For 12 days during the summer of 2016, Sabercats Baseball head coach Gary Garrison visited a country that he has often frequented – a hotbed of baseball which is the Dominican Republic.
This was the eighth time that the former Maranatha baseball player has visited the Dominican Republic, as each time the trip presents an opportunity to combine two of his passions: the teaching of baseball and the preaching of the Gospel.
Garrison worked as a site administrator with a team of 30 men to conduct baseball clinics and a 30-minute Gospel presentation each day for approximately 160 boys aged 8-12.
"The Dominican people have regularly expressed their gratitude and appreciation for our service to their boys and community," stated Garrison. "The Dominican people are so happy with what little they have. Approximately 60 boys made salvation professions at my location. There are also two other sites that we service. As best as we can tell, about 200 boys made a decision for Christ."
"I am blessed to be able to use baseball as a ministry tool to further the cause of Christ. I love the sport of baseball, but I desire to use it as a means to reach people with the Gospel."
While Garrison was a lone representative of Maranatha last summer, he plans to return to the Dominican Republic with the Sabercats baseball team during March of 2019, which will mark the third time that the team has traveled there. Garrison traveled down with the team in 2011 and again in 2015.
Garrison noted that the trip is a strong leadership development opportunity for the student-athletes on the MBU Baseball team. "The trip requires them to get out of their comfort zone and focus on the needs of the Dominican boys. The week in the D.R. is a tremendous team building exercise for us. The accommodations there make it necessary to co-exist in a tight space and adjust to life different from what it is in the U.S. The amount of team bonding that takes place is tremendous!"
According to Garrison, the format of the trips in 2011 and 2015 was the same: baseball was taught and the Gospel clearly presented.
"In 2011 there were approximately 60 salvation decisions made, and our numbers estimate that 62 salvation decisions were made [in 2015]."
The athletes from the MBU Baseball Team recognize the unique opportunity, as most of the team members raise money to be a part of it. Garrison noted that 13 of 17 players made the trip in 2015 while 13 of 18 were a part of the 2011 team.
"Thanks to all who contribute financially and prayerfully to allow us to take such a life-changing trip! Global Encounters has been tremendous each time we have taken this trip! We are very eager to get back there in 2019, Lord willing."
For more on Garrison and the Sabercats Baseball Team, visit their team page here.
Clockwise from top left: Garrison (back row, central) with part of the instructional staff; A "Gospel Station" at one of the clinic sites; Garrison sharing the gospel with a translator at one of the clinic sites; Garrison with a Dominican national.