Luke Miller has no preconceived idea of what it is going to be like to do mission work while playing baseball in Cuba.
The Columbia College junior, who played baseball at Blue Springs High School and was also a member of the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s, will join Paul Dudley’s Eternal Pastime missionary group that will travel to Cuba and interact with young people on the baseball field and any other place they gather to spread the word of God July 3-11.
“I’m so excited,” said Miller, who raised more than $1,700 through a GoFundMe page, donations from friends and members of his First Christian Church in Blue Springs and a generous birthday gift of cash from his mother and father.
“I really thought I was going to have to come up with about $1,000 of my own money,” Miller added, “and now, thanks to everyone’s generosity, I’m going to need to come up with about $200.”
And Miller believes that is money well spent.
Richard Wood, the Hall of Fame former baseball coach at Blue Springs South High School, talked to Miller about making the mission trip at church one Sunday, and he was intrigued.
“Mr. Wood put me in touch with Paul Dudley, who runs a sports equipment ministry called Eternal Pastime out of the St. Louis area,” said Miller, who played in the Junior Sunbelt Tournament his junior year at Blue Springs. “They do mission work, and send sports equipment to kids who can’t afford it. When I heard about it, I got all my old stuff and am taking it down there.
“And I was talking to my baseball coach at Columbia College and he said we’re getting new catching gear, so I’m taking my old gear to Cuba, too. And a friend of mine is giving me his gear to donate.”
Eternal Pastime is a small organization, but Miller said it sends used equipment to 45 different countries.
“They do some good things and I can’t wait to see what the trip is going to be like,” Miller said. “We’re actually taking college-aged kids and kids who just graduated from high school and we have enough for a baseball team.
“We’re going to play as many games as we can early in the morning, around 10:30 or 11 a.m. and then get together with the kids for mission work afterwards. It sounds so cool. I can’t wait to get down there.”
Miller and his new teammates will be playing games against teams from the Cuban Christian League and help run sports camps for kids.
“I want to help make an impact on those kids’ lives,” he said. “If I do it playing ball, or ministering to them – whatever works best. And it is so cool, I don’t know a lot of Spanish, but Mr. Dudley is giving each one of us a Spanish-language bible to use in our ministry.”
When he’s not playing baseball or working with youngsters, he does need to purchase a few Cuban cigars.
“Yeah,” he said, chuckling, “on my GoFundMe Page I told anyone who contributed that I would bring them back a Cuban cigar. That’s my one goal. The rest of the time, I just want to experience everything this trip has to offer.”
To learn more about Eternal Pastime, go to www.eternalpastime.org.