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I’m Happy!

As I’ve described, my first few years as a professional athlete were filled with struggle. I wasn’t very happy. Now I’m so happy with my job! I’m happy because I do it with an attitude of loving my neighbor as myself. I get to play baseball with the understanding that I’m playing to serve God and my neighbor, and there is freedom in that.

After I first met Dave Batstone and joined up with the Not For Sale Campaign, we started brainstorming ideas to connect baseball and modern abolition.

Dave told me, “We want to start a Free2Play program. We can ask athletes to join us and become part of a variety of initiatives. They can participate by setting goals for themselves and then rewarding themselves by donating to the Free2Play program. We’ll use the money to build basketball courts for kids that we’ve rescued from slavery. We can do basketball courts in these villages in Thailand or Colombia, or we can build baseball fields or soccer fields, or whatever these kids want to do. Because when we rescue these kids, we just want them to be kids again. They’ve been put in adult situations for so long, at such young ages, that when we rescue them, we just want to let them play. Play will stir their minds to dream again.”

Affeldt-is-Free2Play

I heard that and I said, “I’m in!” The first guy I called was Matt Holliday, who’s a good friend of mine. He was with Oakland back then. I asked him to jump in, and he did. He joined the Free2Play program with me. For the first year or two, we were the only two Major League ballplayers involved. Then last year we were able to get 22 more. Twenty-two Major League Baseball players joined us!

When I went around the churches during spring training last year to recruit for the Free2Play program, I gave the players a simple message. I told them, “Look, you guys have been given the ability to dream. These kids have not. It wasn’t their call to be born into these situations. They didn’t raise their hands and volunteer for the poverty lifestyle. Just as it wasn’t my call to be born into a great family that allowed me to dream, and to become what I wanted to become.”

We forget that. As human beings sometimes, we forget. We might look at children in poverty and say, “Man! That stinks for them.” But that’s not what the Bible counsels. The Bible says there will always be the poor among us. We need to help out. We have more than enough. We have more than most human beings will ever have. And when you’ve been given much, much is expected. That is what our calling as a church means.

I started doing these things, and more, with Not For Sale. And I have been learning. I am witnessing so much joy. And I feel so good to know that we are taking these kids out of terrible situations. We are working to rescue men, women, and children from suffering and real despair. I feel so good about what I am doing that I have finally said, “This is what I’m called to be.” And I’m happy!  See you Monday.

10 thoughts on “I’m Happy!

  1. Beautiful. And what a grace you have been given, Jeremy. The grace of charity, especially during this Lenten season is truly a blessing! Pax Domini!

  2. Jeremy- I am impressed and inspired to join this movement as well. I am currently living in South Korea and would love to get involved in any ministries that are near by. Please let me know when and where I can be of service. kiralynelise@gmail.com Thank you so much and have fun in the WBC!

  3. Very blessed you are happy. I am sure you hear this a lot but I do love your blog. Keep allowing the Lord to guide you in your mission with all His love. You are not alone and I am always happy to see God’s children going out in faith and continue sharing the truth as this commandment is not just for you. If we have all trusted the Lord then we SHOULD all go out to the world. God is good! Sad I missed seeing you at spring training, I really wanted you to sign my Bible. Praying for you always.

  4. As much as I have been enjoying your story, and your faithfulness, I have to say I just can’t agree with you here (and that’s not to say I didn’t cry over this several times — my husband is my witness). Am I called to love my neighbor as myself? Absolutely! But does it make me happy? Gosh no.

    Didn’t we just read Luke 4:16-30? If you go to God’s people, His faithful, and challenge them to go and serve the foreign widow or give of their own resources to assuage a foreign famine, and you’re not a celebrity athlete, they might reject you. They might chase you out of God’s house of worship. They might even chase you out of town. Some may try to kill you!

    I believe that we love our neighbors as ourselves because love expresses itself. Love is God’s, not ours. If we truly love God, then we’ll find ourselves involved in hunger initiatives or abolition projects at home or abroad. We’ll do it because God will love through us. God’s love is a living energy. It communicates. It reproduces. That’s why we serve, not because of the rewards it brings. We may never see rewards. In fact, we may lose ground in man’s world. God often does. Can we be happy with that? Maybe! I wouldn’t say that I think of a happy man when I think of Dr. King, but Gandhi always seemed smile out at the world. I’d say happiness is possible, but not inevitable.

    Isn’t it more likely that you are successful, happy, and loving your job because you’re good at it? Isn’t it *most* likely that the hungry and those who are rescued from enslavement receive hope and healing from your loving service because of other gifts you possess, such as a genuinely kind heart, or your ability to focus and work hard and handle adversity without faltering? You’ve given us an account of incredible strength as you persisted through years of struggle and injury and failure. I know I’d like a dose of your wisdom, focus and resilience. And personally, I’d choose those over happiness any day, because God’s love will pour through me and into the world whether I’m happy or not!

    • Thanks for all your comments. They are good and worth reading. Some people seemed shocked about my original attitude toward S.F. My final feeling I think is the most important. It was a lack of awareness that caused my initial feeling. Best response is “he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I’m Not perfect nor would I ever claim to be. To comment on Beth’s statement on happiness: I guess it’s more of a joy that I feel to be where God wants me and I feel His pleasure when I am doing my best to love as He loves me.

      • Jeremy, to feel His pleasure while you are doing your best to love as He loves you — that’s something I can work with! Thank you for the clarification. Bless you!

      • Beautiful blog! I disagree with Beth for I believe that helping your fellow man is the true key to happiness-when I read your thoughts I felt your happiness was real and contagious.
        We are in charge of our happiness, after all, and personally I am happiest when I am accomplishing something that helps others. You are doing something you feel good about and that is a high that is like no other!
        From the very beginning I have been telling you that you should be happy with the fact that you have a captive audience due to your profession and you use that to spread God’s word and share your faith with others. You are finally removing the guilt of having much while others have little and realize that you deserve your blessings and that you can share them with those in need.
        You have my admiration and respect on and off the field.
        Warm regards to you and your family.

  5. Beth, your heart shows in your post and this is always a great sign the spirit dwells. I wanted to post a reminder of a serving heart. Yes, I do agree it is not of our works that gets us to heaven, but with that said what is wrong with being happy in what one does for the Lord? God wants us to enjoy what he provides. There is no one thing that is better from you or I in this matter of serving for Him, even if one is a professional athlete. When God calls any one for a specific job all that needs to happen is to go. There should be happiness in what we do. A Christian should not walk around with an attitude that “well, God says this is how and what I should do, then I guess I should do it.” This is not the Lords way. This is:
    “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
    Colossians 3:15–17
    Hymns of praise…our happiness should be shown. Our faithful Christian walk needs to indicate the victory from the word of our testimony. All that matters in the end is where one goes…do we want souls to go to hell, or do we work hard as a servant of Christ to show all that God has a home regardless of what they have done. Souls are being reached, the seeds are being planted and we should all be happy in that. Our work is not done. Reality is sad, but despite the world we should be happy in what we do for him. Love you both, keep serving Beth and Affeldt!

    • Dear Olgananny, thank you so much! To be heard and to be loved! What else do I need to get through the day? :-)

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being happy. I just wanted to be sure Jeremy wasn’t offering us a version of magical thinking — do this and you’ll be happy, or do this and you’ll be successful. Life really doesn’t work that way, and we shouldn’t stop serving the poor if we find we are not happy or are not successful. At least, I don’t think we should. That’s why I said I would prefer Jeremy’s resilience to his happiness. I find I can’t be happy all the time. I don’t want to give up on God’s call to me because of that.

      Obviously Jeremy is very, very smart, and I didn’t think he was into magical thinking, but I wanted to be sure! :-)

      I love you too!
      Beth

    • I hope you didn’t think I shed tears over this post because I was sad! That wasn’t it at all. I was just so moved. I read it aloud to my husband and got so choked up over the “We forget that” paragraph that I sounded like Lauren Bacall! :-)

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