haitian nation and victims of the January 2010 earthquake. Organizations that RS encouraged donors to apply their contribution towards included World Vision, Samaritan's Purse, and Window of Hope. RS baseball players raised over $9,000 for Haiti relief!
June 22 - 29, 2009 - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Two RS baseball teams played baseball and served in the local communities outside of San Pedro, DR during the week. Feeding the poorest of the poor, loving and serving orphans, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ put life in perspective for these high school athletes.
Watch the 2009 DR Highlight Video
June 23 - 26, 2009 - TACOMA MISSION TRIP
One RS baseball team stayed local to provide free baseball clinics to inner city youth and serve in the surrounding community.
June 2008 - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Forty-two (42) Reality Sports baseball players and 12 adults traveled over 3,500 miles to the Dominican Republic this summer for an 8-day mission trip to play baseball and serve in the local communities. Players from our three teams not only competed in the baseball “hotbed” of the world, but also visited orphanages and delivered food to villages. Hundreds of Dominicans heard about and were shown the love of Jesus Christ during the week.
Throughout the week, each of the three RS teams played 5-7 games. RS players were able to witness how baseball is a way of life for the Dominicans, as it is seen as a primary way to rise above poverty. At the end of each game, an RS coach would share his testimony with the Dominican players and fans about how Jesus has changed his life.
Because of generous RS donors here in the States, each of our players had the opportunity to purchase two bags of food to be handed to two different families in various sugarcane villages. Sugarcane is the number one agricultural product in the DR, and the men cut about a ton of sugarcane by hand with a machete each day, for which they are paid the equivalent of $2 US. Each bag of food delivered to a family was about $13 US and would feed the family for 4-5 days. You can imagine the delight that our players were able to see in the faces of the villagers when they handed their bag of food to them!
One of the most difficult yet rewarding experiences for the players during the week was visiting two different orphanages. Whether it was witnessing the extreme conditions at the government-run disabled orphanage or seeing the predominance of girls at the other orphanage, the players held, talked to, and played with attention-deprived kids. They were able to live out Psalm 82:3 which says, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” Something special happened in the hearts of our players as they did this.
Undoubtedly, many Dominicans were impacted by our time there. However, our own players were significantly touched by the opportunity to compete, serve, and hear about the love of Jesus Christ. Sixteen RS players declared Jesus as Lord of their lives at the end of the week, and made a commitment to walk with Him daily! God’s grace was certainly abundant during this special week in June, for which we are very grateful.
June 2007 - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Days 1 and 2 (July 30 and 31, 2007): After many delays and difficulties (we could remake the classic John Candy movie, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”), we finally arrived in San Pedro, Dominican Republic 45 hours after we left Seattle. Many in the group wanted to turn around and go home; cut our losses and head back. Thankfully, God was in control and had better things in store for us.
Upon arriving at our hotel and getting settled in, I got down on my knees and told God that He was going to have to show up if this trip was going to have any impact on our players. And show up, He did.
Day 3 (August 1, 2007): First thing in the morning, our group of 22 players and 4 adults were driven in a Score International bus to a government-run orphanage for disabled kids. There were two floors of children—one of girls and one of boys—with about 25 kids on each floor, ranging from 2 months to about 15. Our worlds were turned upside down by what we experienced. After about 30 minutes of just hanging out and loving those kids, everyone in our group realized their physical and mental blessings. Not only do we have two arms, two legs, and healthy minds, but a body and mind healthy enough to play a dumb game called baseball (“dumb”, obviously, in comparison to the severity of circumstances we had just seen). Not to mention, we have parents that love us. These orphans didn’t even have a mom or dad. We walked out of the orphanage with a life-changing perspective.
Immediately following our visit to the orphanage, Score International took us to a main shopping street in the capital of Santo Domingo . There, we walked along a half-mile route and passed out Gospel tracts that explained salvation through Jesus Christ. Most of the people we encountered graciously accepted the handout and read it as they walked. Some even stopped and asked questions. It was quite the contrast to the response we likely would have received back home in the States, had we done the same. We were all amazed at their hunger for the truth
That afternoon we played our first baseball game at the Arizona Diamondbacks facility called Baseball City (all but 2 of the major league baseball teams have complexes in the Dominican). They have a dormitory where they house all of their Dominican prospects (approximately 1 of every 9 Major League players is from the Dominican) with their field right out the front door. The team we played was a local team of players that ranged anywhere from 14-18 years old. Here was a team of kids playing without nice cleats, gloves, bats, or matching uniforms. They played with passion. They all took infield like A-Rod, though they made many silly mistakes and couldn’t hit a breaking ball. We ended up winning in the bottom of the 14th inning, 6-5. Our guys gave the other team t-shirts, bats, and baseball gloves that they had brought on the trip to give away.
Following the game, both teams sat down on in the infield, and I was able to share the Gospel through an interpreter. It was a privilege to share about God’s plan to restore us from a rebellious nature that we were born with, into a relationship with Him. The fact that God himself came down to earth in the form of a man, Jesus, to die on a cross to pay the price for our sins, and raise from the dead three days later to show that death had been defeated and eternal life our gift, was a blessing to be able to share. About half of their teams’ players met me at home plate to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
“That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Day 4 (August 2, 2007): This morning we were driven to a Wal-Mart-like store called, “Jumbo”. There, we purchased 44 bags of food (2 for each of our players) with money donated by the Puyallup High School DECA program. Each bag contained the following items:
5 pounds of rice
2 pounds of beans
Small white jar of salt
1 liter of cooking oil
3 cans of tuna
12 count pack of chicken-flavored bullion cubes
1 pound of coffee
The mission was this: drive out to a village in the middle of a sugarcane field (#1 agricultural product of the country) to deliver food to each home in the village. These sugarcane villages, as they are called, are some of the poorest areas in the Dominican. A male can cut approximately one ton, yes, one ton, of sugarcane in one day of work, for which they will be paid the equivalent of about $2 US. Each bag of food we purchased was about $10 US. It doesn’t take much math skill to figure out how much cut sugarcane that would equate to. Not to mention, each bag of food would feed that family for two weeks!
It was an honor for each of our players to walk to the door of a shack in the village and hand a bag of food to the family. Each player was able to introduce himself through an interpreter, and then tell the family that they were there to bless their family out of the abundance that God has blessed them with. Why would we be so fortunate to have all the food we want, anytime we want, back home? Why would we be so fortunate to even be born in the United States ? Why do we never realize our own wealth when we’re at Each guy felt blessed to be able to hand their bag of food to a family
After handing out all the food, we played with the kids of the village out in a field behind the houses. Of course, it was a baseball field. We also gave them simple toys—kids’ meal toys that I try to throw away when my kids aren’t looking because they’ll never know the difference. Here, they scratched and fought for the simplest of toys.
Driving from the village we headed to see the New York Yankees complex about 20 minutes away. Talk about contrast. Apparently, the Yankees complex is the best in the Dominican (figures, right?). They had four fields of their own with a gorgeous, new dormitory for the players. In the span of a few minutes, we saw the poorest of the poor, and then were immediately reminded of the vast wealth spawned back home. I wondered how many villages could be fed or removed from poverty with the money it took Steinbrenner to build that complex. I’m not pointing fingers, though, because I wonder how many villages I could feed with the money that I spend on “unnecessary” items back home.
We played a doubleheader in a little town called El Toro . It was a pretty poor town but, of course, they had a baseball “stadium” for their local kids to play ball in. There was a cement barrier that went around the entire outfield to act as a fence, and there were stands for people to sit in. About 50 or so people from the small town watched the game from the stands and perched atop the dugout and fence around the field. Those people didn’t budge the entire 5 ½ hours as we played. Again, the team we played didn’t having matching uniforms, and the players ranged in age from 14-18. Many of the players had that raw talent that we saw in the previous day’s game. They had trouble with their pitching location, and we walked away with two solid wins on the day, ten-running them in both games.
In between games, Keith Madison, the national director of baseball for Score International, spoke to the players and fans, clearly presenting the Gospel. Thirty-two players and fans came up afterward to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior! It was another miraculous display of the power of the Holy Spirit when the word of God is spoken. As it is written,
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Day 5 (August 3, 2007): Today was our “play” day, which, quite honestly, felt a little out of place after witnessing the poverty of the last few days. We took a bus to La Romana on the southeastern tip of the island and got on a boat that ferried us out to Catalina Island . There, we jumped off the top of the boat into clear, blue water commonly seen on postcards. It was miraculous! I made it my goal to appreciate the amazing creation of the Almighty God.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
We also got to snorkel from the boat. As I donned my mask, snorkel, and fins and entered the water, I began to understand that my faith in Jesus (don’t take the analogy too far) was a little bit like snorkeling. I had to trust that as I put my head under the water, the mask and snorkel would function correctly so that I could see and breathe. Sometimes when we first begin as believers in Jesus, it’s hard to trust that He is going to allow us to “breathe” in a world unknown and new to us. This is faith. At first, water leaked in through the mask. I swallowed some water through the snorkel. It wasn’t perfect. In fact, it was rather uncomfortable. I was a rookie. It seems many people at this point swim back to the boat (comfort), take off the mask and snorkel, and give up. “I tried on that Jesus,” they say, “and it didn’t work.”
Easy-believism in American culture is rampant. Jesus never promised that water wouldn’t leak through the mask or come through the snorkel. He promised that he would “never leave us nor forsake us.” He promised to be with us in the midst of leaking water. The culture around us will seep into our “masks” and cloud our vision. The enemy will try to choke us out with water through our snorkels. He wants us to give up. In fact, the Bible says that the enemy comes only to “steal, kill, and destroy.” Ouch. It doesn’t take long to realize, however, that if we look through the mask, even with a little water leaking in the sides, that there are beautiful fish to be seen—yellow fish with black tiger stripes; schools of blue, silvery fish that reflect the light; checkerboard fish that the most imaginative mind couldn’t dream up. The longer I snorkeled, the more I understood the equipment. I was able to position the mask so that it didn’t leak. I was able to breathe long, easy breaths, trusting the snorkel and its ability to function as designed. I even began diving down to depths of 10 to 12 feet to get closer looks at new, amazing fish and coral that I couldn’t see from the surface. I saw things that I would never had seen if I had given up when it was a little bit rough. As we walk closer with Jesus, we begin to see things that only eyes of faith can see—things we could never imagine! Lord, help me to trust in you more.
Napping on the beach, wrestling in the shallow, blue water with the guys, and attempting pyramids in the sand highlighted our afternoon. The guys enjoyed a camaraderie that will be ours for eternity in heaven. For only two things will last forever: God’s Word and relationships
Day 6 (August 4, 2007): This morning we had a doubleheader in San Pedro at a field that was barely recognizable as a baseball field. Our guys actually liked playing on this field. It had the distinct feel of a sandlot game. The local team was very good, and we barely pulled out two victories against them. It was a joy for our players to hand the other team extra batting gloves, bats, and jerseys at the end of the game.
Following the game, Jared Simon, our 18U assistant coach, shared his testimony and presented the Gospel to the other team. We saw numerous players come up at the end to accept Christ into their lives. It’s amazing when the Cross is presented how powerful it is!
After a quick lunch of rice and beans, we were off to La Romana to visit a Christian-run orphanage. We were fortunate enough to spend about an hour playing with kids ranging from 2 to 21 . There were 6 workers for the 150 kids in the orphanage. It was a blessing to color with kids, play ball, jump rope, and play on the toys with them. They craved attention. It was heartbreaking to see a three year-old girl crying underneath the swing because she needed a nap. I picked her up into my arms, only to find her asleep in about 30 seconds. I thought about how many times I have had to sweep up one of my own children into my arms when they are tired, and how they instantly calm down and settle in for a nice nap. This little girl had no one to pick her up. Psalm 82:3 says this,
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy…”
We were able to be the hands of God for just a few minutes on this day.
After dinner we had our devotional time with our players, as we had done every other night of the trip. There was a sense that this night would be different than all the others. The Holy Spirit had been at work all week in all of us through so many different circumstances. His greatest desire is that His creation, you and I, would turn to Him and once again become His beloved. Ten of our players on that last night turned to their Creator and asked Him to be Lord of their lives!! They had heard about it all week. It was their turn to come to the feet of the living God.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19
Day 7 (August 5, 2007): We attended a church on San Pedro on this Sunday morning. The congregation was small but joyous to be in the presence of one another to worship God. The American church could take a lesson in what it means to gather and worship. It was at least 110 degrees inside a relatively small one-room church, and they met for almost two hours. There were no “fast food” Christians there! So often we go to church on a Sunday morning and complain about the worship music or that the pastor went too long in his sermon. We have other things to get to, we think. We have yard work to do and email to catch up on. These Dominican believers would have stayed another two hours. They were soaking in the Word that was being spoken and were truly thankful and excited to be a part of the body of Christ. What a lesson I learned from them for myself.
By the time church was out it was pouring down rain, and it continued on and off for most of the day. It was not just a sprinkle when it was coming down, either, and it was more than enough to cancel the doubleheader that was scheduled for us in the afternoon. We sat around most of the day playing cards and napping.
Late in the evening we had our last devotional time. Each player had the opportunity to share with the entire group what the week had meant to them. It was amazing to hear these young men say things like:
“I can’t complain about anything in my life after this trip.”
“I know God better now.”
“I want to serve more.”
“I’ve seen every one of you guys change this week.”
“I am more thankful for everything I have.”
Day 8 (August 6, 2007): A morning flight out of Santo Domingo , a connection in Atlanta , and 15 hours later we were in Seattle happily greeting our families. It has been solidified in me after this trip that we were created to serve. There is no greater fulfillment than giving time, money, effort, and love to people that are less fortunate or are in need. The fact that God served a needy people (us) by lowering himself to become a human (which he had created), living a perfect life, dying on a cross, and raising from the dead three days later, set the example for how we might live. As it says in Philippians 2:5-11 :
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
June 2007 - MEXICO
We took our 15U and 16U baseball teams and a group of nine wrestlers to build houses for families in need in a poor neighborhood of Rosarito, just south of Tijuana . Our kids worked hard, and after four days of sweat and blood (one of our coaches, Lloyd Cherry, had chicken wire go through his finger), we miraculously finished the project. Brian Peterson and the wrestlers made quick work the first few days because of Brian’s prior experience on previous trips. However, the baseball coaches struggled the first few days as they tried to decipher the building plans, which appeared to be written in some language unknown to man! The interpretation of the “Rubik’s Cube” finally clicked as Gordy McLaren and Pat Frederickson of the Auburn Young Life group (Auburn Young Life and Reality Sports partnered in the trip with a total of 83 people on the mission) came to help square up and level the house on its foundation.
Though the house was now level and square, the third day of the four-day project approached with the baseball teams now 1 ½ days behind schedule. It appeared there would be no option but to continue the work into Sunday, which was designated as the reward day to go shopping in town and swimming at the beach. The baseball players were excited to go into town and barter for fake sunglasses, clothes, and jewelry, but the teams, still four hours behind at the job site, had the proverbial monkey hanging on our backs. The fourth and final day came as a grueling hot one with the clock ticking loud. Could we finish? The players responded with a vengeance, and a miracle began to take shape, as time seemed to stand still and the work multiplied at light speed. It actually felt similar to what the feeding of the five thousand must have been like as the bread and fish just kept coming! Tar paper was rolling, hammers tapping, chicken wire hanging, concrete mixing, stucco flying, and minute by minute was being made up as four hours were negated in just half a day. At 6:00 p.m. PST the last trowel of stucco was spread on the house and the presentation of the keys to the family and their new house was accomplished! It was a remarkable comeback comparable to erasing a 10-run deficit in the bottom of the 9th inning. It was simply a miracle, as God was definitely in us finishing that house.
Finishing the house for the families was incredible. The presentation of the key to tear-filled eyes of gratitude was worth every drop of sweat, blood, dust in the nostrils, and “forced” trip to the outhouse. To quote Pastor Rick Warren, “We were created to serve. We are fulfilled when we serve”. We walked or rode on the bus away from that poor village with a sense of honor and gratitude for getting an opportunity to give our time, money, and energy to someone else. That someone else wasn’t just that family, but it was also to Jesus. Our hearts said, “Lord, you have done so much for us. We live in nice homes, drive our SUV’s sipping on iced lattes, and watch our kids play in parks with grass and sprinkler systems. We turn on light switches and get ice out of the fridge without a thought. We take warm showers and flush a toilet without much of an odor (most of the time). Our kids wear different clothes each day as laundry piles up on our washing machines. Most of us have the chance to go to school and ‘make something’ of our lives with a job that enables us to make the money to have that fridge with ice and running water. In our neighborhood, the ice cream truck attracts every kid from three blocks away with dollars ready and SpongeBob ice cream waiting. In Mexico the ice cream trucks come through with no kids following it or approaching it with smiles. They come through for the Americans who are the only ones with money
We built some houses, but we built more than that. We built friendships, though we may never see those families again, that will echo into eternity. We built memories that will never fade. We built character. We built our spirits, as God’s Word penetrated our hearts at fireside and tent times in the evenings. New mansions in heaven were started as some players gave their lives to the Master Builder. Some seeds were planted, some were watered, and some were harvested. Team unity was developed through “spittin’ ” out rhymes, games of Mafia, and wiffle ball.
We barely survived the riptide, undertow, and pure power of the ocean. A reminder of the power of nature and the frailty of man was once again proclaimed by the salty sea. The bonding of men occurred as only sleeping in a dirty tent with a few other guys on a small pad and sleeping bag can. Taking showers with a bucket of water or small bag with a nozzle in a shower area with rocks serving as the floor also enhanced the bonding. A row of outhouses ¼ mile away from the campsite with the distinct smell of hundreds of campers’ refuse could be considered the epitome of roughing it. After the first or second time of openly carrying your roll of toilet paper to the outhouse for all campers to see was no longer a “walk of shame”. Why? Because we were all in this together. Everyone took the same showers, used the same outhouses, and filled our dusty Nalgene bottles at the same water tank. We all brushed our teeth outside and spit in the dirt. We all went six days without looking in a mirror or having ice in our drinks.
All were together on this journey of giving up American comforts to grant someone else a thousand miles away a more comfortable life. Little did we know that being “uncomfortable” for a week would somehow feel “comfortable”, and that returning to our “comfortable” homes would feel strangely “uncomfortable”. Will it last? Maybe not. The likelihood of being sucked back into our culture and the rat race of gain and hidden greed is high. Mexico will soon be a distant memory. BUT!!! The point is that it is still a memory; something we will never forget, no matter how distant. We may forget the grueling labor and the stench of an outhouse, but the Word of the Lord that was burned in our hearts that week will last forever. The service given in that week will continue for eternity because, “We were created to serve, and we’re fulfilled when we serve.” Let’s continue to serve Him, who first served us, our entire lives (John 13:4-17).
June 2006 - NEW ORLEANS
Hurricane Katrina occurred in 2005, but the devastation along the Gulf Coast is still fresh in the minds of those people who lived through it. Reality Sports took its inaugural mission trip in June of 2006 to aid the relief efforts in New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi.
Thirteen baseball players, six wrestlers, and seven leaders/coaches worked for a week in stifling heat gutting homes and providing cleanup in local neighborhoods. Most areas in New Orleans look as if the storm had just happened. Even today, New Orleans remains somewhat of a ghost town. Gutting four separate homes in the span of four days allowed athletes and leaders to experience what it means to serve in difficult conditions. In most cases, the homes were to be bulldozed upon our completion of the gutting process. It was only at the end of the trip that we found out that it was required by the city to gut the house before it would be inspected for the possibility of rebuilding. Talk about discouraging work! Sometimes the families were not even present to thank us. What a great lesson it was for all involved about how there is not always a return for serving others. In fact, we should serve with no expectation of return. It’s been said, “You can only lead when you learn how to serve.”
In Biloxi, our contingent was able to help the widows of a local church in whatever cleanup projects were needed. Splitting into five groups, some cleaned up yard debris and fixed fences, while others simply mowed lawns. The type of work didn’t matter. As sophomore wrestler Tyler Ball put it, “...it was rewarding to know that we helped people get through the time of crisis that they were in.”
The baseball players were also able to pitch a few curveballs and fastballs in a doubleheader one night in Mississippi against two local high schools. The team came out on the winning end of both games; a nice reward after a long day’s work! The host teams thanked us with a great barbecue following the games.
It was a blessing to see that life is not all about baseball or sports; that deep down, in our very core, we were created to pitch in and serve others.