I had the opportunity to visit Florida back in 1991 with my Aunt, sister, and brother...
Brother, Sister, and I in front of the Imagination Center of Disney World's Epcot Center
We visited Disney World-yeah! A every childhood dream! I got to know more people from this area when I met Buddy Walker, a pastor from Umatilla (by Orlando), who taught at a 10-week Summer Institute of Ministry Training School through my local church in 1999 (after graduating from UMM in Morris). Then I met the most people from Florida in one area in one event called All American City Finalist-2004 competition in Atlanta, GA. I decided to do this website today (Monday, August 16th of 2004) after a devastating hurricane (Charley) in Florida this past weekend=>
"Our final stop on our 2006 Florida Trip. This is not one of my favorite videos, video wise, due to the fact I DIDN'T have my tripod with me on these days...Please excuse the shaking within the video. It is a REAL pet-peeve of mine...But enjoy anyhow. This video, though, is one of my favorites overall due to the shots that I did get, the timing to the music, and just the whole memories tied into it.
Music: U2 - Beautiful Day
Alyssa's Trip (April 10th of 2008
"Alyssa's first trip to Disney World-Epcot Center...."
" Some popular stars of Disney perform at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World..."
Hurricane 2004 Season
Below are some e-mails from some AAC delegates reporting about the hurricane 2 weeks after (Thursday, August 26th 2004)
"Hi Sal - Thanks so much for your concern. Palm Bay was very fortunate
in that the storm passed about 60 miles to the west and north of our
area. The Orlando area had power outages for about a week, coupled with
many downed trees. Titusville, to the north, also had severe debris
problems. We were able to send some crews to help some of the other cities
that had much more serious damage.
The west coast of Florida (Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte) received a
direct hit and remains devastated. You might want to check through ICMA or
FEMA to see if there are any requests for assistance.
Thanks again for your email. Its nice to know that folks out there are
thinking of us during difficult times.
Hope to see you in Atlanta again next year.
Deputy City Manager
"Sal, this is Vincent Miller from the City of Lauderhill. Thanks for your concern but our area was spared any remnants of the storm"
Thank you for your thoughtful message. Fortunately for our community, Hurricane Charley passed away from the southeast coast of Florida. We had no impact at all. However, we do feel for our fellow Floridians on the west coast and are currently doing everything possible to assist them.
I wish you and your community well.
Cat 4: In the Path of Hurricane Charley (Part I)
"On a Friday the 13th in 2004 SW Florida was struck by a small yet devestating hurricane. Cat 4 is a comprehensive 30 min. documentary of one family during that event. Part I includes storm prep and the first half of the hurricane."
"Bill Horan, President and Chief Operating Officer of the relief group Operation Blessing, told CBN's The 700 Club that his organization teamed up with the Salvation Army to feed the hungry and give moral support to those in need. He said trucks were delivering food and other supplies, including ice and mobile kitchens to the Salvation Army, the world famous Protestant humanitarian aid organization."
"The hardest-hit areas appeared to be the retirement community of Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte in Charlotte County, though federal officials expanded the disaster aid zone to 25 counties on Sunday."
FRANCES Hurricane Frances - Jupiter, Florida - September 5, 2004 (YouTube.com) "Hurricane Frances was a long-track Cape Verde hurricane that reached a peak intensity of 145mph, Category Four, north of Puerto Rico. Moderate wind shear began to affect the storm and it crossed the Southeast and Central Bahamas as a Category Three with winds of 115-130mph."
Being sandwiched in between two powerful hurricanes, namely Charley and Frances, within a three-week period in central Florida was more than a man who began lifeï¿½s journey in a cradle of power ever wants to experience again. He says, ï¿½Once is enough in one lifetime and twice is too much.ï¿½
Mattox is the Director and Chief Executive Officer of H.E.A.R.T, a Missionary Training Institute, which is situated on land leased from Warner Southern College, Lake Wales, FL. They were hit hard by both hurricanes and from different directions. It is a missionary training center offering practical college courses designed to equip students to serve the poor in third world countries and other under developed areas of the world.
*Note: this hurricance did an unusual 360 turn back to Florida and Texas. The Evil of Hurricane Ivan - 9 Minutes of Raw! (YouTube.com) "Here was one mother of a storm! Hurricane Ivan devastated the Gulf Coast from Gulf Shores to Pensacola, Florida. Experience nine minutes of raw footage shot by Brian Osburn over the course of the storm!..."
"DEERFIELD BEACH, FLORIDA (ANS) -- Robin Mahfood, president and CEO of the Deerfield Beach, Florida-based Food For the Poor, reports that Hurricane Ivan destroyed many lives and property in Jamaica."
ï¿½Houses are flattened. Families in Portland Cottage helplessly watched their children swept away by raging floodwaters,ï¿½ said Mahfood in an e-mail to ministry supporters.
"Hurricane Andrew struck the US mainland in August 1992. As residents tried to cope with the destruction, scientists turned Florida into a huge laboratory. Teams of researchers descended on the state to measure the storm's impact on everything from building materials to tropical fish. Psychologists analyzed the hurricane's influence on children. Geographers mapped sunken boats. Marine scientists cataloged the damage done to reefs, sea grass, and mangroves. Criminologists studied price-gouging and the breakdown of social order.
The prophets of the Bible did a similar evaluation after spiritual disasters. They documented the personal, social, and environmental effects of turning away from the one true God (Isa. 1:1-9; Hag. 1:2-7).
In behalf of a loving God, Haggai urged his neighbors to give careful attention to what had happened. He noted the priority they were giving to their own comforts and wanted them to observe how dissatisfied and empty they still were.
If God didn't care, He wouldn't ask us to consider the time and effort we are spending on diminishing returns. If He didn't love us, He couldn't remind us of all that He has given us. God sees what has happened to us and knows how much we need to focus on Him today. — Mart De Haan
I would live for Thee, Lord Jesus,
Keep my eyes so turned toward Thee
That the world and all its system
May attract no part of me. —Graves
When Christ is the center of your interests, life will be in focus. "
*the church that Chuck Colson attends. H.O.T.C. performed here in January 2004... The next day, the Adler family took off for the Naples area of Florida for a few days of rest and a big ministry weekend the next weekend. The weather was mostly crummy--cool and rainy--but it was great compared to the 28 below zero that we heard that it was here in Minnesota. We did have 3 sunny days in the upper 70's that were truly wondrous and we got to watch the sun set on the ocean one evening and collect lots of cool sea creatures and shells on the shore. Then on Saturday and Sunday we led worship and sang songs from our Heart of the City CD's at the First Baptist Church in Naples--a church of about 5500 members which is also the church where Chuck Colson attends. Though more than half of the attendees were retirees, we were so well recieved and encouraged by them! Surprisingly, our latino song "I Will Praise Him" went over really big in all 3 services. And then it was a great blessing to find out that the church had already been singing my song "It is Good" for some time and it was one of the pastor's favorites! He didn't even know that I'd written it until we started the service on Saturday night. So on Sunday, we had the honor of singing that with their 150 voice choir, orchestra and praise band! It was a real blessing! We hope to bring the Heart of the City Worship Band there to do ministry in the future--God willing.-from the H.O.T.C. E-mail Newsletter Tuesday, February 3, 2004 4:25 PM
-History: Pensacola Revival in 1996
*I got saved (see personal testimony) the same year (spring of 96') through a visiting evangelist (Assembly of God in Morris, MN) from here I believe... Pensacola Update, from pastornet.net.au "The Spirit continues to fall among the young people - dramatically. One Saturday night service, multiplied hundreds of students, from grade school to college, were called to the front of the church. There were far too many to put on the platform, so they filled the front area. When we prayed for them in mass, the Spirit fell on them in awesome power, and most of them collapsed to the floor, consumed with God's presence. After we continued to worship and intercede for our schools ('God, give us our schools!'), we were about to dismiss the young people back to their seats when, suddenly and unexpectedly, some of them began to weep and wail in intercession...." Pentecost in Pensacola: the Brownsville revival - Brownsville section of Pensacola, Florida
Christian Century, August 27, 1997 by Leo Sandon "The revival began in the Brownsville Assembly of God Church on june 18, 1995. Since then more than 1.7 million people have attended the meetings, and more than 105,000 have responded to altar calls inviting them to receive salvation. Visitors sometimes wait for hours to get into the services, and even then may not be able to find room in the large sanctuary. Overflow crowds are seated in the congregation's chapel, and sometimes in tents outside...." Pensacola /Browsnville Revival, from angelfire.com
Fire for Jesus
" A powerfull movie with a great testemony from the Pensacola Revival"
*referred by site owner on Tuesday, November 25th of 2008 "..
Bringing Florida To Game Developers and Bringing Game Developers to Florida
flo-pd.net is a non-profit organization formed with the sole intent of nurturing and expanding the interactive multi-media industry in the state of Florida. Interactive multimedia, more commonly referred to as video games, comprises an industry with over $11 billion in sales annually in the United States. Yet, in spite of Florida's many positive attributes, Florida has only a handful of development studios presently residing here..."
Central Florida is home to America's favorite theme parks with so many things to do, you could go for days without doing the same thing twice. There are restaurants that will please everybody and shopping for every budget. Orlando is known as a family vacation destination but it's also a great place for singles, girlfriend getaways and romantic couple weekends. Orlando has nightclubs and dinner shows featuring world class entertainers. ...
"(April 14) -- James King was prepared. With water, trail mix, his Bible and a GPS-equipped phone, he entered the thick alligator-filled swampy woods on a solo journey to look for missing 11-year-old Nadia Bloom.
Wanting to get a jump on the day's search, King, 44, set out on his own at daybreak Tuesday to look for the little girl he knew from church. Nadia had vanished Friday from her Winter Springs, Fla., neighborhood, setting off an intense search for the long-haired fifth grader with Asperger's syndrome.
"I went in and then the Lord told me to follow where the sunrise was," he said today on NBC's "Today" show. "I would call 'Nadia.' Then I'd be praying and talking to the Lord.
"One time I said, "Nadia' and I heard, 'What?'" King said, recounting the moment he first made contact with Nadia on Tuesday morning, about two hours after entering an area that searchers had yet to comb. "And I said, 'Ah, I'm going that way.'"
King said they kept calling back and forth until he reached her. "There she was, sitting on a log," he said, "looking expectantly, like, 'You're finally here.'"
King calmly called 911 to report the rescue.
The police chief praised King's effort.
"He came out with her and for that, he's a hero," Winter Springs Police Chief Kevin Brunelle told AOL News in a phone interview today. "Right now everything we have doesn't say that Mr. King did anything inappropriate or broke any laws."
Brunelle said police will investigate all of the leads they received and will talk to Nadia again but didn't expect any suspects in the case. On Tuesday, Nadia told authorities that "she went for a walk and got lost and Mr. King found her," Brunelle said.
In the recording of the 911 call, King calmly states: "I've got her. I've got Nadia. OK, I'm in the middle of the swamp. I can give you my GPS coordinates off this Blackberry. I just got to figure out how to get them again."
The male dispatcher asks to speak with Nadia. "Hi, this is Nadia. I am the girl that got lost," she tells him, before asking for his name.
King said she was in good shape except for bug bites and dehydration and that she was barefoot.
He offered her an apple, while still on the phone with authorities.
"Sure an apple! I'd love an apple," Nadia said.
King had also brought toilet paper with him, intending on using it to leave a trail so he could exit the woods. But he realized he wouldn't be leaving the same way -- it was too dangerous -- so he used the toilet tissue to cover the tops of bushes so a helicopter could find them.
In the late morning, Nadia was carried out of the woods on a black sling, where her parents and younger sister were waiting.
Nadia's father, Jeff Bloom, hugged King, according to reports. "Things don't always turn out this way," he said. "We're so blessed."
Nadia said two things to officers after being rescued, Brunelle said: "Glad you guys found me. Can't believe you rescued me."
Nadia was released from a hospital Tuesday night and was said to be doing well.
Though he was called a hero, King was interviewed by police.
King said police checked his background and his car, but did not request that he take a polygraph test or give a DNA sample, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The paper said a check of a state database shows he does not have a criminal record.
King said on the "Today" show that the police treated him with professionalism, and he acknowledged the potential for skepticism.
"They're doing their job," he said. "They don't know who I am. Who's this guy? I wasn't a part of the official search party. They checked me out."
James King Finds Missing Nadia Bloom Alive
Set Me Free
"Awesome Human Video performance by, "Fusion" Student Ministries, New Destiny Church. Performed during the "Taking it to the Street Ministries" annual Christmas Outreach. An outdoor Christmas party for low income families, Senior Citizens and the homeless community in St. Petersburg, Fl"
"Eighty towering pine trees were toppled by the storm. Several recreational vehicles and modulars were destroyed, including the missionï¿½s guest units on the lakefront.
ï¿½This is a big blow,ï¿½ said PIONEERS-USA president Steve Richardson. ï¿½But we can thank God that no one was hurt, and trust Him for the days ahead.ï¿½...more (Orlando, Florida, August 16, 2004)-from Downers (UMM grad)
PRAYER REQUEST From : John D.
Sent : Thursday, September 2, 2004 12:30 PM
Subject : Here we go again!
Please be in prayer for us here as we brace ourselves for another hurricane. Our office is closed tomorrow but many people have left already today to prepare their homes. Since we are in an apartment, there isn't much to do except tape up the windows. We are planning to ride it out at home. Last time our power came back on pretty quickly because we're next door to one of the power company buildings, and next to that is a police station, so we're on a high priority grid. So anyway, please pray especially for Naomi, who wasn't thrilled about one hurricane and definitely doesn't want another! And while you're at it, please remember all my friends and supporters in Richmond, who got dumped on pretty hard earlier this week.
In between hurricanes we've been hard at work preparing for our next candidate program, which is the first week of October. We have been praying for 27 candidates. When Charley came we had about 3 confirmed, and now we're at 23! We praise God for raising up more workers; we may yet reach this lofty, but loosely held goal.
Thanks for standing with us as we weather the storms!
Peace to you and yours,
It looks like the prayers are being answered, check this out; however, it's not over yet-keep praying (9/5/04 @6:20p)=> "Tropical Update-
Frances downgraded to tropical storm
4:49 P.M. ET Sun.,Sep.5,2004
John Desjardins and Buzz Bernard, Sr. Meteorologists, The Weather Channel
Maximum sustained winds have decreased to 70 mph, as of 5 p.m. ET. Frances could regain hurricane strength over the Gulf of Mexico
Hurricane Warnings now extended to the Florida Panhandle from the mouth of the Suwannee River to Destin
Slow-moving storm crossing the Florida Peninsula. Inland flood threat, widespread power outages, extreme beach erosion. Isolated tornadoes are possible over portions of central and north Florida
Travel Advisory: Road, hotel and airport information
With the late afternoon advisory, the National Hurricane Center has downgraded Frances to a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 70 mph. However, this does not mean residents of Flordia can let their guard down. Wind gusts in excess of 40 mph will be widespread across much of the Peninsula. Heavy rain will also continue to fall in some areas of central and northern Florida. Already, over 13 inches of rain have inundated West Palm Beach, and similar totals are expected at spots on the central and northern peninsula by tomorrow morning. Isolated tornadoes are possible, particularly across northern portions of Florida - including the Panhandle - and southern Georgia.
After re-emerging over the Gulf of Mexico this evening, Frances is expected to intensify to a minimal hurricane. A second landfall is expected along the central Florida Panhandle early Monday afternoon. In fact, a hurricane warning is in effect along the panhandle from the mouth of the Suwannee River to Destin. Excessive rainfall will continue to accompany Frances northward into the panhandle and interior Southeast, especially Alabama and Georgia, over the next several days.-from Weather.com
From : John D.
Sent : Tuesday, September 7, 2004 12:53 PM
To : "John (John D.
Subject : Hurricane Frances News from the Downers
Thank you for all your prayers!
Frances turned out to be all bark (or howl) and no bite for us. Even though her winds blew pretty strongly for about 36 hours and we were confined to our home for the better part of four days, we only lost power for about 12 hours and saw just a few small branches and palm fronds lying around. There is no significant damage to PIONEERS either, which is wonderful. So we're feeling very fortunate.
Now hopefully Ivan will stay far, far away. Although we will be in Minnesota beginning Saturday, so we won't be around if if he does come to see us.
Please pray for a fruitful and restful time in Minnesota. We'll be doing partnership development, taking some vacation, attending a wedding and doing some mobilization stuff up in Duluth and in Minneapolis. The week after, Naomi returns to Orlando and I go on to Chicago for a week-long missions conference at Trinity International University.
Peace to you and your household today!
John & Naomi
Fort Myers, where the Minnesota Twins train for Spring Training and my Aunt Toni lives
"In the aftermath of the Tampa Bay Rays’ startling conquest of their first playoff berth, Vice President of Communications Rick Vaughn, sequestered in a corner office in the Rays’ press box, celebrated with his staff. Decompressing from the euphoria of the moment, Vaughn then scrolled through a multitude of congratulatory messages on his BlackBerry.
“You’ll like this one,” he said. “It says, ‘I just returned from Mass, and the Gospel message for today is “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first."’ That’s the best one I’ll get.”
Sharing the Victory Radio host Ron Brown talked to Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays just hours before they resume game 5 of the World Series in Philadelphia versus the Phillies. Listen Now!
Since their inception in 1998, the Rays (formerly the Devil Rays) have been the poster team for futility in Major League Baseball. Check out the evidence from the Rays’ first decade:
--They finished last in the formidable American League East in nine of 10 seasons (4th in 2004).
--They had never been more than four games over .500 in their history. (This year, the Rays finished 32 games over .500).
--They occupied first place in the AL East for a total of 18 days COMBINED in 10 years (This year, the Rays were atop the AL East for 109 days).
--Their greatest number of wins in one season was 70, and that was in 2004. (This year: 97.)
So, just how did this band of Mohawk-coiffed (a late-season, team-bonding rite) stallions script the 2008 version of “worst-to-first”?
The extreme makeover of Tampa Bay began on Oct. 6, 2005, when financial guru Stuart Sternberg assumed ownership of the beleaguered franchise. Sternberg immediately and boldly began to chart a new course for the Rays by corralling a pair of young, dynamic baseball wizards to oversee the daily operations of Rays’ baseball. He elevated Matt Silverman to president and hired Andrew Friedman as executive vice president of baseball operations. In addition, Sternberg lured long-time baseball mastermind Gerry Hunsicker from the Houston Astros to provide his youthful duo with veteran leadership.
The Rays infused their farm system with promising talent, which resulted from favorable draft picks, and the seedlings have now matured in 2008. Acrobatic defense, a replenished bullpen, clutch hitting and a kiddie-corps of promising starting pitchers propelled the Rays into the national limelight. Even the external image of the Rays changed this season with the re-christening of the shortened team name, its new team colors and new logo.
The ascension of the Rays came unexpectedly, although many pre-season prognosticators did forecast brighter days for the besieged organization. Just 19 games into the season, however, the Rays found themselves in their habitual cellar-dwelling position, three games below .500 at 8-11.
Hints of a revival sprouted at the end of April as the Rays reeled off six consecutive wins—series sweeps against Toronto and Boston—that vaulted them into a first-place tie in the AL East. Skeptics soon began to take notice of the Rays when they sustained their newly-found fortunes, and they gradually converted the doubting Thomases with more series sweeps over the highly-acclaimed Angels, Cubs, Marlins, and twice against the Red Sox.
The pinnacle of the Rays?’ astonishing season was reached Sept. 20 when they squashed the Minnesota Twins 7-2 to secure the team’s first playoff berth. A second celebration ensued just six days later in Detroit when the Rays guaranteed that, for the first time since 1997, the AL East championship banner would be raised in a ballpark other than Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park.
Bespectacled Manager Joe Maddon framed his outlook for 2008 back in spring training with this unusual equation: 9 = 8. Madden’s mantra was that nine players, giving maximum effort for nine innings, equals eight playoff teams. A herd of youthful, eager players provided the proof for Maddon’s theory and the AL East title.
Virtually every player on the Rays’ roster has worn the hero title at some point during the season, making the 2008 Rays the consummate team.
“It’s one of those things that many players—Hall of Fame players—will go their entire careers and never experience anything like this,” said 2007 Comeback Player of the Year Carlos Pena. “And so I treat this with respect; I really appreciate it. I’m really very thankful and grateful for it. And the greatest thing about it is the way we’ve done it. It’s been a team that has humbly done it. It’s almost like we’re here by the grace of God.”
Pena, who grew up in a Christian home in the Dominican Republic, surged in the second half of the season following a sub-par first-half, which was hampered by a stint on the disabled list due to a broken index finger. He is regarded as one of the Rays’ charismatic and veteran leaders, and an MVP candidate.
“Sometimes people might see me and say ‘This guy is happy! Why is he always happy?’” he said. “In reality, I could find a million things to be happy about. If you are observing life through the eyes of the majority of the people around you, then, yeah, you can find a bunch of things to complain about. But I have this idea of ‘staying within.’ Stay within—that’s something that’s big for me. My own world. MY world. In my world, only a few things exist: God, my family, and being grateful. And I try not to leave room for anything else.”
Pena is widely acclaimed for his work in the Tampa Bay community. On the day prior to the Rays’ playoff-clinching victory over the Twins, a young boy was involved in a serious accident, and he will likely never walk again. When Pena learned that he is the boy’s favorite baseball player, he went to the hospital to visit him, overwhelming the victim and his parents with his altruistic and genuine caring.
Another of the Rays’ faith-professing stars is Ben Zobrist. Being groomed to be the Rays’ utility man out of spring training, he fractured his left thumb and, instead, landed on the DL for the first month of the season. The hard-working son of a preacher relentlessly and aggressively rehabilitated, but bounced between Durham (the Rays’ AAA affiliate) and Tampa Bay four times before finding his niche with the Rays.
“Yeah, it’s been tough to a certain degree,” the affable Zobrist said of his yo-yo ride this year. “But I think if you realize you’re giving it your best shot, then it’s up to the Lord beyond that. If you’re giving everything you can on the field, working hard, and things may not be working out the way you want things to work out, then obviously God has another plan in mind.
“He doesn’t always want our success in whatever we do,” Zobrist continued. “It’s hard to accept that, but as long as you just take care of your business and make sure you’re doing everything you can possibly do, then at some point you just have to trust the Lord and believe that even in demotion you might be blessed.”
The most versatile of the Rays (he has started at five different positions this season), the 6’3”, 200-lb. Zobrist, who was active in his high school FCA Huddle, has added a new dimension to his resume: power.
In 280 Major League at-bats coming into this season, he slugged just three home runs. But in 198 at-bats this summer, Zobrist clubbed 12 dingers, including two grand slams, and four home runs in the season-ending series at Detroit.
“I’ve hit for a lot more power,” he said of his personal highlight to this banner season. “Seeing the ball come off my bat a few times, I didn’t know I had some of those swings in me. So that’s been kind of a light for me, and maybe I can do some of that a little bit more often. I mean, hitting a grand slam at Yankee Stadium is such a thrill! I’ve just been very blessed.”
Like Pena, Zobrist appreciates the camaraderie in the Rays’ clubhouse. “It’s been a blast,” he said. “To be in a clubhouse like this among so many young guys and guys who are sort of in the twilight of their careers—it’s a great mix. Everybody has a pretty good attitude about going out there every day and just having fun. It’s easy to forget how to have fun at this level, but guys are having fun playing together, encouraging each other, and pushing each other to do better. To be a part of that atmosphere at this point of the year is special to say the least.”
Burly outfielder Gabe Gross was peddled by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Rays in late April and was used primarily as a defensive replacement and spot-starter early on. However, his club-leading three walk-off hits, coupled with injuries to stalwarts Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford soon landed him in the starting lineup.
“My initial reaction was one of surprise and a little bit of sorrow,” Gross said of his trade to the Rays. “I had some really good friends in Milwaukee, and I was sad that I was going to be leaving that situation. But once I started learning a little bit about what this team was about, and I got down here and started meeting some of the guys, it became a blessing in a hurry.”
As is customary with many teams, Rays’ players select songs to be piped over the loudspeaker each time they come to bat. In Milwaukee (“I Can Only Imagine”) and now in Tampa Bay (“Blessed Be Your Name”), Gross has selected Christian music to pump him up.
“So many people come up to me or write me letters, and tell me how much they appreciate that song, how much it’s meant to them,” Gross said. “I think the reason I love that song so much—the reason for playing it—is because I think Christians get a bad rap sometimes when they say after a big win or something good happens, ‘I want to give praise to Jesus.’ People say they never hear that in the losers’ locker room; you never hear them give praise to Jesus. And the biggest thing about that song is that it’s speaking to us no matter what’s going on in our lives, good or bad. ‘You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say, blessed be Your name’ I want that to represent my life.”
While Zobrist and Gross dream of a ring on their finger at the conclusion of the 2008 playoffs, both are understandably even more enthralled about their imminent new roles as first-time fathers.
“It’s going to be fantastic! We (Ben and wife, Julianne) are so excited,” Zobrist said. “We’re going to have a boy. I’ve been thinking about how we’re going to raise him. We’ve been praying about that, along with my wife and the baby staying healthy. It’s been such a blessing already. We really can’t wait to experience it.”
Gross concurred. “Right now, it’s surreal to me. My wife (Kelly) and I have been trying for some time to have children, and it looks like this is going to work out. We’re still praying very hard for God’s protection over her and the child.
“I’ve heard from several different people, and just know from seeing it, that having children and being a father changes your life exponentially,” he continued. “There’s nothing more important to me in this life than Jesus Christ and family. I’m very close to my family—my mom and dad and brother—and to start the whole experience of having my own family is something I’m very much looking forward to.”
Pena, Zobrist and Gross are all active in the Rays’ Baseball Chapel program, which has been shepherded since 2005 by Gio Llerena, a former youth pastor.
“Many of the guys who attend chapel are active in their local church back home,” Gio said, “so, when they can’t attend church due to their work, Baseball Chapel sort of becomes church for them. Also, the fellowship, encouragement, and any help my wife (Suzy) and I can be to the guys and their families is important. Helping them stay focused in their walk with the Lord is what I strive for. It’s so easy to lose that focus in this game, and I try to help them balance that out with Bible study, text messages, etc.”
Gio often recruits members of his “flock” to share testimonies or words of encouragement to others, and they are more than happy to do so. After Zobrist was injured and put on the DL at the beginning of the season, he and Gio conducted Bible studies and shared fellowship with players in the Rays’ minor league camp, and Gio credits Zobrist with leading one young prospect to the Lord.
“One of the players was asking questions, and Ben made himself available to answer them and share Scripture with him,” he recapped. “Shortly after that, Ben received a phone call from this player to tell him he had accepted Christ as his Savior. Ben was at my house when he received the call. I know that the angels have a party when one comes to Christ, but we had one also!”
Added Zobrist: “Baseball Chapel to me has been a consistent source of Christian networking throughout my pro baseball career. I can always count on Baseball Chapel to have a brother-in-Christ already there to encourage me. Gio has been a fantastic example of what a Christian leader in the home and a Christian man ought to be. He has been there for me on so many occasions. His friendship is special to me personally as he has helped counsel me through some difficult times, and he has celebrated with us through blessed times. We have studied the Word together, ministered to others together and prayed together. He is a great source of accountability.”
Like most Rays’ fans who have suffered through a decade of folly at Tropicana Field, Gio has been riveted by the Rays’ about-face. And, while sports talk pundits scrutinize the reasons for the Rays’ success, Gio has a unique take on it. “They took the ‘Devil’ out of the name!”
Truly, the 2008 Rays have obviously taken the devil out of their game, too.
--For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.
Photos courtesy Tampa Bay Rays/Skip Milos.
Ben Zobrist Status: Active
* Born: 5/26/1981 in Eureka, IL
* Bats/Throws: S/R
* HT: 6'3''
* WT: 200
STV Interview with Ben Zobrist
"Sharing the Victory magazine interviews Tampa Bay Rays all-star Ben Zobrist" An Interview with Ben Zobrist, from challies.com "How did you come to know the Lord?
God brought me to Himself at about the age of 4. My parents were devout believers and my Dad was in Bible College at the time. I remember hearing the gospel in Sunday school and I talked to my Mom about it one night before bed. It was clear to me that I was a sinner and I was not going to heaven if I died without accepting Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for me. I was brought to Christ out of fear of going to hell. I didn’t want to go there after I died, and there was only one other choice in my mind as a 4 year old. I wanted to go to heaven. It was and is that simple.
How do you seek to bring glory to God through your career as a baseball player?
First of all, I try to be excellent at my job, because I know God wants me to give my best to be a walking witness and ambassador of the excellence of Jesus Christ. My teammates and coaches are watching to see if my relationship with Christ makes me any different on the ballfield, and I pray that God will be represented in my play as excellent. At the same time, I am seeking to be an active part of the body of Christ among ballplayers by using the spiritual gifts God has given me to encourage and build up my fellow teammates as well as the Baseball Chaplain that ministers to us on a weekly basis. We have weekly bible studies and Sunday morning chapel services. The nature of the game also gives me great opportunity to visit and share my faith in Christ on a regular basis with individuals, schools, and churches. So I try to use that platform to give glory to God as well....
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "..Personal life
Ben Zobrist lives in Tennessee with his wife, Christian singer Julianna Zobrist and their son, Zion Benjamin, who was born on February 1, 2009. Zobrist is a former counselor for Camp of Champions USA, a Christian summer day camp in central Illinois. He used Christian rap artist TobyMac's song "Ignition" as his entrance song during the 2008 and start of the 2009 season. He currently uses a song by his wife as his entrance music.
Zobrist often talks about his Christian faith, and how God helped him realize that he was supposed to play baseball. "I just felt like everything fell into place so much, that this is what I was supposed to do," Zobrist said, "This is what I was made to do." He often mentions during interviews how blessed he has been through his baseball career. He and Christian former teammate Gabe Gross have talked about how they organize Bible studies with their teammates. St. Pete Times writer Mark Topkin wrote how Zobrist does this with his teammates, saying Zobrist "doesn't judge or proselytize, refraining from forcing his beliefs on anyone, though willing to get involved if asked." Zobrist also chooses not to smoke, drink, or do drugs...
"APALACHICOLA, Florida - Tropical Storm Fay was downgraded to a tropical depression Saturday night, but cities along the Gulf Coast were still bracing for heavy rain.
As a tropical storm, Fay set a record with four landfalls in Florida and was blamed for at least 11 deaths there and another in Georgia, emergency officials said.
Though the storm weakened as it traveled inland Saturday, with maximum sustained winds of about 35 mph, cities from Pensacola to New Orleans were still preparing for possible flooding. Forecasters said areas from the Florida panhandle to eastern Louisiana could get 6 to 12 inches of rain before the storm was over. Isolated tornadoes were also possible. ..
Florida disaster status sought
Gov. Charlie Crist has asked the federal government to declare the worst-hit areas major disaster areas.
Fay had been an unusual storm since it was named Aug. 15. After hitting the Keys Monday, it crossed open water again before hitting a second time near Naples on the southwest coast. It limped across the state, popped back out into the Atlantic Ocean and struck again near Flagler Beach on the central eastern coast. It was the first storm in almost 50 years to make three landfalls in the state as a tropical storm. Its fourth landfall as such was the first in recorded history.
"This is unprecedented in terms of the slow nature of this storm, the large circulation and the fact that it's impacted probably about 90 percent of the state with heavy rains and severe weather," state meteorologist Ben Nelson said.