I was invited to a baseball game. Not just any baseball game but the World Series. Not just any World Series but what ended up being the best game seven in World Series history. One of those games I will never forget. We got a group of friends together and we decided, we’re doing this! Plane tickets weren’t cheap but there was nothing that was going to hold us back from the trip of a lifetime.
Luckily, one of my friends, Wendi, had a hook up on a place to stay right next to the stadium, so we did not have to pay for lodging. She explained that we would be staying at her friend’s house, and they will be taking care of us. We are all pretty excited and we decide to go a couple days early.
We boarded the plane and off we went. We had to take several flights to get to the final destination and after hours of flying we arrive at 2:30 am. I tell Wendi, “there is no way we are going to find a ride at 2:30 am, especially when it is a two-hour drive to the house.”
Wendi replies “don’t worry, they will be waiting for us.” Not only were they waiting for us but they insisted on loading our luggage as well. We were all pretty tired as we loaded up and head to the house. We didn’t talk a whole lot as it’s either really late at night or really early in the morning. I couldn’t as I’m not usually driving between 2:30 and 4:30 in the morning. We stumbled into the home from being up all night only to be greeted with the smells of an amazing meal.
At this point I’m pretty confused and wonder who would ever be up that early to greet us with fresh food? The hosts at the house proceed to show us the home, get our luggage situated for us, and finally sit us down at the table for a much-needed breakfast of champions, including freshly squeezed juice, as we had been flying all night and getting pretty hungry.
Later that day we woke up and heard the words “lunch is ready whenever you guys are.” This is music to my ears as I love food—especially home cooked meals. We all sat down in amazement and shared about how well or how badly we slept as we ate. One conversation led to the next as we wondered where the hosts were going to sleep for the next couple nights. We did not see any extra bedrooms. The next night we realized as one of us got up to get some water in the middle of the night and saw them laying on the hard tile floor in the living room. I guess they had given up their beds for us.
I couldn’t believe it; who does that? My wife and I have always welcomed guests into our home with open arms but with some boundaries. Don’t ever think I’m picking you up at the airport at 2:30 in the morning, especially if I have never met you and I have an awesome blow up bed in the kids’ playroom but you will not be sleeping in my bed while I’m on the hard floor. There must be something I’m missing here. Wendi assures me there is nothing I’m missing, and that these people just love to take care of guests.
For the next couple days leading up to game seven, the hosts drive us around town and show us what hard work and serving looks like. I caught them waking up before us, sometimes before 5 am, just to make sure they had cleaned up where they were sleeping on the floor in case we wanted to hang out in the living room. I watched as they did our dishes, sat on the floor of the kitchen peeling potatoes, made every meal from scratch, cleaned the corners of the rooms with a broom and wet towels to make sure it was spotless, and arrange our shoes in a nice straight line that we left by the front door.
I asked Wendi if they were going to go with us to the game but didn’t really get an answer and figured they didn’t have the money to get tickets to join us. At this point the game had been sold out for weeks and there wasn’t a chance to get more tickets even if we had the money. I guess we would see them after we got back to their place after the game.
It’s game time! We get to the game, which is right around the corner from where we are staying, and hear the sounds and see the sights that I’ve been picturing for weeks. I say to myself, and maybe even out loud “how lucky am I” as I had to pinch myself as we walked through the gates.
Right about then a man comes walking over to us and looks official and says you guys need to follow me. Again, I’m confused and thought maybe we had done something wrong the night before or he was going to tell us that we had fake tickets and escort us out of the park. Instead he says “I am with the team of people that have been serving you” as he walks us down the steps leading to home plate.
“Our seats are in the top level of the outfield” I explained, but he ignored me. Each row passed us as we walked down toward home plate and I thought how amazing it is going to be to get a chance to stand behind home plate and snap a couple pictures before the game. But that didn’t happen, instead the first row, the best seats in the house, were reserved for us! This can’t be happening and who are these people that we have been staying with.
The sounds, the people, the being right up front and seeing everything like you were on the field could not have been better. But it does! This is where the goose bumps, the hairs on the back of my neck, and the swelling of my eyes, as I hold back tears, starts to happen. As they start announcing the players to come on the field before the game starts I recognize three of the names. They come out and stand right in front of us. Believe it or not it is the hosts that have been serving us the last couple days. They were the actual players on the team. Now I am even more confused than I had been about everything else. Not only were they just part of the team, but they are announced as major players on the team! How is it that someone with so much significance decides to serve a group of random strangers? I am pretty sure at any point they could have called a servant to come serve them, make them their meals, and clean their floors. They definitely should not have been sleeping on the floor. And if that wasn’t enough, one of the hosts around inning seven decided to leave the game, afraid that we were getting hungry, and come serve us food!
Now, this didn’t really happen at game seven of the World Series, but could you imagine? This is how I felt about our first couple days arriving in Uganda with xHope and how the wonderful, amazing women of God treated us while we stayed at their guest house at Christ Sanctuary International: Patience, Angel, and Prudence to give each one a name.
These women served us like we were royalty, Kings and Queens coming to stay on official business matters. They were all the nicest people you would ever meet. I couldn’t help to think that this is their job and they must be hired to take care of the staff and guests at the church. They must be at the bottom of the staff trying to work their way up or maybe volunteers that go to the church that want to eventually start at the bottom. Boy, was I wrong.
Sunday morning, after being served by them for several days, we show up to church, and we were escorted to the front row with reserved seats. The praising, the people, the words that were spoken was like we had already arrived in Heaven. Then it was time for what they called celebration Sunday. Once a year they honor and give thanks to the pastors of the church. The ones at the top, changing lives, leading communities of people to Christ. They have them all come up and you guessed it; Patience, Angel, and Prudence were all standing right there—pastors to be celebrated by their people. We didn’t recognize them at first. They were all dressed up like it was a beauty pageant. They looked stunning as if the tables had turned and now they were Royalty.
Pastor Tucker, leading the celebration, introduces each one and talks about how these are the leaders of this ministry and how many people they had led to Christ. He invites the people in attendance to come up and thank them if they had had an impact on their lives. I want to say every person in the room went up, cried, laughed and shared stories on how these Pastors changed their lives. How they wouldn’t be where they are at without these humbled people.
In the Bible Jesus talks about how we need to be humble, love others, and serve others. This is, by far, the best example I have ever seen of people actually being obedient to that. It was a great example that we don’t need to be amazing speakers, great at singing worship, able to convince everyone around us how we know everything in the Bible to feel worthy of God. If you want to see the world full of life, joy, happiness and love maybe all you have to do is love the Lord and serve others.