God glorified through baseball cards
Missouri Baptists take the idea – and the Gospel to Venezuela
September 16, 2004
LEBANON – It’s difficult to discern the ways of God, the Bible declares in the book of Ecclesiastes. Missouri Baptists are well aware of that truth as they have watched God use people, places and even things – like baseball cards – to draw people to Himself.
Two Baptists who can vouch for God’s use of baseball cards are Paul Dudley, baseball coach at Lebanon High School, and Cristie Boen, a St. Louis chiropractor and member of West County Community Church at Wildwood.
Boen, a former pitcher for the Missouri Tigers women’s softball team and a friend of some St. Louis Cardinal baseball players, got the baseball card idea after speaking with a former Cardinal, J.D. Drew.
“People were continually asking for his autograph, so I suggested to him that we put together a baseball card with his picture, testimony and signature,” Boen said. “That way they would be getting the Gospel as well as his autograph and a card.”
The idea mushroomed when Albert Pujols, another St. Louis player, came to Boen and suggested the baseball card would be a good thing for him to use when he returned to his home country, the Dominican Republic. A card was produced for Pujols who, Boen said, hands them out to droves of Dominicans when he returns.
Boen’s task of getting the cards made was made easier because some workers at Garlich Printing also attend West County Church.
The idea for one card has now expanded to cards for every Christian member of the Cardinals. The cards are distributed freely at the annual Christian Family Day at Busch Stadium.
Dudley, a member of Hillcrest Baptist Church, Lebanon, read in The Pathway about baseball cards being used at Christian Family Day and eventually contacted Boen about getting some cards to use in connection with a sports evangelism mission trip to Venezuela last summer.
“I saw one of the J.D. Drew cards and thought it would be great if we could have cards with a Spanish testimony. Albert Pujols is the most famous Latin player. The Venezuelans loved it like it was a $100 bill,” Dudley said.
Joe Brooks, associate pastor at West County, supplied Dudley with a good supply of cards with Pujols’ testimony in Spanish.
The trip, Dudley’s second to Venezuela, resulted in 114 people placing their trust in Christ.
“When we were in Valencia ( Venezuela) two years ago, we met a local coach. He let us help him with practice, and he got saved early one morning,” Dudley said.
“After that as each new team would practice, he would have the boys go listen to the missionary because ‘he had something important to say.’ That day more than 70 people got saved on the ball field.”
Dudley said there is overwhelming poverty in the Dominican Republic.
“The kids are poor beyond what anyone in the States can imagine,” Dudley said. “The baseball cards we gave them will be treasured by all the kids and read and reread over and over.
“We can’t underestimate the importance of Christian sports heroes openly sharing their faith. The boys knew all the players on the cards, but – just like at my house – Albert Pujols was No. 1”
Dudley said he is still in awe over the impact the cards made in Venezuela.
“The Lord used the cards to bring people to Him while we were there,” Dudley said. “I believe that the cards we left behind will give the missionaries and local pastors the opportunity to share Christ with many more.”
Boen said she is “completely humbled” to hear about how God has taken her idea for a Christian baseball card and used it so powerfully.
“It completely humbles me to see how God uses our ideas,” Boen said. “It brings tears to my eyes to hear about what happened in Venezuela. It’s an awesome feeling to know that I am a part of God’s plans.”