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PART II - Following Adoniram

November 28, 2016

Following Adoniram - Leadership Lessons (PART II)

Almost two hundred years later God has called another Brown graduate (class of 1983) in the Baptist tradition to set out to leave Christ’s marker on various parts of the world and proclaim His name. Michael LaPierre has a dream of impacting others for Christ with a leadership training and development ministry.   

Leadership Lesson #8 – Christians should be ready, willing, and able to heed God’s call to preach and teach His word to the uttermost parts of the earth.  The challenge is for each one of us within our respective spheres of influence to step up and be Christian leaders. We may not be called to be men and women of great renown, but we are called to use the divine gifts we have been given for His Kingdom. 

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19, 20)

I would like to use the rest of this article to describe how God has called me to Himself and how he has used Adoniram Judson’s life and testimony as a wonderful blessing in a recent trip to India. How could someone with less than a 3.0 GPA in high school with SAT scores south of 1000 get into an elite university? A divine orchestration and a providential roadmap is the answer. God had some important work for me to do later on in life. He knew that He wanted me to proclaim His name to various parts of the world and made sure that He laid the pathway to achieve His perfect will in my life!

It just so happened that the baseball coach at Brown drove to my high school (Bonny Eagle High School in West Buxton, Maine) and showed up at one of my basketball practices. Yes, I did say basketball practice. I had one of the best practices of my entire life. I noticed that day that there was a man in the stands, but was unaware that he was a baseball coach from Brown on a recruiting trip. After the practice he drove me home and asked if I was interested in attending Brown University. I immediately showed all my cards (innocence and naivety) and mentioned that I had never heard of Brown before. Where was it located? What was it all about? Was the baseball team any good? Would I be starting? That was all I was interested in at the time. Well, one week later and as a result of that one basketball practice, the baseball coached called me and mentioned that I was going to be his #1 baseball recruit! How did he even now that I could play baseball, I wondered? Later on I found out that he talked to both my baseball and basketball coach who said a few flattering things about my desire to compete and win. I was so excited about the prospect of playing baseball at a school who seemed genuinely interested in me and my baseball talents! However, there was still that little challenge of convincing the university’s admission board that if accepted, I would be able to handle the academic challenges and workload that lay ahead. I can’t blame them for worrying about letting someone into their university who had demonstrated so little aptitude for higher education. I then proceeded, in typical form, to botch my admissions essay and got it returned to me with a note from my coach. Coach mentioned that I should take the essay very seriously and that I should put a compelling story together of why I would be a good fit at Brown University. I changed a few sentences around, sent it back in and waited for a response. I was being recruited by a few other schools for baseball at the time (University of Vermont and Rollins College) and didn’t really care. In the mean-time, while waiting for a response I began to investigate what the school was all about. I found out that it was an Ivy League School. So what? What does that mean? It had rigorous academic standards. Most of the students were exceptionally bright people. Then the light went off and I realized that I might be in trouble if I went there! I was a lousy student that didn’t apply himself (i.e. work hard) and who would be potentially attending a very challenging university. A few months later I was notified that I was accepted. My friends, teachers, and other peers at my high school could not believe it! They were beside themselves. They all knew my study habits and my class ranking and could not believe that Brown had let me into their quality university. After much agonizing and contemplation about my college decision, I decided to attend Brown University. Once at Brown I learned early on what it would take to survive. It was going to take a determination and competitive spirit like no other I have ever exhibited. In the end I was privileged to have completed both Political Science and Organizational Behavior & Management degrees, while attending the university. I truly believe that the Creator of this world orchestrated my four years at Brown. His hand was evident. There were even multiple occasions at the university where Christians witnessed to me about my need for the Lord. There also were several who willingly shared the good news of the gospel message with me. The seeds were being sown and God was charting a path in life that would be unimaginable. I was still a very long way away from accepting Christ as my Savior. Enter baseball.

I had an absolute blast playing baseball during my college years. I took it very seriously. Hours upon hours were spent in the weight room and batting cage. I was determined to compete at the highest levels in college and beyond. I made honorable mention my freshman year and hit .333, and was blessed with First Team All-New England and First Team All-Ivy League Honors my junior year. Coach Stenhouse told me that I could potentially be a top 10 pick in the amateur baseball draft in June of 1982. Then the unthinkable happened. I can remember like it was yesterday. We were playing a game at Cornell University on a cold blistery day in April of 1982. I reached first base on an infield hit and then immediately stole second base on the very next pitch. Two pitches later I was on my way to third base attempting to steal third. Three quarters of the way there I felt a rip in my hamstring. I was devastated. There were 2 weeks left in the season with a bunch of games remaining to be played and I had to play injured with a ripped hammy. The results were pathetic. I just could not get around on the ball at the plate like I needed to. I could barely make it down the base paths. My average dropped from .424 to .376 by the end of my junior year. A wonderful average in many respects, but not where I wanted to end up. In the ensuing All-Star game that year I again tried to play with the injury. My coach convinced me to play and it was disastrous. I re-injured my hamstring and struck out three times. The professional baseball scouts backed way off. They wanted to see how the hamstring would react to therapy and whether or not the base stealing ability and speed would still be there the following year. They wanted to see me play again my senior year and “passed” on drafting me as a junior. My world was turned upside down. I was angry, bitter, resentful, and wanted to quit baseball. I felt like my chances to play professionally were all but gone. Why this injury? Why me? Why now? Once again, looking back I can clearly see that it was part of God’s plan. He was simply slowing my enthusiasm for the game of baseball down a little bit. The Lord was trying to recalibrate my sensitivities to life beyond baseball. But then the unthinkable happened once again.

I was called by the Montreal Expos baseball team on that fateful (divine) day in June of 1983 and was asked to sign a professional baseball contract. I could never quite figure out why the Expos would express any interest in me (outside of God’s divine plan) since my senior year was once again injury plagued with very little productivity. I hit .333 again with very limited at bats. I reinjured my hamstring for the 4th or 5th time and struggled to contribute to the team’s success my senior year. I had all but given up on the hopes and dreams of playing professionally. But the phone call came from the Expos just the same, and I was on cloud nine with excitement. After the phone call I went into my bedroom and cried like a baby. While still unsaved at the time, I knelt by my bedside and thanked God for the opportunity to play baseball at the professional level. After an abbreviated spring training, it was off to Calgary, Alberta, Canada and the Calgary Expos for my very first season of Class A baseball (rookie league). It was a dream that finally came true! Wow!  

On the baseball front things didn’t go so well. My one and only season with the Expos seemed to be a replay of my senior year at Brown. I suffered one injury after another with very little playing time as a result. It was frustrating. However, by the end of that first season with the Expos baseball success just didn’t matter to me anymore. The passion and desire to climb the minor league ladder to reach the major leagues was gone. While I had additional opportunity to continue in the minor league journey, God saw fit to replace my baseball passion with more important spiritual interests and desires. Quite frankly, it was the most important period of my life. A fellow Calgary Expos teammate and Christian befriended me during the season. We spent a lot of time together. He had a Christian joy and countenance that was overflowing and exuded a Christ like character. Van Samples was a young believer who was a bold witness for Christ and someone who walked the talk. I realized that I wanted and needed the joy that he had in his life. Van repeatedly told me of my need for a Savior and gave me the clear gospel message of Christ. He mentioned that I needed to repent, ask forgiveness for my sins, and ask Christ to save me and rule in my life.

Leadership Lesson #9 – The wickedness of my sin was weighing me down. I realized that I was a wretched sinner. I needed to be rescued. The God of this universe reached down and gave me the gift of eternal life which I freely accepted! Praise the Lord! Everyone should be willing to make an immediate decision for Christ when He calls you to himself. Don’t procrastinate.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)

It was the defining moment in my life that I will cherish through eternity. One night after a baseball game while playing in Calgary I put on my jogging clothes and went out for a run. I ended up back at the baseball diamond where we had played just an hour before. There was no one around and all the lights for the field were stilled turned on. I jumped the fence and walked out into centerfield. It was there that I got down on my knees and received Jesus Christ as my Savior. That defining moment of truth was a springboard to the rest of my life. I got married to a wonderful Christian woman, had three terrific children and four grandchildren (so far), and have been married for 32 years. God also allowed me to spend the next 33 years in Corporate America leading sales teams and impacting global strategy at the highest levels. A VP of Sales, Director of Sales and Marketing, and Global Sales Strategist were just a few of the stops along the way (Godly training opportunities) to condition me for His service in the years ahead.  

Leadership Lesson #10 – Serving God with all of our hearts, minds, and souls should be a life-long commitment. We must continue to press toward the mark. We must seek God’s face and run from all evidences of evil.

“And unto man he said, behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)       

God saw fit to allow us to found the Christian Leadership Worldview International ministry (CLWI). It was simply a divine orchestration from above with the experiences of life necessary to be able to make a difference in this world for Christ. There is no other possible way to catalog my life events. This organization is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that impacts others for Christ with a leadership training and development focus and format. The CLWI organization travels the globe putting on leadership training and development seminars from a Bible perspective. The Christian training offered is geared for a marketplace understanding. As Christians how do we respond to the workplace? What is the playing field like? How do we navigate our various encounters and moments of truth? What is our authority to lead in the workplace and where does it come from? As Christians, if we are considered to be both royal priests and kings at the point of conversion, where do our responsibilities begin and end as we live out our faith each day “outside” of the four walls of a church building? How can we bring glory to God in a workplace environment? These questions and more set the stage for the burden of the CLWI ministry.  We hope to bring an explosion of awareness to both believers and non-believers about what the Bible has to say about our responsibilities while at work. It is a responsibility so great that it must be communicated to the world.  

Leadership Lesson #11 – The workplace is a dynamic spiritual environment that must be sought after for the Lord. We must make sure that we have alignment between who we are as believers in the workplace, at home with the family, and with our brothers and sisters at church. We should desire to understand our responsibilities as kings and priests on the earth.

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:10)  

Finally, God has providentially allowed Adoniram Judson’s life story to be a wonderful blessing to the Christian Leadership Worldview International ministry. The CLWI ministry has recently been blessed to have participated in the First Annual Good News 360 Leadership Conference in India. We were able to teach leadership seminars and preach God’s word to over 400 Indian Christians! The executive coordinator of the Good News 360 Leadership Conference is Billy Judson. Yes, his last name is representative of Adoniram Judson who had a tremendous impact in his family’s lineage and history. Generations ago, Billy Judson’s ancestors were saved under Adoniram Judson’s missionary endeavors. Some of his family members even went back to the field in Burma (now Myanmar) as missionaries to teach and preach the gospel message of Christ. His great grandfather on his mother’s side (Koppolu Benjamin) served as a missionary in Burma from 1933 to 1959. His service included pastor, missionary, and President of the Burma Baptist Indian Convention that spanned almost 26 years. On his father’s side, the evidences of his Christian heritage are crystal clear as well. In 1840, the first Telugu person was converted and baptized. His name was Yerraguntla Periah, who was a distance grandfather many generations ago. Yerraguntal is now known as one of the forerunners of a mass movement towards Christianity in South India during this time period. A native of India, Billy Judson also feels compelled to reach his Indian countrymen for Christ. What a joy it was for me representing the CLWI ministry to go to the country of India and contribute much the same way Adoniram did centuries earlier. While Adoniram’s primary burden was for the country of Burma, he was also a great blessing to the people of India as well.  

Please pray that the CLWI ministry can impact others for Christ. Pray that God would open the doors around the world for us to teach and preach Christian leadership principles in the workplace. Praise God for all that He has done and will be doing in the future.  We only desire to hear those wonderful words of praise from God when we meet Him in heaven.      

Leadership Lesson #12 – As we continue to be good stewards and ambassadors for Christ, we do so with an anticipation of those much sought after words ….well done, good and faithful servant. We must finish the race in a fashion that will be pleasing to Him.

“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:23)


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