Have you ever heard of…

Have you ever heard of Brother Matthias of St. Mary’s?

How about this: have you ever heard of Babe Ruth? If you pictured a pear-shaped baseball player with a big upper body and disproportionately small ankles, then you know of baseball’s greatest, and most-famous, player. If you started thinking of a chocolaty candy bar, then you are thinking of the candy bar named after the pear-shaped baseball player with a big upper body and disproportionately…

New York's  Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth was a legend in baseball, was an icon of sports greatness and was a superstar known all over the world. He was the first mega-athlete in history. After baseball’s tumultuous early years that included rampant gambling, fighting on and off the field and a world series scandal that almost removed baseball as America’s pastime, baseball needed a hero. That hero’s name was George Herman Ruth — the Babe.

George’s early years, however, would be no reflection of his future baseball greatness. By the time he was five, he was already prone to drunkenness (yes, at age 5!) by stealing sips of whiskey from patrons in his daddy’s bar, and was a well known thief with local shop owners. His parents tried to beat him into obedience, but he was a big boy, and only grew larger and more mischievous in the years to come.

By the time he was seven, his parents were done trying to raise him, and they legally released him from their custody and handed him over to a well-known catholic school for boys, St. Mary’s Industrial School (for boys).

It was here that George met the one man who changed his life course. You see, the school George was dropped off at was an Industrial School for Boys — it prepared young boys to be productive in society by giving them trade skills that would allow them to work in the booming American industrial economy. By age 12, George was actually doing pretty well in school, and was on his way to working in some large-scale assembly line.

But while school was going relatively well for George, he was excelling in his favorite extra curricular activity — baseball. Brother Matthias had seen a potential in George Jr, a potential that no one else seemed to notice. He redirected the young man’s anger, his feelings of worthlessness and abandonment, into a place where that energy could be channeled for good. And what did he find? The world’s greatest baseball player.

After being drafted, a “babe” in baseball, he became the Great Bambino, the original Sultan of Swat — Babe Ruth. To this day, his 1918 pitching performance in the world series is still considered one of the greatest in baseball history, and his home run hitting prowess literally changed the face of America’s pastime. He hit home runs like no one had done before — like no one even thought possible! In fact, it is quite likely the great Yankee teams of the 20’s and early 30’s would be relatively unknown, if Brother Matthias hadn’t invested in George Herman Ruth, Jr.

What a difference one man made.

So often we cruise through life, taking care of the details of life, even being involved in important work (remember, Brother Matthias was working in an orphanage!) but miss opportunities to invest in people that are near us. It’s especially easy to pass those people that seem to require a little extra help. But how many ‘Babe Ruths’ are just waiting for one person to believe in them? One person to give them a chance? Just one person to smile, extend a hand of comfort and offer words of encouragement? Here at Lake Ann Camp we call those children, “opportunity campers” — not problem campers!

Jesus spent a lot of time investing in some people that we might think weren’t very worthy of having God’s Son invest in them. Remember the woman at well in John 4? She was a social outcast, had been divorced and remarried 5 times and was presently living with her boyfriend. Jesus overcame social and cultural barriers to engage this outcast and giver her new life. Not unlike how He connected with the lying and cheating tax collector (that became one of His 12 disciples!), a dying thief, a blind beggar and a crazy, demon-possessed, naked man running wild in a cemetery! Jesus took time for the unlovely, and lives were radically changed.

Is there a “Babe Ruth” in your life that might need just a little encouragement? Could you give a little investment that might pay out a massive return? As you go through life, even doing great work, don’t forget to ask God to show you whom He might want you to believe in, offering hope, love and encouragement. You never know, you might be giving the next Babe Ruth a chance.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

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