Make it home, no matter the odds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 16, 2011

I’m not going to say sports are important to my family, but before making an appointment for her surgery, my dad asked my mom to consult the baseball schedule. There’s just something about baseball that I love. You start from home with the intention of rounding the bases. To do so means you must face everything the opposition throws at you. Curve balls, fast balls, sliders. They all come flying as you attempt to bat that ball as far away from you as possible. When you do, your teammates cheer as you venture away from home and run out to make your mark. All the while, the other team still attempts to put you out of the game. Your goal? To make it back home safely, where your teammates run to greet you.

During a recent baseball game, my dad approached me with a question. “Do you want to come with me to Fountainebleau Treatment Center tonight? Mrs. Lola is bringing some of the ladies from the prayer group.” Although I had gone to the park with the intention of staying for two games, I welcomed the opportunity to watch my dad minister to the men at the treatment center and to visit with the ladies.

Mrs. Lola Mahler started the St. Francis of Assisi prayer group 13 years ago. These devout women meet every Sunday evening to pray for many people, including my parents and the ministry of Get High on Life. Seven members of the group were taking the 90-minute trip to Fountainbleau, and they were bringing food. Dirty rice, corn, biscuits, 200 pieces of Popeye’s fried chicken and more desserts than I can name. Yes! The decision to accompany them was an easy one.

As I sat at the treatment center and listened to another of my dad’s inspiring talks, I wasn’t just impressed by the words but by the sincerity, love and commitment he has for the people at Fountainebleau. He speaks with the same excitement and zeal he exhibited when he first started his weekly trips there, more than 17 years ago.

Just as impressive to me was the prayer group. They were attentive during the meeting, served food until not one more man could eat one more bite, then visited and encouraged many of the clients who are seeking to better themselves and eventually return home. As they went about talking to men, I thought of the prayer the ladies pray at their own weekly meeting.

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.”

As I watched them interact, I realized these ladies don’t just pray the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi; they live it out. By interceding for the people at Fountainebleau, they have placed themselves on the same team. They pray for them to be successful, to be able to handle the temptations thrown their way and for them to eventually make it home safely. And if I am allowed just one more baseball analogy, may I say that last week, my dad and the St. Francis prayer group knocked it out of the park.

Ronny may be reached at