by Anthony DeMonaco
MADISON HEIGHTS, MI – A professional athlete, multiple business owners, executives of large corporations, best-selling author, motivational speaker, and eager disciples of each; these are the people who raised me. This is my family. This is a ‘wish list’ of mentors, worldly speaking. The spiritual lens, however, simply shows death. Death coupled with adulation, bravado, and a façade of importance. Death coupled with spiritual blindness.
I carry a burden for the ‘successful’ lost; the lost that are rarely found. The Lord called me to start a chaplaincy ministry for professional baseball players in 2016 and has blessed us graciously. There are now 10 of us serving, and He is using us in ways that I never would have imagined. The inquiry we get the most from the players, “Why are you guys always happy?” It’s an amazing jump-off point.
Last September, the Lord led me through Colossians and Ephesians. I’ve spent months reading and praying through these 10 chapters. Individual study, corporate study, the individual’s role in God’s overall plan, the churches role in God’s plan, etc. I began to teach through them this February to a men’s group from my church, the chaplains, and a group of now retired baseball players. My grasp and communication of the Scripture was nothing special, however each group commented on the peace and joy they were witnessing in me personally. Praise the Lord.
On March 23rd, I was informed that a dear man that I knew and loved for 35 years, had 48 hours to live. He was a cancer patient, however this was completely unexpected. The quarantine did not allow for any form of ‘see you later’. On April 1st, my wife was informed that her 43-year-old sister had gone into cardiac arrest during a routine treatment. She passed 2 days later. Again, unable to say ‘see you later’. We also were not able to mourn with those who hurt with us. This scenario played out 6 more times in April. That is, we lost 8 people during the COVID-19 quarantine. The virus did not claim them all, and a couple of them could be considered expected. However, they all died alone and we were cheated out of our last moments. We were cheated out of being with our families to mourn and comfort. We were unfairly impacted, and everyone would agree.
On March 27th, I received a text from a player that I ministered to last season. It said, “Tony, can you please help me to know God?” I hadn’t communicated with him since October. We had a decent relationship, but he wasn’t interested in the message. We spoke the following day about control, or really the perception of control. He wanted to know how to get off of the roller coaster. Achievers experience the highest of highs, but they tend to have lower lows, too. We got into the Word of God, we talked, we prayed; and on April 13th, he gave his life to Christ.
The phone kept ringing – ball players and family, alike. Losing their ‘path’ was dire. Their lives made no sense. How could anyone be stable without control? With each death we had to face, the Lord was able to show through us – to show that peace, love, and joy can be completely separated from conditions and circumstances. He let us experience the pinnacle of human existence. The Lord let us be a part of redeeming the lost.
What I take away from all of this is humble gratitude. The Lord began preparing me months ago to use us in an amazing way. Col 1:15-20; Eph 1:10; 2:10; 3:10. A significant amount of loss was allowed into our lives under circumstances that could have derailed us. However, those same circumstances opened doors to the Kingdom that we didn’t know existed. April 2020 will be remembered in our house for exponential growth in faith. Put on the eternal, spiritual lens. The view is perfect.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony and his wife Tifanie live in Madison Heights with their two children, Madison and Bobby. He serves as President of Stewardship Consultants, Executive Director of Champion Sports Ministries and treasurer of The Church at Clawson in Michigan.