Monday, December 18, 2006
They say there are two sides to every story and that’s usually true. There are also two (2) sides to this insert. Side #1 deals with something I enjoy talking & writing about…YOU…the “team” of prayer partners and donors that God has so graciously assembled. I know that it’s the Lord’s doing because of the diversity of people that have become involved in supporting this ministry in one way or another. As I filled out today’s bank deposit I was made aware of this again. Gifts from a Toronto Blue Jays security man, a lady I met back in the 70’s in my Christian bookstore, a couple I met years later when speaking at a church in another city, a baseball executive and a judge. They have all become a part of the EPISTLE team and we’re so grateful for your manyprayers and for your generous stewardship. When I scan our mailing list I see names of ballplayers I met back in the late 70’s when the Toronto Blue Jays were just getting started. There’s quite a diverse collection of names and addresses and each one has contributed to the ongoing success of EPISTLE SPORTS MINISTRIES. Names of several former Peterborough Petes are included. As we approach the end of another year we have so much to be grateful for. God has given us such an incredible team of friends and partners! THANK YOU is all I can say to each one of you who has stood with us and helped us make a difference in the lives of athletes. May the Lord bless you and make His presence known to you this Christmas season. He is worthy of our praise and adoration! Please read Side #2 for the “rest of the story”. Thanks for being on the “team”!
Side #2 – THE REST OF THE STORY!
2006 has been such an incredible year in many ways. We have been sustained by the Lord Himself in the midst of many trials and frustrating circumstances. Health concerns, situations with our two special needs sons, several difficult transitions and the ever-present issue of financial support have been on our hearts throughout the year. God has proven time and time again that He is faithful. “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” (Psalm 138:8) For over thirty (30) years the Lord has provided for EPISTLE SPORTS MINISTRIES in miraculous ways. My concern is that our regular, monthly donor list is so small that our faith is stretched each month as we trust God to provide ‘’the difference” in His own wonderful way. Perhaps this is faith-building but it’s also very stress-producing as well. For all these years I have maintained that “God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.” In times past we would be forced to build up credit card debt and then pay it off as the donations came in. As we approach the end of another fiscal year, we need an additional $35,000.00 to balance our books and cover our deficit. This can seem insurmountable but in the past God has met our needs in ways that we don’t expect or even understand. We have received individual gifts in the past that would wipe out this amount. Please join us in praying that this need would be met by the end of the year and that we would be able to launch into a new season of ministry in a strong, financial position. Thank you so much for hearing me out as I’ve related “the rest of the story”. We are trusting God for a miracle and we know that “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” – Eph. 3:20 - David
Can you believe it? We’re in the middle of the Christmas season and in a few days we’ll be into another new year…2007. It seems like just yesterday that we were lamenting the return of the kids to school in September and almost four months have passed since then.
It’s been a hectic time for the Fisher family. Our sons Matthew (11) and Nathan (10) started at a new school, Rhema Christian School, and our granddaughter Victoria (14) is in her first year of High School. It’s been quite a transition for all of us.
During the fall I had another bout with cellulitis in my face which put me on the shelf for a week. Several weeks later it appeared like the cellululitis had returned. Another week-long dose of antibiotics was prescribed as a preventative measure and we were grateful to learn that the condition hadn’t returned.
I spent a couple of nights in the Sleep Clinic at our local hospital and discovered that I do, in fact, have sleep apnea. For the last three weeks I’ve been using a CPAP machine each night. It’s still too early to see if I’m benefiting from “being plugged in” every night.
Our work with the Peterborough Petes continues to be very encouraging. After our trip to the Memorial Cup last May, we are in a rebuilding mode this season with a lot of rookies on the team. Building relationships with these young men has been so rewarding! They are so attentive and anxious to learn about the Christian life.
Transitioning away from our Baseball Chapel responsibilities with the Toronto Blue Jays was difficult but our relationship with the General Manager, J.P Ricciardi, and the Manager, John Gibbons, grew even stronger. Friendships with some Blue Jay players and visiting players were maintained and new friendships were formed as well during my mid-week visits to the ballpark. I sure missed those Sunday chapel services though! The preparation and presentation of messages was such a blessing!
The Lord continues to give us strength as we face the daily challenges of raising two adopted boys with special needs. Sometimes we’re ready to pull our hair out but we continue to see progress as these guys get older. We often say that bringing up these wonderful boys will either “keep us young or kill us”…one of the other. We love these guys dearly and Carol advocates for them in ways that continue to amaze me.
Thanks for your ongoing interest in the Epistle ministry. Your love, interest, prayers and financial support have been appreciated so very much! Thanks for being part of the “team”! Without you we couldn’t continue! We know that!
We pray that you will be able to celebrate Christ’s incarnation and lowly birth in a meaningful way with family and friends. “O come let us adore Him…Christ, the Lord!”
Lots of love, David, Carol & family
P.S. Not your typical feel-good, everything’s rosy, kind of Christmas letter, eh! GOD IS GOOD THOUGH AND WE HAVE MUCH TO THANK HIM FOR!
THERE WAS NO SONG…
The following song/poem was birthed in my spirit two Christmases ago as I thought of the "songs in the night" that the Lord so graciously gives me. That night, when I awoke, there was no song, and that prompted my subsequent reflections. I'm so grateful for the words of the blind hymnwriter of a bygone day, Fanny Crosby, who penned these marvelous words: "I know I shall see in His beauty, The King in whose law in delight. Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps, and giveth me songs in the night."
There was no song In David’s town that evening; Where God incarnate Graced a rustic stall. Tired and taxed they came For Caesar’s census; So unaware that roy’lty Would call.
Then angels told The shepherds of His coming; They came to see Emmanuel, God’s Son. That dark, cold night Welcomed Christ the Savior; And glory reigned Before the night was done.
He came to bring Salvation and forgiveness; For which the world Had waited for so long. The Christ of God The hope of all the ages; Brought peace on earth And birthed a brand new song.
And now by faith In Christ the King of Glory; We are assured one day In heav’n a place. ‘Til then we’ll journey On our way rejoicing; And some day soon We’ll see Him face to face.
The trials endured As pilgrims heading homeward; Are temporary And will not last too long. So hand in hand We’ll cross the final valley; Eyes fixed on “home” We sing redemption’s song.
David W. Fisher – Dec. 2004
MINISTRY HIGHLIGHTS…2006 (in no particular order)
- Working with the Peterborough Petes during their OHL Championship season and going to the Memorial Cup with them in Moncton, NB
- Being presented with the Petes’ OHL Championship ring by their General Manager, Jeff Twohey
- The relationships with J.P. Ricciardi and John Gibbons of the Toronto Blue Jays
- My ongoing relationship with Gabe & Kelly Gross who were traded to the Milwaukee Brewers last year
- Becoming good friends with my BASEBALL CHAPEL successor, Nigel Wheeler
- The mentoring/encouraging friendship that David Shantz, the Peterborough Petes goaltender and I enjoyed last season
- Watching both Mike and Bud Fisher excel in their game…hockey…Mike with the Ottawa Senators and Bud with the Quinnipiac University Bobcats
- Moving into our new office in Peterborough and working closing with my two friends/colleagues who share office space in the same building, Mark Hines & David Kennedy
- Enjoying and strengthening my friendship with former Peterborough Pete, Steve Montador
- Being encouraged often during the season by Mike Sweeney of the Kansas City Royals
- Conducting a chapel service for the Otttawa Senators and building on my friendship with the Senators’ President, Roy Mlakar
- Being encouraged by the work of fellow Hockey Ministries International colleague Jamie Ramer as he, with the Lord’s enabling, was successful in seeing a number of new chapel programs started in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
- The encouragement received from the Commissioner of the OHL, David Branch who has become a good friend
- The ongoing friendships with BASEBALL CHAPEL leaders in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system
- Speaking at the Chaplains’ Roundtable in Lansing, MI again this year
- Spending a day with John & Kelly Olerud and their son Garrett when they were in Toronto earlier this season
It has been a rewarding year as we continue to develop our internet presence through our two (2) blogs, PILGRIM SCRIBBLINGS and the Barnabas Blog. The response from our readers has been very encouraging! Check out our sites at:
"...that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." - Romans 15:4b (ESV)
EPISTLE SPORTS MINISTRIES
294 Rink Street – Suite 101
Peterborough, ON K9J 2K2
Phone (705) 743-7650 ext. 2
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
Long-time friend Woody Williams signed a two-year contract today with his home town Houston Astros. Woody spent this past season in San Diego, his second stint there with the Padres.
We got to know Woody and Kim when he played for the Toronto Blue Jays at the start of his long career. What a great couple! A wonderful family!
CONGRATULATIONS, Woody! We wish you all the best now that you've come home to the Astros!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
WE’RE IN THE OVERLAP… It’s that time of year when the baseball and hockey seasons overlap. The same thing happens each year during Spring Training. The Blue Jays are into the final month and the Peterborough Petes have started their training camp with Opening Night coming on September 21st. It seems like yesterday that I was in Moncton, NB with the Petes as they contended for the Memorial Cup, symbolic of Major Junior A supremacy in North America. Even though I resigned from the BASEBALL CHAPEL ministry on February 1st, I maintained contact with the team and tried to visit the ballpark about every 2 weeks. My successor, Nigel Wheeler did a great job as Chapel Leader. The players enjoyed him and he seemed to be well accepted. J. P. Ricciardi (the G.M.) and John Gibbons (the manager…pictured) continued to be very supportive of me and the Epistle ministry and I’ve tried to be “in their corner” throughout the season through notes of encouragement (epistles) & personal visits.
MILWAUKEE TRIP… In August I flew to Milwaukee to see Gabe & Kelly Gross (pictured) former Blue Jays. I had hoped to see Corey Koskie as well but he is still recovering from a concussion and we weren’t able to connect. Please keep Corey in your prayers. The Brewers recently put Corey on the 60 day disabled list. While in Milwaukee I had breakfast with Wayne Beilgard, the Brewers’ Chapel Leader. In addition to his ministry with the team, Wayne is responsible for overseeing the other 29 major league chapel reps. He does a great job encouraging them!
BIG CHANGES… With many of last year’s team graduating, there will be a lot of changes in the line-up when the Peterborough Petes open their season. Dick Todd, the veteran coach who led the team to the OHL Championship and the Memorial Cup Tournament, retired and Vince Malette, the assistant coach of the Ottawa 67’s for the past nine (9) seasons, has taken over. It always takes me a week or two to get all the new players straight as far as their names and identity are concerned. This year will be especially challenging. We hope to have our first MONDAY WE HAVE FISH chapel/meal soon and we’ll get together every 2nd Monday throughout the season. We thank God for the positive feedback we get from the entire Petes organization. Players like Steve Downie (Flyers) and Jordan Staal (Penguins) are away at NHL training camps but should be back for the season opener. Thanks for your prayers as we begin our 11th season of ministry to this hockey team.
LORD STANLEY COMES TO PETERBOROUGH… The Peterborough Memorial Centre was jammed with fans when homeboy Cory Stillman of the Carolina Hurricanes brought the Stanley Cup home for the weekend. Hundreds of people stood in line waiting to get autographs and a photo with the local hero. Many Peterborough fans were cheering for the ‘Canes because of Stillman and Eric Staal (Jordan’s older brother). Of course I was pulling for my nephew Mike Fisher and the Ottawa Senators but…well, let’s wait for next year.
COMMUNITY CHAPEL SERVICE IN AUBURN, NY… The town of Auburn, New York where one of the Toronto Blue Jays’ rookie league teams is based held their annual Community BASEBALL CHAPEL service at the ballpark in July. This was the 11th year that this outreach has taken place. I had attended the service several times in the past as the Blue Jays’ chapel leader but this year I was asked to be the guest speaker. Players from both team were in attendance and people from the community were admitted to the chapel and game FREE. A stage was set up near home plate and I spoke from the lectern there. A singing group from Freedom Village provided music and testimonies. What an opportunity to share the gospel with baseball fans. Art and Marion Fritz have been serving with Baseball Chapel in Auburn for many years and their son Adam is also getting involved. Thanks to the Fritz family for their efforts over the years. They are special people!
OHL & OHA CHAPEL LEADERS GET TOGETHER… Several chapel leaders (chaplains) met at the home of John and Alice Farnworth, just north of Guelph, recently for mutual encouragement and to get geared up for the upcoming hockey season. The HOCKEY MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL (HMI) chapel program is “taking off” in these junior leagues. Jamie Ramie is doing an excellent job as chapel co-ordinator while Mark Osborne, Paul Allen, Laurie Boschman and I work alongside him. This season chapels will be held in Barrie, Saginaw, Mississauga, Guelph, Ottawa, Belleville, Kingston and Peterborough will other OHL centres still working on getting things up and running. One of the OHA teams, the Elmira Sugar Kings, was represented at our gathering and they will have chapels again this season. Our host, John Farnworth, is the chapel leader for the Guelph Storm.
PILGRIM SCRIBBLINGS… Response to our Pilgrim Scribblings blog (short for web log) continues to grow and I enjoy encouraging the Body of Christ through this medium. It’s amazing how many Christian bloggers are making a godly impact in cyberspace through their web sites. In addition to the Pilgrim Scribblings site, I have a George Muller site that I’m building up. This is all part of the EPISTLE SPORTS MINISTRIES mandate to offer encouragement and support to athletes and everyone else we come in contact with. Check out our web site addresses at the bottom of this page. Here’s an excerpt, THE GREAT UNKNOWN, from a recent Pilgrim Scribblings “post”:
“This sometimes frightening experience we call daily living can, at the same time, be exciting and downright scary. Venturing into “the great unknown" can be debilitating. Our existence is often strewn with unknowns, those chapters in the book of life that add suspense and drama to the finished product. I've never known the terror of living without a Guide to walk me through those dark nights, those paths littered with the debri of broken promises and shattered dreams. With Christ in my life since I was a six-year-old boy, I've, to some degree, been able to place my hand in His nailed-scarred hands and let Him lead into those dark, shadowy places. That's not to say I've never been scared. I'm at a cross-roads in life as I pen these words. What lies ahead is unknown but, as William Carey once said, "The future is as bright as the promises of God." I'm amazed that people in this day and age continue to walk independently, stating that they don't need anything to do with God in their lives. How can they have any measure of peace?”
MY PRAYER: "Father, teach those of us who have personally met You, through Your Son Jesus, to be brave and be strong, knowing that the Lord our God is with us. May the realities that accompanied our salvation when we first believed be realized and entered in to as we walk this pilgrim pathway. As we enter unknown, virgin territory today, tomorrow or next week, remind us that we never walk alone. Guide us O Thou Great Jehovah, pilgrims in this barren land. Father, make us instruments of Your peace, agents of redemption and reconciliation, lighthouses in our neighborhoods, shining lights who radiate Your love. May those who have never met You see Christ in us. Use us in spite of our brokenness and imperfections. Take us to our desired haven at Your right hand, but until then, may we sense Your abiding presence in the midst of the storm. Thank You for leading us "home" through Jesus Christ our Lord and Master! AMEN!"
AND FINALLY… As you know, Epistle Sports Ministries operates strictly by faith and we trust God to provide through His people. This has been a very difficult year for us financially as we have transitioned away from the Baseball Chapel ministry. Thanks for your prayerful interest and support. All gifts of $10.00 and more are tax-deductible and receipts are issued at year-end. Enough said!
EPISTLE SPORTS MINISTRIES – http://www.epistlesports.blogspot.com/
PILGRIM SCRIBBLINGS – http://www.pilgrimscribblings.blogspot.com/
GEORGE MULLER – http://www.georgemuller.blogspot.com/
THE BARNABAS BLOG - http://acts436.blogspot.com
“Encouraging athletes one letter at a time since 1975”