The hot, humid summer evening envelops the Oldham County Parks and Recreation Field. The field is ready, and the teams have warmed up when the umpire says “Play ball!” Over the fence in left centerfield you see another fence in the distance – a fence with barbed wire on top and a guard tower and you realize this is not a normal game. This game matches a team of inmates from the Roederer Correctional Complex (RCC) with a team called Prodigal Sons. Some of the Prodigal Sons had once played for the other team, and the closeness is not lost on them. They want to win this game versus their former team.
This year marks the inaugural season for the Prodigal Sons team. Team members include Prodigal Ministries clients from the Wright House and the Oak Street East House. Other team members are from New Century Plumbing of LaGrange, which sponsors the team this season. Gloves and bats are provided to team members by Wilson (formerly Louisville Slugger). Reflex Graphics, owned and operated by one of the Tuesday night Bible study volunteers at the Oak Street house, provided the hats and shirts. These generous sponsors allow for the Prodigal residents to interact in a positive environment with community members – participating in a team setting lets them enjoy the camaraderie that goes along with a sports team.
Though not successful on the scoreboard for Prodigal Sons this evening, this is a game with much more meaning than the outcome on the field. Some of the Roederer team members are participating in The Bridge program, which is a typical experience many Prodigal residents have prior to their release from prison. One of the players from the RCC team will soon be released and become a resident at Prodigal, and his skills on the field would be a welcome addition to the Prodigal Sons team. All of the players from both teams join hands in the infield following the game for a prayer. There really are no losers in this game, as everyone comes together as the body of Christ – free and incarcerated, white and black, young and not so young, it makes no difference. The sun shines brightly on both teams and for that hour the game lasts they are all free to enjoy the game.
Following the game, some of the Prodigal Ministries board members in attendance meet with the team and provide some well-earned Gatorade. As they talk, the other team loads onto their bus for the short journey to the fence beyond left field, to their current home at RCC. With God’s guidance, hopefully these men will become players for Prodigal Sons in the near future.