It was most likely a bureaucratic or careless mistake, but that didn’t stop the Petah Tikva Municipality from throwing an unexpected curve ball at the 2009 Maccabiah Games
. Play was halted when Israeli police came onto the field to inform participants that the Baptist Village
was operating without the proper business license
. Municipal officials are concerned that in case of an injury, on the unlicensed location, the municipality would be held responsible. So, organizers are scrambling for a solution, or possibly an alternative venue.
l feels that another venue might not be such a bad idea, for an entirely different reason.
The Baptist Villag
e uses baseball as a “sports ministry” (“sports outreach”) which “opens the door to gospel witness”
,so say Baptist representatives.
“Several ABC officials have expressed the idea that the use of Baptist Village could include innovative outreach ministries, as well as support ministries for the Local Evangelical Church in Israel for "serving the churches and providing them with such a safe and refreshing place will lead inevitably to healthier churches and more people coming to Christ".
And Herbby Geer is the village “missionary” and Southern Baptist Convention representative in Israel. Unlike other denominations, the Baptists and Southern Baptists do not shy away from using the “M” label for Herbby Geer and his wife Anna. They are proud of their missionaries.
This writer had written about Geer’s connection to a replica of the Tabernacle at the JNF Timna Park back in December 2007, “where Christian guides regularly conduct tours, telling the religious significance of the tabernacle and how it points to the ministry of Jesus.”
Worth noting is that Herbby Geer the representative – in charge of softball evangelism - for the Baptist Village community , made “church persecution” headlines in 2006 when he and his wife were denied visa renewals and were subsequently asked to leave the country by the Interior Ministry.
In 2005 an Alabama paper (article no longer online) had Geer “at the helm” of the Maccabiah Softball Games, "sharing the gospel of baseball” alongside a group of Baptist volunteer ticket-takers from an Alabama church.
But, that same missionary church group from 2005 (Shades Mountain Baptist) was invited to volunteer for “an incredibly unique ministry opportunity: provide hospitality services for the 2009 Maccabiah Games at the Baptist Village in Israel.” And they make no bones about their mission:
"According to the Acts 1:8 challenge given to us by Christ, Shades Mountain Baptist Church is committed to the task of being witnesses for Christ, in our Jerusalem, our Judea, our Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
If that doesn’t make you want to take the game elsewhere, consider that Pastor Dan Sered, the head of Jews for Jesus in Israel (the dude who plasters Israel with Jesus billboards and claims Jewish converts on a monthly basis), is the Pastor of the All Nations Baptist Church which holds its services at the Baptist Village – including lunch, air conditioning, and holy communion. And Sered and Jews for Jesus makes it very clear that they intend to “make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue” to the Jewish people.
So Maccabiah participants who take the preservation of their Jewish heritage seriously should be singing, “Take Me Out of the Ballgame”, until the Maccabiah organizers can find a more kosher venue.
(Thanks to JI members Jason Levinson and Toby Klein Greenwald for their research assistance)
(June 16) The Softball Games are Resuming at the Baptist Village
Missionary Volunteers offer Prayers for Maccabiah:
In addition to Alabama congregations, the Southern Baptist Churches in Southwest Ohio are sending two groups of missionary volunteers to the Baptist Village
in Israel to assist with the Maccabiah 2009 games. They are praying for us. Far be it for Jewish Israel
to intrude into the heads and hearts of Southern Baptists, but seeing as they published it…
Excerpts from The Prayer guide for 13 days of Maccabiah Games in Israel:
Tuesday, July 14th- Lift up the individuals who play on the Israeli Men’s softball teams, of all ages. Many of them have been playing on Baptist Village property for many years. Pray that the Son will shine through the staff, and we would be able to give an account for the hope that is within us…
Wednesday, July 15th- Pray for the Israeli Women’s teams of all ages. Several of these ladies/girls have been playing at our facility for years and have seen Christ’s love through the actions of many. Pray that the Holy Spirit would move in a miraculous way in each of their hearts.
Friday, July 17th- Remember the umpires and officials that will be calling the games today. Pray that they will notice the Love of Christ in our volunteers and workers. Also, our second group of volunteers arrives on this day. Ask the Father to bless their travel, give them safety and good health…
Saturday, July 18th- Two separate church groups, as well as several units from other places, have flown in specifically to help with these games. Pray that they would be blessed with good health and strength as they reach out to every individual involved with this event. On this Sabbath day, also lift up all of our believing brothers and sisters that are worshiping together today. Persecution against believers is rising here, and in the midst, we continue to pray for strength and boldness.
If the above report disturbs you
to the Maccabiah: email@example.com
to Limor Livnat, the Minister of Culture and Sport: firstname.lastname@example.org
to Stas Misezhnikov, the Toursim Minister: email@example.com
to the Ministry if the Interior: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact The Israel Softball Association
UPDATE: Batting for Jesus