It was about three years ago now when my wife, Mikaela, and I went on a missions trip to the Philippines with my team chaplain, Brian Hommel. We visited an organization called Consider the Lily, which rescues young girls and women from abusive homes and sex trafficking. This organization changes their lives, not just in this life by offering education, health and the opportunity to attend college, but also by offering hope for eternal life as they teach them about the salvation and message of Jesus Christ.
When we got back home, our hearts were stirred to do something. We saw the work being done there and really felt a need to help these women. Sex trafficking is one of those things you think of as a faraway issue until you actually see it right there in front of you. But it’s a real thing. At the time, I was in low-A ball and didn’t have the ability or platform to make a huge impact, but God put it on our hearts to get involved, so we did what we could. Mikaela and I started trying to spread awareness and donate to the organization ourselves.
Last year while I was with the Rays, I started Home Runs for Hope, which was a commitment I made to donate a certain amount of money to the cause for each homer I hit. This money mostly went to the girls’ college education and other needs within the program. This year, there is a project to build a new house for more girls. Right now, there’s only one house for these girls, but one of the girls who has been rescued and graduated from the program wants to go to the capital city of Manila and build her own Consider the Lily house to help more women and girls.
It’s an amazing dream, but it’s going to cost a lot of money. Not only will they have to build a house, but they will have to put in place the right security and protection measures, as well as transportation for the girls. These two factors — security and transportation — are huge. Whenever you do Kingdom work in places where the Gospel is not usually shared, there are dark things that can happen in response to your efforts.
In addition to the fundraising and spreading of awareness we’ve been doing, this year we are also partnering with Big League Impact to help Consider the Lily. This organization, started by Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, is a great way to combine fun relationship building with fans and players through Fantasy Football leagues and other events, with raising money and awareness to causes like Consider the Lily, Crisis Aid and others.
When people hear about what’s going on in the Philippines and other poverty-stricken areas around the world, they want to help. One of the biggest things we can do, outside of giving our own time and resources, is to make others aware of what’s going on in the world around us. Last year, the Rays jumped on board and let us put an ad up for Consider the Lily so people could click on it to find out more and donate their own money. The MLB Player’s Union also was a great partner in this effort. We heard many stories from fans who donated anywhere from $1 to $1,000, and every dollar helped! Other players, such as Nick Ahmed, Ian Kennedy, Nick Hundley and Chase Anderson, are getting out in front of this by donating their own money, as well as spreading awareness.
It’s been amazing to see the growth and impact that’s taken place for the program in the past few years. By simply saying “yes” to a call we knew God placed on our hearts, we’ve been able to be a part of God’s Kingdom work all around the world, partnering with players, fans and other ministries to see incredible miracles take place.
— Steven Souza, Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.