TULSA, Okla. - It's not every day collegiate student-athletes are privileged with the opportunity to listen to a world series winning pitcher tell about his walk with Christ.
However, on Friday, former major league pitcher Mark Redman blessed the athletes, coaches and staff of the Oral Roberts athletic department with his testimony from coming to know Christ in high school through his major league career during the department's monthly chapel.
One of Redman's main themes throughout his message was how he used his abilities as an athlete to minister to those around him.
He reminisced on a time when pitching for the Detroit Tigers, he handed a ball with Philippians 4:13 inscribed on it to a fan that was heckling him prior to a start at Yankee Stadium. Redman said as he walked away from the fan, who had "called me everything in the book," changed his tone and began to cheer for the veteran pitcher.
A native of San Diego, Calif., Redman began his collegiate career on the mound for Master's College, where his relationship with Christ began to grow. During his time at the small California school, he took on a life motto of "pursue your dreams with courage," which was posted in the highway of his dorm at the time.
After his freshman season, he was given an opportunity to join University of Oklahoma baseball team, where he pitched on the 1994 World Series Championship team. Despite a fear he would lose in his walk with Christ, Redman said his trust in God ultimately got him through that chapter in his life.
Redman went on to pitch 14 seasons of professional baseball, ten of which were in the big leagues. While many would be frustrated with moving around as much as Redman did, playing for nine organizations, Redman mentioned how he was blessed to travel around and be able to impact lives while being impacted as well from those around him.
Following a disappointing season with the Tigers in 2002, Redman went on to pitch on to pitch for the 2003 Florida Marlins team that defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series. He also went on to play on the 2007 Colorado Rockies that reached the fall classic.
The former big leaguer was candid about his time in the majors, including that tough 2002 season. He mentioned that it was a true test of faith as his teammates played for themselves, and was a part of a clubhouse with a lot of drugs and steroids, where he estimated "80-percent of my teammates were using steroids."
However, he remembers Damian Easley telling to "hand it to God," referencing John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (NIV)
He stressed to those in attendance that focus in God is pivotal in achieving goals in life.
"God is the vine and we are the branches," Redman mentioned. "If the branches aren't surrounded by the deep rooted vine, there will be no fruit."
Redman also referenced 2 Samuel 22:33; "It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my ways secure." (NIV)
He went on to say how his faithfulness during the tough times in Detroit was rewarded by his new contract with the eventual world champions in Florida, where not only did he achieve the goal of most players in winning a championship, but he pitched his best season in the majors.
As he closed his time, Redman said that he "wants to be remembered not as a baseball play, but as a good Christian man." He then went on to challenge the student-athletes in attendance, "It's not what you do that matters; its how you are."