Awestruck. That’s the word of the day. Nothing else can adequately describe how I feel about the transformation of Batey Aleman. You know, we talk a lot about children and we talk about our different programs, but really, we at Compassion don’t always do a good job of highlighting the transformation of families and whole communities through children.
It was clear to me yesterday as I arrived at the batey, full of boys still in their baseball uniforms, glowing with a new found identity. They proudly wear “Batey Aleman” and feel a sense of community with this village.
I found out today that the word “batey” is Creole for a shanty town. I find it hard to imagine feeling good about wearing the word “batey” on a uniform. I would have difficulty feeling a sense of belonging with that polarizing label sewn across my chest.
For these kids, that does not matter. Where they come from is more than a degrading label. Where they come from is their family, their friends and their God, who does not distinguish between Batey Aleman and Beverly Hills.
When God transforms lives and minds, He takes the negative connotations of everything that we are and makes them beautiful, with meaning, purpose and a uniqueness all its own.
These kids were beaming during their team photographs. The coaches were even beaming because they now have an awesome responsibility that they were purposed to undertake. They all live in this community. They all come from a very meager material existence. But each one of them – the women, children and even the men, see an opportunity to be a part of something greater than themselves.
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While this may seem like a small feat to most of us who have been blessed with material gifts, for them, it’s monumental and hopefully, propelling. Propelling in their faith, in their lives and in their calling.
I know I am waxing emotional and not providing a lot of the day’s details, but I can’t help but take what I saw with my own eyes and try to place some semblance of human sense into it because words cannot explain this community from a spiritual standpoint.
And, oh yes, the men still were around. The day after Father’s Day and they are still participating.
Imagine the next generation of children in this batey believing they are worth something. That they have a God-ordained purpose for their lives. That they are loved and worthy in the eyes of the most powerful Being in the universe, even amongst gangs, drugs and areas of Satan’s greatest strongholds.
What a powerful place to be. Can something as simple as baseball help break the cycle of poverty in this batey? Can it be that we’ve won a battle in a greater, more treacherous war? I pray it is so.