On Saturday, November 4th, over 300 kids and parents flooded through registration and onto the fields of the Mercy Street Sports Complex with tangible anticipation for Kershaw’s Challenge Baseball Camp. Mercy Street Director of Sports, Lee Jackson, had been up since 6:30 a.m. preparing for the day’s events.
“Camp means...we give the kids an opportunity to spend time with a guy [Kershaw] who cares about the community,” Lee explains. “But it’s also an opportunity to share the Gospel.”
The camp allows campers to engage with members of the Dallas Baptist University baseball team, 35 of whom showed up to help run the stations. “It gives [the campers] an outlet to start dreaming about college, about going to the next level, about baseball. We just want to inspire the kids to dream bigger than this situation here,” says Lee. “A lot of kids have been inspired to go to DBU for college, just because they know they care.”
The camp ran from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., kicking off with an introduction from Lee and an early lunch provided by Pro Players Foundation. The campers were then divided by age, paired with DBU baseball players, and whisked off to various fields of the Sports Complex. The DBU players led their groups through stretches and a rotation of drills throughout the day.
Clayton Kershaw arrived at noon after an exhausting few days following the World Series, but his spirit could not be dampened. At one point, Kershaw’s sister asked if he needed some coffee, but Kershaw’s response was that he was feeling good and energized now that he was with the kids. The campers were thrilled to see Kershaw, each one vying for a few moments of his attention. Kershaw was generous in offering smiles, hugs, and baseball pointers to the campers throughout the day.
The day wrapped up with a DBU player sharing his testimony; Kershaw speaking about fear, failure, and trusting God’s plan in the aftermath of the World Series; and Lee explaining the Gospel to kids and parents.
Families from Minnesota, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Michigan had made the journey to West Dallas, eager to be a part Kershaw’s Challenge Baseball Camp. They were not disappointed, and as one mom said, “we were very humbled...we came all the way from Birmingham. Definitely some great ball players out of Dallas!”
Lee Jackson received an encouraging email from the father of a camper. The email read,
This kind of engagement with parents represents the mutually-transformative, incarnational relationships that Mercy Street and Mercy Street Sports seek to build.
Clayton Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, founded Kershaw’s Challenge in 2011 with the vision to “encourage people to use whatever God-given passion or talent they have to make a difference and give back to people in need” and “empower people to use their spheres of influence to positively impact communities and to expand God’s Kingdom.” They carry out this mission through a variety of projects. The organization partners with Behind Every Door of Northeast Dallas to provide after-school programs and funding for facilities, Dream Center of Los Angeles to equip students with school supplies, Arise Africa of Zambia to offer a home for children in need, and Cure International of the Dominican Republic to provide surgery for children whose families cannot afford it. Additionally, they have supported Mercy Street in building the Field of Dreams and hosting Kershaw’s Challenge Baseball Camp.