USA Today presented a story on the new career of former baseball great Darryl Strawberry, who has fully embraced his new calling in life: ministry. He and his wife Tracy have both been ordained as ministers and developed their own organization, Strawberry Ministries, involved in charitable programs for youth, autism, and addiction recovery.
Strawberry's terrific baseball career, including 335 home runs, four World Series rings and eight All-Star Game appearances, is of no current interest to him. In fact, if you enter his home, you'll see no baseball memorabilia. Strawberry says he got rid of it all. "I was never attached to none of that stuff. I don't want it. It's not part of my life anymore," he told USA Today. "I love the game, don't get me wrong, but I love the Bible more. I want to help people save their lives, and have the responsibility of leading people into following Christ. It's so hard to describe what that feels like, but I've never been happier in my life. It's so much fun being a pastor."
Strawberry, now 54, experienced high-profile substance abuse and addiction which included prison time and says his horrific life experiences allow him to reach troubled souls with the message of Christ. "I wish I could have been like a Gary Carter or Tim Tebow when I was playing," Strawberry says, "and have Christ in my life the way I do today. When Carter left here, he left here as a right man, a righteous man, who lived his life right. He loved his faith.
"I look at Tebow. He gets bashed because of his faith. Let 'em laugh. Let 'em talk. He's a greater man than anyone who might be greater than him as an athlete. He's a real man."
They opened The Darryl and Tracy Strawberry Christian Recovery Program in Longview, Texas, and hope to launch two others soon in Orlando and St. Louis.
"I'll always be grateful for baseball because it was a tremendous platform that God set up for me," Strawberry told USA Today. "That part of me will never go away. But I will never go back into that world, that lifestyle, the one that most athletes never conquer. You look at A-Rod (the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez), and he'll say, 'I want to do well.' What he's really saying is, 'I want people to like me, but they don't like me, because of the stigma attached to who I am.'
"I had all of those issues, too. It was just a different time. A different generation. Here I am, a baseball superstar, falling into the pits, having everybody write you off, and then having God say, 'I'm going to use your mess for a message.' How beautiful is that?"
The Lord is at work redeeming and sanctifying a people for Himself.