Taking the gospel, baseball to Uganda
David Kaufmann of Rockdale can appreciate that. He has returned from what he terms a “life changing” experience this fall, a mission trip to several orphanages in Uganda.
Part of his duties on that trip included teaching baseball to Ugandan youngsters.
Kaufmann is uniquely qualified for that task. The office manager for GFL Americas in Rockdale, he was formerly a major league baseball scout for the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals.
PRIORITIES—Kaufmann, who is also a deacon at First Baptist Church, is very clear that baseball wasn’t the prime reason for the trip, under the auspices of Parental Care Ministries, which operates the orphanages for about 600 Ugandan youngsters.
After that? “Recreation,” Kaufmann said. “We thought it would be nice to expose them to something they’ve never experienced before.”
BASEBALL CAPS—Uganda has generated thousands of orphans, mostly due to war and disease.
“It’s such a poor country anyway and then when you become an orphan you literally don’t have anything,” he said.
“These kids will have everything they own in a little box on their beds,” he said. “And that may be one or two pieces of clothing and a Pepsi. And I’m not kidding. I’ve seen those kids make a soft drink, something we just take for granted, last a month.”
But Kaufmann added many prized possessions to Ugandan orphans lives last months, delivering more than 300 baseball caps, donated by Rockdale residents.
“ Those caps immediately became treasures to the kids,” he said. “I don’t know if I can explain to people who gave us caps just how much it meant. I know once a child came up to our vehicle on the road and I reached out and tossed him a cap.
WIFFLE BALL—The baseball teaching was a surprise.
“ They were great, both boys and girls picked up the skills right away,” he said. “We started out wanting to teach them to catch, but that skill was already there. Batting was what they really loved and their hand-eye coordination developed so quickly. It was just wonderful to see. I was amazed how quickly they picked it up.”
Did the old scouting reflex kick in? Did Kaufmann start evaluating something he’s very good at?
He laughed. “ I guess you always think ‘what if,’ but I just enjoyed watching the kids have so much fun at doing something new.”
WORSHIP—Kaufmann obv iously loves the children he encountered and the feeling of awe creeps into his voice at times.
“ They’ve got nothing, and I mean that literally,” he said. “I mean you look at a child and, besides the clothes they’ve got on, they may have one other shirt and that’s it.”
“And yet their spirits are good and they are relentlessly cheerful,” Kaufmann said. “They have tremendous love in their hearts and it’s all w ithout material things.”
“ The services last four and a half hours,” Kaufmann said. “But it doesn’t seem like it. And you don’t want to leave. You don’t want to go anywhere else.”
RETURN—He’s going back.
“This has been a life-changing experience for me,” Kaufmann said. “I’ve already got plans to go back in June.”
“It was hard to leave all that love,” he said.
Parental Care Ministries was begun by Ugandan Pastor Emmy Nnyanzi and w ife, Sarah, in 1997.
Today, it oversees close to 1,000 children in several school settings along with more than 40 pastors and churches.
Partners in the United States may sponsor a child for $35 per month, which includes food, clothing, shelter, security, medical care and a Christian education.
For information go to www.pcmonline.org or call 903-526- 0499.