When close friends Mike Winslett and Brian Morgan came up with the idea for Baseball4Christ eight years ago, there was no way to know just how big the summer mission trip would become.
All they wanted was a way to combine their love of baseball with spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in impoverished parts of the world.
Since its humble beginnings, Baseball4Christ has gone all but one year to the Yucatan Peninsula, where it has put on baseball clinics, played games against other high school-aged teams in Mexico and ministered to low-income families.
Baseball4Christ has evolved into a life-changing ministry for all who make the trek, and for those who are touched by the group of local players’ visits.
For the second year in a row, all five Coweta County high schools are represented with players from East Coweta, Newnan, Northgate, Trinity Christian and The Heritage School set to make the trip on June 17.
Members of this year’s squad from East Coweta include Zack Bruce, Ryan Dyal, Mason Meyer, Devonte Brown and Coleman Wood.
Newnan’s Andrew Lewis, Jacob Blair, Elijah Boone and Bennett Rowan will represent the Cougars.
Northgate’s Patrick Ragan, Patrick Pitzer and Parker Baxter will represent the Vikings.
Trinity’s Jake Elrod and Matt Holloway, as well as Heritage’s Jay Macke, also will make the trip.
Graduate assistants for this year’s trip include Carson Balliew, Thomas Leone, Dalton Byrom, Sam Sowerbrower and Jamie Holloway.
Tim Lowery will serve as the coach for this year’s team, and Rhodes Skinner as the pastor.
“It’s amazing how big this has become,” Winslett said. “We have had to turn people away who really want to go on the trip.”
A year ago, the Baseball4Christ team went 2-1-1, and this year the squad will again play a handful of contests, starting just hours after they land when they take on the Bon-fil Tigers.
On Monday, the Baseball4Christ team will play a local college team at Cancun Professional Stadium.
Baseball4Christ will make a two-hour bus ride on Tuesday to play a high school team in Puerto Carrillo.
However, the trip is about much more than baseball. The team is helping local pastors perform various types of work.
Baseball4Christ members will work on local youth ball fields that have fallen into disrepair over the years.
One of the highlights of the trip has always been the team’s chance to bond with the children in the community.
Despite some language barriers, the players are often treated like celebrities during the trip.
This year, they will conduct a vacation Bible School, as well as visit a school where they will teach the students basic English.
Before leaving on their trip, the Baseball4Christ team will play a game against Loganville Fellowship of Christian Athletes on June 15th at 7 p.m at Newnan High School.