Cardinals, fans enjoy another CFD
ST. LOUIS – Members of the Christian Family Day (CFD) Committee turned Party Suite 218 at Busch Stadium into a house of prayer in the middle of the game July 15 between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Prayers were voiced for such things as hearts being softened, players speaking Christian testimonies after the game with courage, and clarity for the main speaker during the CFD festivities, former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel. Harold Hendrick, KSIV-AM radio host and a member of First Baptist Church, Ferguson, who serves as a consultant to the committee, had the honor of closing in prayer as the Cardinals, trailing 1-0, came up to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Hendrick prayed that the spiritual fruit that God intended for this day, the 16th annual CFD, would fully occur in that “You may mercifully work through Your people, that You might let us be clean, holy and pure vessels.”
The Cardinals went on to win the game, 2-1, in 10 innings. It was their 15th victory in 16 tries on CFD.
On a hot, humid day that reached a peak temperature of 95 degrees during the game, Missouri Baptists worked diligently within an army of Gospel soldiers as part of a record-setting evangelistic blitz. Baseball cards with Christian testimonies of Cardinal players like first baseman Pujols, outfielder So Taguchi, pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina were distributed throughout Busch Stadium. An estimated 60,000 cards were distributed, topping last season’s record of 50,000.
“Faces just lit up whenever we said Pujols,” said John Childers, pastor of South County Baptist Church in St. Louis, who handed out cards at Gate 1. “It’s a tremendous way to get the Gospel out. This (Busch Stadium) is the marketplace. This is the city center, really, of St. Louis.”
Red No. 5 jerseys filled the stands in honor of Pujols, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player. He is a member of West County Community Church in Wildwood, which is a Missouri Baptist congregation, and his wife, Deidre, is heavily involved in CFD. She felt led to pray for the players in the Suite 218 prayer meeting.
Cardinals’ management was thrilled to sell 46,068 tickets for the game—the most ever for a single game in the first year of the new stadium. South County purchased the most tickets (200) among Christian churches and organizations participating, thus earning the right to perform “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. The church chose to send out its ukulele choir accompanied by some child singers.
Childers, who began serving as South County’s pastor last November, estimated that 30-40 percent of the church’s bloc of 200 tickets went to non-members, many of whom are unchurched.
“We’re hoping to build some bridges through this today,” he said.
The spirit of CFD is all about building a bridge from the saved to the lost. This can take on several forms before, during and after the game. For example, a pre-game party at a nearby park featured free sandwiches, ice cream, games, entertainment and a Gospel presentation for underprivileged youth. The goal of each CFD is to treat about 3,000 of these children to a Major League Baseball game that they could not otherwise afford.
Taguchi built a bridge to the Japanese-American community by agreeing to have his testimony card printed in Japanese for the first time—something he had told organizers he would not feel comfortable signing off on until he had read through his Bible.
Ed Moncada, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) director of international student ministries, worked to bring about 30 Japanese students, mostly from Washington University, to the game. Many were wore out by the heat and chose to go home, but about a dozen came toward the first base dugout as the CFD program began. They were hoping to get a chance to speak with Taguchi, but when Moncada heard that the outfielder needed to sign autographs for another group, he figured the Japanese group would be disappointed. Instead Taguchi finished the first signing and stayed in the ballpark, walking right up to his fellow countrymen and taking plenty of time to sign cards, caps, balls and gloves for them as they talked in Japanese.
“He went out of the whole agenda to do that,” Moncada said, marveling. “A whole day like this, in the heat, running out there, you’re dead tired. That was just going the extra mile. That shows a strong, strong testimony.”
CFD officials decided to have Taguchi’s wife, Emiko, translate questions into Japanese during the program so that Taguchi could respond in Japanese. At one point she said her husband played professional baseball for 10 years in Japan but never really enjoyed it, because the Japanese take baseball very seriously. “Now he started enjoying playing baseball because of Jesus Christ,” Emiko Taguchi said.
On the back of his baseball card, Taguchi wrote that courage is an important part of his heritage.
“I am in debt to Christ who had the courage to die on a cross for my sins,” he wrote. “Joshua 1:9 is my favorite verse for that reason. The Cross is a wonderful thing.”
Pujols, who hit his 31st home run to give the Cardinals an opportunity to win the game in extra innings, explained that the question that helped him convert to Christ was, “Do you want to go to heaven, or do you want to go to hell?”
Relief pitcher Braden Looper, the winning pitcher, followed Pujols out of the dugout to testify of the saving power of Jesus. At the close of the program, Wuerffel explained that Jesus Christ is the only certain pathway to paradise.
“Do you know this Jesus?” Wuerffel said. “Have you seen God in His holiness? Have you really dealt with the motive of the sin in your heart? Have you seen Jesus as the only Way, and have you ever got on your knees and asked Him into your heart?”
More than 1.1 million of the Cardinals’ Christian baseball cards have been handed out over the last seven years at CFD.