This is a powerful TED talk by Zak Ebrahim who is the son of the man who planned the bombing of the World Trade Center. Hearing Zak gives me hope in the midst of all the craziness happening around the world.
One year ago tonight my father, Dave King, and I, along with my brother-in-law, Jamie Roach and family friend Topher Philgreen, attended a special KC Royals baseball game. It wasn't special because the Royals won, they didn't. It wasn't special because they were still in a pennant race, they really weren't. It was special because it was the last public outing of my father just nine days before he died.
It was special because my father and I really had a thing for baseball. We loved the game and we loved the Royals. During my father's battle for his life last summer we had moments of high hopes for the Royals, but alas... like the last, nearly three decades of Royals' baseball, it, once again, was not meant to be. It was special because we got to go into the Royals' broadcast booth before the game to hangout with broadcasters Ryan Lefebvre, Rex Hudler and Denny Matthews. I wrote about it here.
Today, I thought a lot about my father. It's hard to believe a year has passed by so quickly. I wish he could have experienced what the Royals are doing right now. My father and I used to go to Municipal Stadium to watch the KC Athletics play. He consoled me when Charlie Finley decided to move the team to Oakland, I cried. He took me to watch our new team, the Royals, play at Municipal. He took me several times a month to monitor the progress of the new stadium which would become Kauffman Stadium. We had all those great years of rooting for our team in the golden '80's. I celebrated with him when we won the World Series. I wish he could have experienced this season. I hope my kids get the joy of experiencing a World Series (and a Super Bowl, come on Chiefs).
My father and I had a deeper connection than just baseball. He loved Jesus and served God faithfully and he loved to pray. I've thought about him during this pilgrimage I'm currently on. I've though about him during the offices of prayer we've attended in the Cathedral in Chester, at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Palace and today in Canterbury Cathedral. Yes, we connected on the deep level of our Christian faith, but that doesn't diminish the sweet and passionate connection we had over baseball.
He was a coach to me in life and he was my baseball coach for nearly a decade as a child and teenager. I miss you coach.
My friend Jeremy Affeldt, a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, just celebrated his 35th birthday, which coincided with back to back wins on consecutive days. Jeremy has won two World Series Championships with the Giants and factored significantly in the titles. He was his team's 2011 nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award and was voted MLB Setup Man of the Year in 2009. Affeldt was also recognized for his anti-slavery efforts with a nomination for the Jefferson Award for Public Service. So far this year Jeremy is once again showing that he is one of the premiere relievers in the major leagues, pitching in 24 games with 19 strikeouts, 9 holds and a 1.71 ERA. And, I might add, the Giants are the hottest team in baseball with a 41-21 record.
All that to say, Jeremy is a better human being than he is a baseball player. Baseball player doesn't define Jeremy, his faith in Jesus Christ does.
That is the introduction to say, if your father hasn't read Jeremy's book To Stir aMovement,do something special for your father on Father's Day and give him this book. Then you can read it after he is done. It is interesting, inspiring and informative. Act now, and you will have it in time.
We have been able to work closely together to grow Something to Eat™ into something unique that not only provides food for those who are hungry but challenges young people to lean into the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25.
The best part of this video is that it features Larisa, who is much better looking than Jeremy and the dynamos in their relationship.
From now until May 4, 2012 you can get a free digital book entitled A Mother's Journey of Love, Loss and Life Beyond, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Apple. Let me explain my connection with this book.
Recently, I received an email from Jennifer Scalise, a mother who
wanted to share a story with me about her daughter, Brooke. Just a few weeks after Brooke’s second summer
at Youthfront Camp West, while on vacation with her family, she was killed in a
negligent accident caused by a tour operator in Costa Rica. This senseless tragedy became national
news. Ultimately Brooke’s mom
wrote a book about her story.
Jennifer has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, Good Morning America,
and World News with Diane Sawyer to tell Brooke’s story.
In her book Jennifer describes
how their family did not go to church but Brooke had gone to camp (at
Youthfront) and had become involved in church. Brooke had become increasingly vocal about her love for
Jesus Christ. Her mom spoke about
how gentle yet consistent Brooke was about her faith in God. The book chronicles the process of her
family’s discovery of Brooke’s deep faith and love for Jesus Christ by reading
her Youthfront Camp Journals after her death. As I read Jennifer’s book A MOTHER’S JOURNEY of Love, Loss and Life Beyond, I
found myself moved to tears on more than one occasion.
summer that Brooke died was the summer we focused on Jesus’ parables in Luke
15. It was amazing in the
book to see Brooke's own handwritten words in her Youthfront camper
manual. She wrote about her life
with Jesus. She revealed how the
parable of the Prodigal Son had impacted her. In the camper manual we had the picture of Rembrandt's
painting of The Return of the Prodigal Son. Brooke’s mom included this picture in her book and wrote
about it, “We found a picture of The Return of the Prodigal
Son by Rembrandt, on which Brooke had written “God” with an arrow to
the man depicting God and then “me” with an arrow to the son kneeling in front
of God. We were shocked Brooke would think this way and would have viewed
herself as the child kneeling in front of God.”
I told Brooke’s mom, “We get to serve thousands of young
people and minister to them. We try to do this with a generous posture
that creates space for their humanity. Too many camps and churches try to
force young people into a confining human-created mold when what is really
needed is an environment that allows young people to lean into their own God
shaped humanity. Brooke definitely embraced Jesus Christ and allowed her
spirit to be set free by God's life-giving spirit.
Brooke’s mom continues, “Much
later, a friend looking at the picture discovered something I had missed.
Brooke had also drawn and circled a distinctive mark on the back of the head of
the son (the person she felt depicted her), a mark in the exact spot and in
accurate proportion to what I would later learn was the most severe of Brooke’s
injuries, and ultimately, the cause of death. Stunned, I moved in a fog for
days after finding this, overwhelmed by the magnitude of what it proved.
all surprised me. Brooke and I were extremely close. She had always confided in
me about everything. Our love was so strong. I have many letters that she wrote
to me in which she tells me that I am her best friend and we shared a bond like
no other. But, as close as we were, I will admit that I was shocked to find out
I was not what mattered most in her life. As we pored through what were now the
greatest gifts of my life, I found a sheet that she had filled out at school,
titled ‘Explore Your Future.’ Under ‘Who do you look up to?’ Brooke listed God,
Jesus, and my parents. Under ‘What is important to you?’ she had written: ‘God,
my family, and friends are all important to me.’ Not many 12 year olds would
write this on a school worksheet in a public school. Seeing this and the other
documents made me realize how her love for God was greater than even her love
for me and that she viewed herself as God’s child first. As devastated as I
was, it gave me peace knowing Brooke was with who she loved most.”
Brooke’s family is thankful to Youthfront for introducing
her into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. I am also thankful that Brooke’s story also involves an
extension of God’s grace into the life of the entire family. This happens all the time. This is our mission and Brooke’s story
is one of thousands of beautiful stories of young people transformed by Jesus
Christ through Youthfront’s ministries.
On Baseball's Opening Day, Youthfront supporter, friend and associate Jeremy Affeldt
releases his first book taking readers off the field and into his life
story. The story of Jeremy’s relationship with our President Mike
and his involvement in our ministry, as well as details of his active
participation with Youthfront’s Something to Eat™ initiative are
featured prominently in the book. Expected to make multiple
best-seller lists, this book offers a compelling, page-turning story for
all readers. Another fan of Youthfront and five time Major League All
Star, Mike Sweeney says, “Jeremy Affeldt may be a two-time World Series
champion and one of the greatest left-handed relievers in major league
baseball but that is just the tip of the iceberg as to the man that he
is. As you will read in this book, Jeremy Affeldt is not defined by
baseball. He is defined and validated as a child and follower of the
most high God.”
Affeldt, pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, tells of the ups and
downs of his life and major league career beginning with his childhood
spent in a military family, the impact his parents had on his life, and
his tumultuous high school years. Affeldt admits that he was often an
uncaring, self-centered athlete who was difficult for his parents and
teachers. So much so, that his dad kicked him out of the home on more
than one occasion. Although he attended a Christian school, Jeremy
wasn’t buying any of it until a series of events led him to see his need
After being kicked out of games and sitting the bench because of his
behaviors and his attitude, one of his coaches gave him books on
attitude and anger control as well as scriptures that Jeremy read mainly
so he wouldn’t have to watch the games from the stands. As the Bible
began to come alive for him, he was also influenced by God’s
transforming work in the life of another student who had been Jeremy’s
archenemy. That was the beginning of Jeremy’s close walk with Christ.
Jeremy Affeldt tells of his opportunities in baseball, his marriage
to his high school sweetheart and, of course, his success including two
World Series Championships – after many setbacks and injuries – in the
The book includes Jeremy Affedlt’s passion for social justice and his
humanitarian endeavors as he continues to use his time and finances to
do God’s work throughout the world. Available now, discover the side
of Jeremy that thrives off the field; the side that is passionate about
freeing the slave, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty and
seeking justice for the oppressed.
Youthfront partnered with Generation Alive and Able Works to mobilize
450 high school students in East Palo Alto to package 100,000 meals for
our Something to Eat™ initiative. East Palo Alto is divided from Palo
Alto by a freeway. Palo Alto is a very wealthy area fueled by the
success of the Silicon Valley. Apple, Google and Facebook are some of
the corporate success connected to Palo Alto. East Palo Alto lies in
stark contrast to Palo Alto. About 65% of the residents of East Palo
Alto are Hispanic/Latino, 16% are African-American, and 10% Pacific
Islander/Asian. Several years ago, Michelle Pfeiffer starred in the
movie Dangerous Minds as a teacher, teaching a classroom of East Palo
Alto high school students whose lives were being destroyed by drugs,
gang involvement, illicit sex, crime, etc. For a young person, living in
East Palo Alto can still be a dangerous reality. In the few months
before our Something to Eat™ event several young people were killed
through drug and gang violence. The names Something to Eat™ and
Something to Drink™ come from Matthew 25 when Jesus led us to imagine
that when someone is hungry or thirsty and we give them food or water it
is the same as giving food and drink to Jesus.
than 450 young people from this under-resourced community moved outside
of the dominating and destructive script many of them feel trapped in
and instead worked to raise money to provide food for those around the
world who are suffering from starvation. Most of these young people
have grown up with a script that imprisons them into thinking that they
are stuck forever in a story that centers around poverty, drugs, gangs,
crime and violence. I wish you could have been an eyewitness to what
happened in this Something to EatTM event. We worked hard all day and
yet, these teenagers didn’t even want to take a break. We stopped for
short five minute breaks throughout the event to talk and reflect on
why we were doing what we were doing – information about the world
hunger crises, about the importance of taking care of each other along
with inspirational thoughts. We had local artists perform Street Poetry
that was uplifting and spiritually rich. It was amazing to see what was
The East Palo Alto Police Captain spent the day with us. He was so
enthused that he was on the phone talking to the news media reminding
them that they were all at the recent murder scene involving young
people and they needed to come and see the good things young people were
doing. I got into a conversation with the Police Captain, an East Palo
Alto School Board member and a former mayor of the city. We talked
about how important it was to provide the opportunity for these young
people to participate in an alternative script to the broken scripts
that they had grown up with and ensnared by. We agreed that these young
peoples’ imaginations were being unleashed and this has the potential to
alter their life scripts forever. It was also cool to learn that the
Police Captain grew up in Kansas City and had served our country for
many years as a presidential appointed U.S. Marshall
Albert Einstein declared, “Imagination is more important than
knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and
understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”
I believe Youthfront’s mission to bring youth into a growing
relationship with Jesus Christ happens because we embrace the most
powerful script of all – the Gospel. The Gospel unveils a story that unleashes the imagination of those who have
ears to hear. The Gospel story has the power to render other scripts
impotent. Think of Jesus’ own disciples. They fled in fear when he was
arrested. They witnessed his crucifixion. They were hiding in a state of
dreadful trepidation. And when a few of Jesus’ followers, mostly women,
went to his tomb the Gospel story breaks forth with the declaration “He
is not here, he has risen!” Still the disciples hid in disarray and confusion. Although a few were convinced
that Jesus Christ was resurrected, some, Thomas for instance still
didn’t have the imagination to believe that the Gospel proclamation that
Jesus was risen could be true. And then he saw Jesus. Thomas declared,
“My Lord and my God!” I believe the Christian story properly told
stirs the imagination of the listener.
After serving in Croc on the Youthfront Mexico Team for the last seven
years I am back in the states where I live and serve in the Argentine of
Kansas City for Youthfront’s Missional Journeys program. The transition
was welcome, and though at times difficult, I am seeing each day why
God has me back in Kansas City. This past December I had the opportunity
to join Austin Averill and Mike King in San Francisco where I witnessed
Local Youth Demonstrates Passion for Giving Something to Eat™
I have often had youth talk to me about facilitating a Something to
Eat™ meal packaging experience in their schools or with their churches.
Most times the logistics and effort required to host an event causes a
youth to stop calling or emailing in order to pursue a community service
project with less moving parts. For Kyle Sims there was no backing
down. Kyle began discussing what it would take to host an event in
August 2012 with a goal of packaging 10,000 meals. By November 11, 2012
he had handed out flyers, invited his peers, and spoke at church
services until he had raised funds for 14,256 meals with an extra $450
to go towards Something to Drink™ clean water projects.
Right now is the second best time of the year, if you are a true baseball fan (unless your team is actually playing in the World Series, in which case it's the best time of the year, GO GIANTS). For most, the best time of the year is Spring Training when all have hope for a future that involves your team winning a World Series pennant.
My friend, Ethan Bryan, has written a book that captures the hope of Spring Training but deepens this hope for all. A hope in life and faith that goes way beyond the joy of your team winning the World Series.
From the Back Cover, "What can baseball teach us about living in the way of Jesus? Can going
to a baseball game be an exercise in spiritual formation? Run Home & Take a Bow shares
twenty insightful stories of the intersection of baseball and faith.
Grab a Dr Pepper and your glove and enjoy the journey."
Here's what people, including me, are saying about Run Home and Take a Bow:
Every baseball fan knows
the ballpark invites solitude, contrition, human solidarity, joy, and
enlightenment. Sit with baseball contemplative Ethan Bryan as he opens up the
simple truth of human living through one season with the Kansas City Royals.
Bryan’s heartfelt stories will call you back to the touchstones that give life
meaning—faith, family, gratitude, persistence, and play.
Director of the Center for Engaged Compassion
Author of Wonder, Fear, and Longing: A Book of Prayers.
book is as life giving as Opening Day and it’s as sensory as pounding your
glove and smelling the leather. If you are passionate about baseball
you will love this book. If you are not a baseball fan, just a lover of
great stories then read this book and you will be inspired, but beware, you
might just become a baseball fan.
President of Youthfront
Author and Editor of Immerse Journal
a big sports fan, and care little about the K.C. Royals, and I loved this book!
You will too, I'm sure. Just a few pages in, you just know that
Ethan Bryan is a truly good man, a caring dad, a fine writer, and a great
storyteller. His childlike joy in his beloved game is a delight to behold
and along the way you will meet some true athletic heros, from Hall of Fame
stars to historic sports writers and some memorably diehard fans. And
there is a caste of characters unrelated to the game, from Mike the Theologian
and Chick-fil-A Jake to Bryan's sweet baseball-loving daughters, not to mention
bunches of Bible guys, drawn vividly from the pages of Holy Scripture as
they are set alongside the boys of summer. This is light reading that
pitches some serious life lessons, is as entertaining as peanuts during the 7th
inning stretch and, like a last-ditch homer in the bottom of the 9th, has you
on your feet, leaving truly inspired. Take a bow, Ethan, author and
Owner, Hearts & Minds Books
been taught not to talk about politics and religion in polite company, two of
the three most interesting things in life worth talking about. So thank God for
baseball. And thank God for Ethan Bryan's reflections on life, faith,
friendship, and the greatest game ever invented.
Senior Pastor of Brentwood Christian Church in Springfield, MO
Author of Preaching After God