Cresthill/Bowie Baysox Partnership is a Hit!

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Building Relationships and Finding Opportunities

By Ben McBride

BOWIE, Md. — Cresthill Church, Bowie, partnering with the Bowie Baysox Club, sponsored a Mother-Son Night Out at the Baysox game on July 21 at Prince George’s Stadium. The church used the event to engage visitors as well as to bring awareness and raise funds for Night to Shine. Fans got commemorative t-shirts that included Cresthill Church as a sponsor as part of the special ticket package. The PA announcer gave shout-outs to Cresthill and Night to Shine (NTS) and encouraged visitors to stop by the booth. And, to top it off, Cresthill Senior Pastor Jimmy Painter threw out the opening pitch.

Gene Meacham shows off the Mother Son Night Out shirt with Cresthill’s emblem. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

NTS is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation to, per their website, give a “prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for individuals with special needs, ages 14 and older.” Painter says, “Night to Shine is one of the most important things any church can do at any time. Disability groups are the largest unreached people group and are often forgotten about.”

The church had two tables in what Painter calls “prime real estate” along the first baseline. They were situated amongst banners of famous former Baysox players Nick Markakis, Cedric Mullins, and Grayson Rodriguez, across from one of the main concession stands and team stores. In addition to having part of their tabling dedicated to NTS, they also gave away Bibles, Christian literature and information about the church. Passers-by were invited to stop and spin a wheel to win prizes, including branded hand fans (very popular in the heat of the evening), stress balls that look like baseballs, frisbees and other goodies. Several people, after spinning the wheel, asked for Bibles in lieu of the prizes.

Cresthill Outreach Pastor Gene Meacham surprised Painter by arranging for him to throw the first pitch. Painter was thrilled. He says, “I was nervous about throwing it too high and it going over his head. I overcompensated and threw it too low.”

A young boy examines his baseball (stress ball) he won as a prize while the dad chats with Cresthill Senior Pastor Jimmy Painter. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

The event, much like the eventual Baysox win and firework show, was a great success and the t-shirts for the mother-son night were seen all over the stadium. Throughout the night, the Cresthill table was busy and members seized the opportunity to start conversations with both familiar and unfamiliar faces.

The church has been in the community for a long time and many people are familiar with it, which Painter believes helps with the church’s messaging. When asked if Cresthill always sees the fruit of the seeds they plant at the stadium, Painter responded with a quote from Pepper ‘n Salt, a book by Vance Havner, that has been with him since he was saved at 17, “God calls us to play the game, not keep the score.” He said the goal of this ministry is to create a low-pressure atmosphere where people can be introduced to the word of God, and hopefully, through God’s grace, come to have a relationship with the Lord.

Painter credits much of this ministry to Meacham. While this is the church’s second year partnering with the Baysox, Meacham has had season tickets for 20 years at Bowie. At a game with Painter a few years ago, Meacham discussed the idea with Painter. They took it to the Baysox and the club agreed.

Jeff Chadwick (left) and Cresthill Senior Pastor Jimmy Painter engage guests who stop by the Cresthill table. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

Since the Baysox team had never partnered with a church, Meacham and Painter had to build a template for the ministry from scratch. The church has now gone from having tables at eight games last year to 12 this year.

In addition to the mother-son game, the church also sponsored the father-daughter night on August 4 in a similar fashion. Painter says the church loves sponsoring these events for two reasons. The first is that it stresses the value of family and taking care of each other and the second is that they are the two of the busiest nights of the year.

Painter has relished the opportunity the church has had, saying “God opened a massive door for us. It’s a crazy opportunity.” Another blessing that has occurred is the ability for the church to reach out and witness to management and employees when the opportunity arises. Painter believes the ministry can spread through all minor and major league parks in the country, stating “What we have come up with and are blessed with is replicable. I believe to my core that this model can be used, and it truly works.” In an effort to continue to see this ministry grow, Painter says Cresthill is more than willing to partner with other churches who seek to start a similar program at their local park. Email Painter at [email protected]