God gives His followers a calling and purpose on their hearts. Sometimes that call is to serve at the local church or volunteer at a food pantry. For others, like Miguel Terrero, God calls them to serve in unexpected ways.
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Terrero dreamt of becoming a professional baseball player in the United States. When he was 16, Terrero had given his life to Christ. Even though he loved the Lord, he added some parameters around this new “partnership”.
“I treated God more like a genie in a bottle, like, ‘If you help me with baseball, I’ll go to church,’” admitted Terrero. “I never shared my faith with my teammates or coaches. Baseball was my god at that point.”
At the age of 19, Terrero was offered a contract to play in the academies for a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Unfortunately, his contract meant using a different last name and using a false birthdate so that he could appear to be better for his age. Although false papers are not uncommon in the Dominican Republic, the dishonesty did not sit right with Terrero. He chose to continue tryouts with other teams under his legal name and birthdate.
When he was 20, Terrero tried out for a contract as a pitcher with MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. His tryout began flawless in the bullpen, but then when the call came to take the mound, an old injury began to haunt him. He threw nothing but balls. And, being that he kept his legal birthdate, he was nearly aged-out as a prospect. His “old” age combined with that performance meant Terrero had experienced his last tryout.
“I went home that day extremely disappointed, knowing my aspirations to become a major league player had come to an end,” he said.
That night he spent some time with God trying to make sense of what just happened. He spoke to God in a way that he never encountered before and fully surrendered his life to Christ.
“I told Him that from now on, He can have all of my life, even if I never play baseball again,” Terrero decided. “Whatever He wanted me to do, I would do it.”
A few weeks later, Terrero received a call from an American coach who used to bring U.S. athletes to play ball in the Dominican, leading to an introduction to FCA.
The coach asked him to join a Bible study with other athletes and coaches that was led by then-Dominican Republic FCA Director Mike Shaheen.
“I figured, 'Sure, I’m a Christian; Christians join Bible studies,'” said Terrero.
Watching the way Terrero interacted with the others, Shaheen invited him to train as a volunteer with FCA. Oddly enough, this new beginning brought Terrero back to familiar grounds.
“The first field I shared the Gospel at ended up being the very same field I used to practice on,” Terrero marveled. “I was sharing with my former teammates and coaches who I had never shared the Gospel with before. They were some of the first to hear my testimony.”
Like Terrero, for many of the youth in the Dominican Republic, the sport of baseball is a way to escape the life of poverty and brokenness at home. The extreme focus and dedication needed to “make it big” often requires the boys to drop out of school to focus solely on baseball.
“The statistics show that people are poor, families are broken, and many ball players’ identities are in sports” shared Terrero, who has been on staff with FCA since 2015 and is currently the country’s director. “They’d rather spend more time with coaches than at home because their home life isn’t great.”
Terrero and his wife Rosy hope to combat that darkness by modeling God’s love with an open-door policy at their home for anyone who needs a safe place to talk or sleep. It also allows them an opportunity to show others what a God-led marriage and family looks like.
“We have porch chairs outside our home and always have a bed available,” shared Rosy. “Our ministry model is based on relationships. We’re here for people and to share Jesus, and strategize to and through the coach. Coaches have the capacity and potential to impact a generation.”
Terrero and his team work with just over 3,500 athletes and coaches who learn about Jesus on a regular basis. With a focus on 3Dimensional Coaching™, he is hopeful that coaches and their players will develop a sense of identity rooted outside of baseball.
“My goal has always been to train the coaches to disciple their own players,” explained Terrero. “We want coaches to encourage players to finish their education, train for other jobs and attend FCA Huddles along with being a part of their local church. Most importantly, we want coaches to help their players find their identity in Christ, not in baseball.”
Looking back, it would be only natural for Terrero to wonder how life would be different if his performance that day would have resulted in a contract with MLB, but he doesn’t. He looks at the life around him now and is satisfied.
“I have found more purpose in who I am and what I do now than I ever did in baseball.”
To help reach more young athletes in the Dominican Republic, Miguel and Rosy ask for prayers that their team can find an administrative assistant. If you or someone you know is willing to relocate to the Dominican Republic as a full-time missionary since the job requires English as a primary language, please email email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit fcadr.org to learn more about how to get involved with sports ministry in the DR and support Miguel and Rosy and their team.
Photos courtesy of Miguel Terrero and LH Photography