‘Field of Dreams:’ Working together for God
“Field of Dreams.” Do you remember the movie by that name? It was the story of the magical Base Ball diamond that Ray Kinsella built on the family farm just outside of Dyersville, Ia. And, do you remember the memorable and carefully crafted quote that came from that movie, “If you build it, they will come.” In the movie, Ray, played by veteran actor Kevin Kostener, did build that baseball field. And they came. The story of the Field of Dreams is the story of dreams come true. It is an “out of this world’ baseball story – a story of teamwork. And, it is the story of working together to achieve an uncommon, but mutual purpose.
The following is a paragraph from the Field of Dreams website:
“Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa – a place of fertile soil, traditional values and simple pleasure. And in Dyersville, Ia., at the 91-year-old Lansing family farm with its quaint, and oh-so-recognizable house, baseball still ranks as a favorite pastime for all ages. What better place to carve a baseball diamond from a cornfield and to make a movie about pursuing one’s dream, no matter how much effort it takes? Field of Dreams, released in 1989,…has inspired millions. Welcome to this home, this farm, this baseball field, this little piece of heaven on earth. Welcome to this place…where dreams can come true.”
Now, let me tell you about another field of dreams. This one is a field in east central Missouri. It is a field in the Cape Girardeau county community of Crosstown. This story, also, is a story of teamwork. It is another example of working together. In this case, a team of Missouri Baptist volunteers working together to achieve an uncommon, but mutual purpose.
Some of you will remember when the sanctuary and parsonage of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Crosstown was destroyed in a tornado. Many of you have seen the picture in The Pathway of the steps that used to lead to the front door of the church. The name Bethlehem Baptist Church is prominently displayed on the front of those steps. And those steps were the only thing left of that church. The tornado destroyed the church building. But it could not destroy the foundation of the church.
On Saturday morning, March 3, 2007, 63 people, mostly from the Cape Girardeau Association, gathered in a field next to what used to be the parsonage and sanctuary of the Bethlehem Baptist Church. We were there to pick up the last pieces of debris, evidence of lives that had been shattered by a fierce storm. The first thing we did was to line up side by side. I was reminded of what we called “police call” in the army. We would line up side by side so that nothing would be missed, and in a straight line, we walked that field picking up trash, pieces of shingles and other roofing materials, and a few personal items. A part of the significance of the day was that fact that we worked that field together. In that field, Baptists from several different Missouri Baptist churches came together to clean up that field. And in one morning, Missouri Baptists from at least three associations and more than fifteen churches came together to accomplish what would have taken a multitude of hours and many days, perhaps weeks, if it had been left to one small church. Most of the significance of the day was the importance of the cooperation of God’s people working together in a field of dreams.
There also was significance in the items we picked up. Admittedly, we picked up a lot of trash – lots of siding, roofing shingles and all kinds of debris. But every now and then, we also would run across personal items – family pictures, more often portions of family pictures. At one point, I remember reaching down to pick up something that appeared to be just another piece storm debris, only to realize that it was a very special memento. It was a paper doll. For some that paper doll is an insignificant and easily replaceable toy. Still, I wondered about the hours of enjoyment that paper doll had brought to a little girl. I wondered, would I find other paper garments that made up the paper doll’s wardrobe? Or, would I find other pieces of a paper doll set? I wondered about the daydreams that may have been a part of a child’s playtime? I realized again that we really were working in a field of dreams.
But, there is still another story of a Field of Dreams. This one also is the story of dreams come true. And, it is the story of working together to achieve an uncommon, but mutual purpose – God’s purpose for mankind. In this story, God’s people come together to work in the foreign mission field and the home mission field – in “…Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, even to the end of the earth.” In this story, God’s people called Southern Baptists come together to work in fields that are “…white unto harvest.” The Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention is a dream come true for thousands of missionaries, seminary students and hundreds of thousands of lost people around the world. Last year, in the Cooperative program field of dreams, Southern Baptists came together and worked together to baptize more than 831,000 new believers. Currently the Cooperative Program field of dreams funds more than 10,500 missionaries around the world – 5,100+ North American missionaries started more than 1,700 new churches in the United States, and 5,400+ international missionaries serving in more than 1,200 different people groups and nations around the world. The Cooperative Program field of dreams presently is providing seminary education for more the 15,300 future ministers of the Gospel. Since 1925 Southern Baptists have been dreaming a big dream of cooperating together to reach the world for Christ – and through the power God, our dreams are coming true.
Concerning Ray Kinsella and a family farm outside of Dyersville, Ia., the question was asked “Is this heaven?” The answer, of course was “No.” Still, that field of dreams was described as a “…little piece of heaven on earth…this place where dreams can come true.” Likewise, through the leadership and power of the Holy Spirit, and because of the teamwork of Missouri Southern Baptists utilizing the Cooperative Program, the dream of sharing the Gospel throughout the Show-Me state and the world can be another dream come true!