It was in the spring of 2008 when I heard about this team in Oklahoma City that was being put together to travel and play in elite baseball tournaments while being discipled and spreading the gospel. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that the summer of 2008 would change my life forever.
From day one, there was a bond and brotherhood that started for the 2008 team that is abnormal. We were more than just teammates. We were accountability partners and brothers on a team that formed one of the tightest bonds I’ve ever been a part of in just two short months. We played for something more than ourselves and we played for each other. This brotherhood was formed quickly, because of Chris Wall and the coaches starting to tell us the story about this young man named Justin David Sullivan. He was an amazing baseball player, but an even better Christian who courageously followed Jesus Christ. His story was easy for all of us to relate with, but when we started to hear about his journal we were amazed to see and hear the words with how he talked about our God. Each of us felt connected to Justin right away, but it was the last night that we were together as a team in Nicaragua when God moved in each of our hearts.
From left to right: Ryan Williams, Chase Roten, Sydni Chappell (Sullivan), Cole Meeks, Tim Cole
Every tournament that we played in 2008 had one day that it rained. During our last game in Nicaragua, a tropical rain came over our field and started to down pour. As all of the locals started to leave, the Ambassadors started to run the bases and slide in the mud! We were all laughing like little boys and played in the rain until it stopped. We then broke our last huddle and yelled “J.D.S” at the top of our lungs! Later that night, we were told that the song that was playing in Justin’s car the time of the accident was “When the rain comes” by Third Day. Tears began to fill all of our eyes and it was at that moment that each of us felt Justin. Till this day, every time it rains I am reminded of that moment. Also, I continue to put Justin’s initials J.D.S in every hat that I own to be reminded of the impact he made in so many lives including mine.
My life verse is Joshua 1:9
“Have I not commanded you? Be STRONG and COURAGOUES. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you WHEREVER you go.” Joshua 1:9
The verse Joshua 1:9 has given me strength more times than I can count. I believe that Justin modeled this verse so well. He was strong and courageous in his life and he knew that our God was with him wherever he would go. Though he is gone today, he continues to impact thousands of young baseball players to realize that they can play for something bigger than themselves.
Being a part of the Ambassador organization is not something you go through and then look ahead for what’s next. It stays with you. It becomes part of your glue as a young man following Christ, and it has become one of my cornerstones in life. I never had the privilege of meeting Justin, but this young man who was only on this earth for 18 years taught me what it looks like to live a life worth following. I am honored to be apart of this organization and coach this team!
OKC Ambassadors Manager
2008 OKC Ambassador Alum