Exceeded Expectations – Pirates Faith Night
By: The Increase Baseball
July 26, 2016
Wednesday July 20th, after the Pittsburgh Pirates hosted the Milwaukee Brewers, 18,000 fans stuck around after extra innings for the event they’d been anticipating the whole night. The Pirates’ Faith Night began after 10:30pm; players, coaches, wives, and front-office staff came to share their testimonies on the field.
“It’s very impactful for the fans to hear the players share about their personal faith in Christ,” said Pirates’ Chaplain Brad Henderson. “Likewise, I think it provides a great growth opportunity for the players and coaches as well.”
Bench Coach Dave Jauss and his wife, Billie, have been with the Pirates for four seasons now, watching Faith Night expand each year.
“Four years ago, when Pittsburgh began having Faith Nights, we saw maybe 4,000 people stay after the game,” remembers Billie. “With about 18,000 people this year, the growth has been shocking.”
According to the Pirates’ ticket office, over 10,000 more tickets were sold for this game than any other mid-week game this season. The reason people came out was not only to see a great game, but also to witness their heroes on the field give glory to our Savior in Heaven.
“It was really powerful to see, because all who shared were in very different places in their walks of faith in Jesus Christ,” says Billie. “It’s inspiring because the audience can see that these players are real, they’re struggling, and they’re faithful. It’s powerful to witness them as they embrace God, acknowledging that He is in control.”
The evening included testimonies shared by individuals from both teams, Q&A sessions with the players, a Spanish video testimony (with live English translation) put together by the Pirates’ wives’ Bible study group, and prayer.
“Hearing the wives share this year was really special,” says Dave. “The players are used to getting up in front of thousands of people, but their wives are not. Many of them went way out of their comfort zone to do this but it was really powerful. It impacted both their husbands on the field and the rest of the people who attended that night.”
A unique interview session included a Q&A session where young kids from the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation (a Christian outreach ministry for intercity kids), asked questions of a number of the Pirates.
The questions ranged from, “What’s your favorite color?” to “Do you pray before you go on the field?” Josh Harrison, Jared Hughes, Matt Joyce, and other players responded.
Andrew McCutchen, Jared Hughes, and many other players from both teams shared their personal testimonies with the audience.
“Andrew really shared his heart with the crowd that night,” says Dave. “He shared about his struggles on the field this year and then talked about how his faith has allowed him to live his life for the Lord no matter what circumstances he’s faced.”
“His was a powerful testimony of faith in God and God’s faithfulness,” adds Billie. “I’m getting goosebumps even now as I think about it.”
Pirates’ third baseman David Freese spoke about his experience being baptized last year at a Christian conference after being encouraged to do so by his teammate.
“Hearing this man—who is young in his walk with the Lord—and others share the joy and fulfillment they find in life in Christ and the importance of baptism was amazing,” says Dave. “He spoke from the heart, telling everyone the impact that his teammates had on him to take that step of faith. Since then he’s jumped in with both feet in his walk of faith.”
The evening ended with Pirates’ manager, Clint Hurdle challenging men to be men of faith, standing up for their faith in Jesus Christ as the men on the field that night were. Following this call to action was a final prayer given by Dave Jauss.
“It is always impactful for me to hear these men share about their love for Jesus,” says Dave, “but when I see their testimonies impacting others—teammates, fans, 12-year-olds, and 80-year-olds—it’s really moving.
As they left the ballpark that night, Dave and Billie were stopped by numerous people thanking them for an outstanding and God-honoring night.
“When Dave and I were walking home, I was shocked at all the people who had stayed past midnight to experience Faith Night,” says Billie. “There were elderly people, children, and fans from all walks of life that were beaming from what they just witnessed. It just shows you how powerful the platform of baseball is that we’re able to profess faith in God in such a big way.
This year’s Faith Night blew everyone’s expectations out of the water, leaving many greatly anticipating next year’s event.
“The Lord was active again in Pittsburgh; His move included a baseball game but it wasn’t about a baseball game—or about the Pirates. It was about Jesus Christ.”
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” —2 Timothy 1:7-8
If you enjoyed this article, please share: