‘Twas the Day Before Cuba

Hello all!

The time has finally arrived- we’re heading off to Cuba! The whole team is excited to be taking part in this incredible opportunity to minister to the Cuban people. We will do our best to update the blog daily while we are down there. However, the internet in Cuba is not known for its stability or speed. Therefore, we might miss a day or two of updates due to technical difficulties. The team is anticipating this trip to be safe, enlightening, and life-changing. Please pray for safe travel, easy progress through customs, and overall success of the trip. Pray that the hearts of the Cuban people be open to our ministry and that the Cornerstone baseball program can make a positive impact in the country. Thank you for all of your support through the past few months, and we are looking forward to an incredible experience down in Cuba! Until next time, God bless.

Lessons Learned from the Global Leadership Summit 2013- Coach Chuck on Leadership

Nothing has challenged my thinking and prompted growth in my life more than the Global Leadership Summit.  I have been blessed to attend the Summit at Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois each of the last five summers and learn from some of the greatest leadership minds on the planet.

In my Summit experiences I have been able to glean from people like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair, Jimmy Carter and Jack Welch. Even in preparing to write this blog post, I am humbled at the learning opportunities I have been provided over the last five years.

Maybe more amazing than the faculty on hand each year is the gathering of 10,000 leaders who are all in attendance to learn. These leaders include CEOs, pastors, non-profit presidents, financial gurus, and even small-college baseball coaches. Bill Hybels, the founding and senior pastor at Willow Creek, kicks off the Summit each year with an outstanding sermon/lesson. One of Hybels’ favorite sentences to utter at the there is, “Everybody wins when a leader gets better.” Surrounded by leaders from around the world who are yearning to get better is quite an amazing experience.

This year’s Summit began with Bill Hybels preaching about courageous leadership from the book of Joshua. Hybels built a foundation for the remainder of the event by speaking about the importance of having the courage to be vulnerable. Everyone on your team or organization knows exactly what the state of your organization or team is. Without the courage to “dig deeper,” a leader will be the last person to know the culture and what is really going on.

In our current culture, Hybels stated that people are joining organizations but leaving managers. Employees or team members “buy-in” to a vision but become disenfranchised with poor managers and leaders. When leaders fail to understand the culture of their respective organizations or manage their respective teams poorly, some of the best and brightest will seek a new culture elsewhere.

Hybels spoke of identifying which team members are “culture builders” and do whatever it takes to keep them.  “Culture builders” are those that buy-in to the mission and encourage others. Identify your “culture busters” and attempt to get them to change. “Culture busters” are negative, inattentive, and controlling.  If they can’t or won’t change, then you must get rid of them. The overall message was to be proactive in discovering what is going on in every part of your organization and what the team members think of the culture. Have the courage to be vulnerable and survey your team in order to find out what they think of the organization and how it is being run. Don’t be the last to know what is going on in your organization.

This year’s Global Leadership Summit has encouraged me to courageously live outside of my comfort zone and seek input from others in order to understand the areas I need growth. I have been asking a lot more questions surrounding culture and attitude than I did previously. I have also spent time evaluating myself and am striving to manage my time better in regards to our mission and values. Finally, I am more cognizant of my influence, both positively and negatively, on the culture of our team and university and more careful in how I utilize it.

-Coach Chuck

Global Baseball in Cuba

Hey all! Our head JV coach Pete Millar has some more information about Global Baseball, the organization that is aiding us in our trip to Cuba!

Global Baseball has been involved with MIssions projects in Cuba since 2001, partnering with a network of House Churches in and around the Havana area. In Cuba, baseball is known as “the King.” It is the desire of Global Baseball to use “the King” of baseball to build relationships and bring The King of Kings to the people.

Global has been actively involved in planting churches and the training of church leaders providing humanitarian aid and building bridges through the game of baseball. In 2001, the House church network consisted of a group of 4 houses. Now, twelve years later, the network is up to 74 homes with plans in place to double that number within the next few years.

Currently, Global Baseball takes 3-4 mission trips a year into the country. Trips will vary based on the make-up of a team, but “typical” missions projects will include home visitations (a great opportunity in an event-centered Latin American country, and an excellent way to build cross-cultural relationships), light construction projects, training of pastors and lay ministers, baseball games and clinics, and other simply unstructured relationship building time.

In December, the Cornerstone baseball team will be the largest team that has ever gone to Cuba in the twelve year history of Global Baseball in the country. We have 7-9 games scheduled at Guanabacoa Stadium in Eastern Havana against a collection of Cuban players, baseball clinics with youth players, as well as an opportunity to go to central Havana and pray for the city. It is our desire that this project will be a springboard for the participants in these main areas. We hope to spurn an interest in cross-cultural missions as a full-time vocation, a part-time participant, or a sender.

In the future, Global Baseball wishes to continue the partnership with the incredible and very loving people of Cuba and the House churches. It is our prayer to continue to train and disciple a new generation of Christian leaders in Cuba. We hope to continue investing and showing love to the Cuban people.

(Pete Millar is the head JV baseball coach at Cornerstone University and the National Director at Global Baseball. If you have any questions about Global Baseball, its mission, or how to get involved, feel free send him an email- peter.globalbasebal@gmail.com)

Prayer Requests

While the Cornerstone Baseball program is going strong, we could always use some prayer as we continue on into the future. Please consider praying for some of these specific requests:

The Cuba trip- pray that we can meet our fundraising goals, for safe travel, the mission, our players’ and coaches’ health, and for a successful trip

The coaching staff- pray for wisdom, and that they continue to lead the program effectively and in a manner that glorifies the Lord

The players- pray for the players as they work to balance baseball, school, and social lives. We also have a few players battling injuries. Please pray for their speedy recoveries.

Our recruiting efforts- pray that we can find the right players for our program

The future of the baseball program- pray that the program will continue to grow and be a positive influence wherever we go

Cornerstone University- pray for the faculty and staff as they work  to carry out the mission of the university.

Thank you for your continued support, and for your interest.

Junior Golden Eagles Team

This fall, Cornerstone Baseball created and sponsored a high school fall ball team with the help of the Foglia Foundation in Illinois. One of our own players, Cullen Montgomery, took on the duty of head coach. He along with other Cornerstone players have done a great job leading the team. The goal of this partnership is not only to spread Cornerstone’s message, but to build into the young mens’ lives. This year, we took on a group of young men from Union High School, an urban school here in Grand Rapids. They practiced and played here at DeWitt Field. The team played a total of six games. While they lost five of the six games, the young men enjoyed themselves and made significant improvements in their game. This partnership also gave Cullen some valuable coaching experience. This is something he hopes to pursue once his playing days are over. Cullen feels “called to the profession and believes that it can be used as a platform for ministry opportunities.” We are hoping to develop more opportunities such as this with the addition of one or two summer teams as we continue to grow the influence of the Junior Golden Eagle program in West Michigan. We would like to thank the Foglia Foundation for providing funds to bring baseball into urban areas and reignite the passion for the game.

Cuba Mission Trip

This December, the Cornerstone University Baseball will be traveling to Cuba for a short-term missions project. We will be taking the entire team and coaching staff to Alamar, a community outside of Havana. Throughout the week-long trip, we will not only play baseball, but also serve the local house-church network through various service projects and home visits. The trip will be conducted with the assistance of Global Baseball. We will be entering the country with religious visas and the blessings of the Cuban government. Our head JV coach Peter Millar, who is the National Director for Global Baseball, and the rest of the staff have done great work creating good relationships between themselves and the Cuban government. This gives us a great opportunity to go into Cuba and openly share the Gospel message. We hope that this trip will not only succeed in spreading the Gospel, but will give the players a chance to grow even more in their own spiritual walks. The coaching staff and players are excited to see what God has in store for us all in Cuba!

Former Major League Players Lend a Helping Hand

From the beginning, we have been very fortunate to have a few former Major League players come work with the team. For the past two years, the team has gone on a retreat to Camp Harvest up in Newaygo, MI. At each of these retreats, we have been blessed to have both Brian Doyle and Lee Guetterman join us for some teaching sessions. Both men spent some additional time with the team during fall ball here at Cornerstone University. We were also able to have Sid Bream come work with our first-basemen for a few days during the fall. Brian led the Yankees in batting during the 1978 World Series, Lee pitched twelve solid seasons in the big leagues, and Sid is best known for “the Slide” that sent the Atlanta Braves to the 1992 World Series. Throughout our time with these men, they have shared their knowledge of the game and imparted significant life lessons to the players. While each of them have done a significant amount of work with the team as a whole, Sid, Brian, and Lee were also very accessible for one-on-one work and conversations.  These times offered great opportunities for the team to grow as ballplayers and as men. The Cornerstone Baseball team has been incredibly fortunate to have these three men share their time with us.