Bessemer Church sees God moving in baseball team and families
It was Jeremy Beck’s ninth year coaching his son’s baseball team, and he felt like he was failing.
“A lot of the kids in his class were starting to make bad choices and I worried as a father,” he said.
He felt like he could have been more intentional with the time he spent with the boys on his Eagles team. So Beck, who is also pastor at Grant Street Baptist Church in Bessemer, “has a burden.”
“We always prayed after our games, and I always mentioned the gospel when I could,” Beck said. “But being intentional is where I failed.”
So, in January, he began guiding the group of 12-year-old boys through a devotional book after each workout.
“We did this for six or seven weeks and really planted seeds, and then in March I felt like it was time to present the gospel,” Beck said.
He made them close their eyes – just so they wouldn’t do anything because the other boys were doing it – and asked if any of them would like to start a relationship with Jesus. Everyone except his son and his assistant coach’s son raised their hands.
Just the beginning
“I was like, ‘Well, maybe they didn’t get me,’ so I asked them again,” Beck said.
The same has happened.
“I became overwhelmed and emotional,” he said. “I explained what that meant with each of them and said, ‘If you mean it, I want you to come home and tell your parents what you did.’ The next day, they told their parents and contacted me to baptize them.
Soon he would see that this was just the beginning.
A few nights later, one of the moms showed up for team training with the younger sister of one of the boys. She had heard her brother talk about Jesus and wanted to know how she could follow him too.
So Beck set down with her and lead her to Christ right there.
He started planning a big team baptism in April in Grant Street, which would include the little sister.
But there was still more.
The day before the service, Beck received a call from the father of one of the boys.
“He wanted to talk about baptism. He said, “I don’t know what that decision is, but I’ve seen so many changes in these boys that I want this in my life,” Beck recalls.
Beck led him to the Lord and the next day he gathered the boys together in the conference hall of the church, and the father told them what had happened and that he was going to be baptized with his son.
“It was very emotional,” Beck said.
That day the baptismal service was standing
only. And again, there was still more to come.
“After the service, one of the grandfathers came to me with tears in his eyes and said:
“I’ll see you on Sunday,” Beck said. “I later found out that he hadn’t set foot in a church for 35 years, but had come that day because he would do anything for his grandson.
On the way back to her office, a grandmother stopped Beck and said her grandson attended the service and wanted to make a decision as well.
Beck explained to him what it meant to follow Jesus – that it wasn’t just about being a cool baseball player, it was about living for the Lord – and the boy said he understood and wanted to go all the way.
After Beck finished praying with the boy, he looked up and the grandmother had tears in her eyes.
“I need Jesus”
“She looked at me and said, ‘Pastor, I am lost and I need Jesus too,’” he recalls. “She prayed to receive Christ too.”
From there, God’s work in the community continued to snowball and Beck was stunned. He received a text from the grandfather who said he would be back the following Sunday to ask Beck to meet him before that. When they did, he told Beck that he tried a variety of churches when he was younger, but none of them stayed. Finally, he had stopped going.
That day he had something he needed to get answered.
“He said, ‘Pastor, I have a question for you – when you got into the baptismal water, who was the man in the water with you?’ He told me that another man stepped in with me, looked him straight in the eye and held out his hands, ”Beck said.
“I said to him, ‘All I know is that Jesus is trying to get your attention.’ “
On that day, the man began a relationship with Jesus, as did another of his grandsons whom he had brought with him.
And another grandson approached Beck one day in the church parking lot, saying he couldn’t shake a sense of overwhelming conviction. When Beck led him to Christ, his mother was standing nearby. She said that she had not been a believer but had decided to follow Jesus now as well.
“She said, ‘I’ve seen so many changes in my family, I want to follow Jesus too,” Beck said.
And it didn’t stop there.
One of the fathers recently apologized to his sons in front of the Eagles baseball team, saying he had rejected his sons’ spiritual matters in the past and now wanted to get them to follow Jesus.
“He’s been coming to church ever since,” Beck said.
The story continues
And others approached Beck to ask him questions. It is clear that God is working in their life, he said. “This story is to continue. “
Now, at the end of practice, the Eagles baseball team goes around and goes through the scriptures together.
“Even their parents are joining us and we all have prayer time together afterwards,” Beck said.
After all the boys decided to follow Jesus, they started asking the opposing teams – on their own – if they wanted to join the Eagles on the mound for prayer, and they led him.
“We just stand back in tears watching God use them,” he said.
And they’ve seen that a lot – recently the team went all the way to winning the Dizzy Dean Freshman World Series.
Beck said he just prayed that their story would “pay attention to Christ.”
Beck said it was a “beautiful, crazy story”.
“As a father, there is this tremendous freedom to know that I was afraid they would make bad choices, and now they can walk this faith path side by side,” he said.
David Hobson, Mud Creek Baptist Association director of missions, said it was amazing to see the change at Grant Street Baptist since Beck became a pastor.
“The church has an excitement, and they’ve become a shining example that God can use a small church in incredible ways,” he said.