Baseball Has Been and Continues To Be a Tool to Proclaim the Gospel
Former big-league baseball player Alvin Davis – who used Awana to help train his three kids spiritually – often hit the ball out of the park. Now he’s scoring runs for Kingdom wins.

Alvin Davis has hit his share of home runs over the years. As first baseman for the Seattle Mariners from 1984 to 1991, Alvin racked up 160 home runs and batted .280 in 1,206 games. He homered in his first two big-league games and once belted a grand slam with both Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. on base. Alvin Davis played eight seasons and made the All-Star team with the Seattle Mariners

Alvin was named 1984 American League Rookie of the Year and was also selected that year for the All-Star Game. He was the first inductee into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame in 1997.

But these days, Alvin is more interested in hitting spiritual home runs and using the platform God gave him to point others to the Savior.

“Making it to the big leagues was God’s plan for my life,” Alvin said. “Baseball has put me in a position to display and proclaim the gospel. I have numerous opportunities in and out of church to be an evangelist.

“Who I was or am as an athlete is not the most important thing about me. It is not my identity. I see many professional athletes who remain tethered to who they were as a professional athlete and don’t move forward. At the end of the day, it’s about whether or not I’m in Christ. That’s the foundation of my life.”

A strong home base

Growing up in Riverside, California, Alvin attended Park Avenue Baptist Church with his family. His mom and dad taught Sunday school and his mom sang in the choir. Alvin’s grandma was a founding member of Park Avenue.

Through his solid spiritual heritage and the ministry of his church, Alvin trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior at the age of 12.

“The ripple effect of that decision affects every day of my life and I’m so thankful,” Alvin said.

The gift of lifelong friends

One of Alvin’s closest childhood friends, Paul “Kumi” Kumamoto, came to faith in Christ as a teenager through a youth group at Riverside Bible Church led by Larry Fowler, now executive director of global training at Awana. Alvin attended Kumi’s youth group a few times.

“Kumi was the first one saved in my ministry as a youth pastor and the first one saved in his family,” Larry said. “His life was dramatically transformed as a teenager when he responded to the gospel. I’ve had the privilege for three decades of watching him become an incredibly effective leader and discipler of teens himself.” 

Kumi serves as a youth pastor at Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church in Riverside and is also a high school teacher and baseball coach.

“Larry discipled Kumi and had a tremendous impact on his life,” Alvin said. “Kumi learned from Larry’s example and now pours his life into young people. He amazes me.”

Awana provided discipleship tools for the Davis family

Alvin and his wife, Kim, were committed to Awana when their kids were growing up. Their three children -- Jordan, now 23, Justin, 20, and Kayla, 18 -- started attending AAlvin Davis enrolled his three children in Awana from preschool through high schoolwana as Cubbies (preschool) and went all the way through Journey (high school). All three Davis kids earned a Timothy Award for Bible memorization and Kayla is close to earning her Citation Award, the highest achievement in Awana.

“I appreciate the primary mission of Awana to help kids know the Word of God,” Alvin said. “My wife integrated Awana into the homeschool program she used in teaching our kids.

“It was never a question if my kids knew the Word of God. Awana is responsible for that.”

Alvin knows the importance of building a firm spiritual foundation in his kids’ lives. It’s what helped bring him back home.

‘I’m thankful He takes us all back’

After high school, Alvin attended Arizona State University. His faith was tested as challenges came his way, making it a struggle to stay on God’s path.

“I had one foot in the world and one foot in church,” Alvin described. “I dabbled in the world and it was enjoyable for the moment, but I was racked with guilt and experienced such emptiness. I was in turmoil. Like Romans 7 says, I was a tortured man.”

In Alvin’s junior year, his baseball team won the College World Series and he was selected to the All College World Series team. Outwardly, Alvin was performing well, but on the inside he was stressed and under immense self-imposed pressure.

“I had no peace and the joy wasn’t there,” Alvin explained. “Everything was all dependent on me because I had not let God take control of my life. I knew my problem was spiritual. I was a prodigal who needed to go home to the Father.”

‘I was calling the shots’

In the summer before Alvin’s senior year in 1981, Alvin was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the sixth round. He was disappointed because he wanted to be in the top 10. He turned down the offer and returned to Riverside to reflect.

“At home, I began to realize that my relationship with Him was out of whack,” Alvin said. “Jesus Christ was not on the throne. I was trying to assume that role.

“This summer was a real turning point and a time of true surrender where I told the Lord, ‘Do what You want with me.’ I made some commitments to the Lord. I told Him that the biggest desire I had was to play in the major leagues and if He would give me that, I would serve Him the rest of my life. If not, I would still serve Him the rest of my life.”

After such a life-changing summer, Alvin decided to return for his senior year at ASU.

“My main goal in returning for my senior year was to live one year of college with the Lord in control of my life,” Alvin said. “It’s the main reason I went back.”

As it turned out, Alvin was once again drafted in the sixth round after his senior year and signed with the Seattle Mariners. The offer was for less money than the previous summer’s offer, but it didn’t matter.

“I was on the path that leads to life, not destruction,” Alvin said.

Life as a professional athlete

Alvin began his professional baseball career by flying to Boston to play with the Mariners’ Class AA club. Alvin had heard stories about the lifestyles of baseball players and was concerned about veering from the path again. He prayed a lot.

“A team rep picked me up from the airport and drove me the ballpark,” Alvin recalled. “The first person I met was the team chaplain. I know it was not a coincidence.”

Alvin didn’t walk the path perfectly but appreciated ministries like Baseball Chapel that encouraged him in his faith and helped him resist a variety of temptations presented to him, like pride, wealth, immorality, fame and filthy language. 

Alvin and his wife, Kim, now serve on the board of directors for Pro Athletes Outreach, a ministry dedicated to equipping an army of athletes to win the world to Christ through sports.

Dedicated to kingdom wins

Alvin now uses his time to make the biggest kingdom impact possible. He is in his 13th year as a volunteer staff member at Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church in Riverside and oversees the finance ministry and accounting team. He is the church treasurer, an elder and part of the prayer ministry.

“I appreciate Alvin’s biblical example to me and so many others,” said Stephen McCullough, the former Awana commander at Cornerstone who is now serving with his wife as a missions filmmaker in Georgia. “Alvin is a down-to-earth person and always ready to talk to anyone.”

Alvin also uses his baseball experience to help coach a high school baseball team in his town. Ken Scott, another Christian friend from high school, is the head baseball coach at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside and recruited Kumi and Alvin to assist him. Known as the three amigos in high school, they now work together to minister to kids and talk with players about character, ethics, integrity and personal conduct.

“It was a dream of ours to also start an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) club on campus and we now help run that, too,” Alvin said. 

One thing’s for sure: hitting the ball out of the park, whether physically or spiritually, will always be a part of Alvin’s life story.

“Memories from baseball fade, but the gospel is just as alive in me today as the first day I heard it,” Alvin concluded. “For me, baseball has been and continues to be a tool to proclaim the gospel.”

It’s Amazing
What God
Has Done

Otto Melby was a carefree 13-year-old from a loving Christian family in Chicago when an unexpected event rocked his world.

When his father passed away in 1949, Otto struggled profoundly with the loss. His mother became deeply concerned as she watched her son grow increasingly confused and angry with God and those around him. It was clear to her that he needed a male mentor to fill the void left by his dad’s death.

Read More

Using Her Gifts to Serve Others in Full-Time Ministry and Awana

A few months ago, Mandy Hornbuckle’s box of Awana memories tumbled out the back of a truck going 60 miles per hour down a Texas highway. The box contained old Awana uniforms, pins and her Citation Award, the highest achievement in Awana.Mandy Hornbuckle earned the Citation Award for learning Scripture verses and truths

As the box hit the pavement, the contents scattered all along the road.

Read More

Celebrating 50-Plus Years of Faithful Awana Service

Gwendetta Albright’s 50-plus years of faithful Awana service at a church in Chicago has changed lives in hundreds of families

Gwendetta Albright grew up on the west side of Chicago. She trusted Christ for salvation at a summer camp at age 13. She then started serving as an Awana leader two years later in 1958.

Read More

First Family Church: Using Awana to Reach Kids and Parents for Christ

A few years ago, Roger Stuart’s life changed dramatically. He trusted Christ for salvation through the ministry of First Family Church in Overland Park, Kansas.The Sparks children's ministry club at First Family Church in Overland Park, Kansas

“I came to First Family Church in hopes of finding a great children's ministry for my daughter,” Roger said. “I was more concerned with her spiritual growth than my own. But listening to my pastor preach, I felt like he wasn't talking to a congregation of 2,000; he was talking to me and my own personal struggles.

Read More

Hope Amidst Hardship

For 12 years, Carlton Carty knew only intense poverty and suffering. Now, thanks to an Awana program in central Jamaica, he knows Jesus as Savior.

The first time they met, Carlton Carty made an immediate impression on Brad Rostad—but not exactly a good one.

Read More

An Oasis
of Hope

The Awana program at the only evangelical church in Gaza is extending God’s love, truth and grace to kids and families in this volatile region.

Thursday and Friday afternoons, a haggard bus drives a circuit through garbage-strewn neighborhoods in one of the world’s most volatile and densely inhabited areas of the world, where half of the population is under age 15.

Read More

31 Years of Service Brings Generations to Lasting Faith in Christ

If you’re ever looking for someone from the Wallace family, there’s a good chance you’ll find them at Harvest Bible Chapel in Lake Zurich, Illinois on Monday nights.

Every Monday starting at 5:30 p.m., four generations of Wallace family members serve in Awana. Bob, age 85, and Lucille, 82, along with their daughter Diane and granddaughter Jill, are faithful leaders in the Sparks (kindergarten through second grade) and T&T (third to sixth grade) clubs. A great-grandson, Brayden, is only 1 and stays in the nursery but is certain to someday be in Puggles (for 2- and 3-year-olds).

Read More

The Model Awana Leader

Jim Barker was facing a dim future when his aunt brought him out of the backwoods of Tennessee to live in Chicago during the Great Depression.

Jim resided in one of the poorest sections of the city. He was painfully shy. He had a meager educational background. He wasn't good at sports. His Southern accent made him a target for insults. He didn't own a car and rarely had money in his pocket.

Read More

Baseball Continues To Be a Tool to Proclaim the Gospel

Alvin Davis has hit his share of home runs over the years. As first baseman for the Seattle Mariners from 1984 to 1991, Alvin racked up 160 home runs and batted .280 in 1,206 games. He homered in his first two big-league games and once belted a grand slam with both Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. on base. Alvin Davis played eight seasons and made the All-Star team with the Seattle Mariners

Alvin was named 1984 American League Rookie of the Year and was also selected that year for the All-Star Game. He was the first inductee into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame in 1997.

Read More

to Awana and Helping Their Own Kids Develop Lasting Faith

You may know what it’s like to get one or two kids ready for Awana and to church on time. But can you imagine getting six kids organized and out the door?

The Pilgrim family lives in Huntsville, Alabama, and all six children participate in Awana at Whitesburg Baptist Church every Sunday night:

Read More

Building a Worldwide Kids’ Ministry From the Ground up

Art Rorheim is co-founder of Awana. Art built Awana from the ground up from its early days as a weekly club program at the North Side Gospel Center in Chicago.

Art was introduced to youth and children’s ministry in 1935 at age 17 when Lance Latham, his church’s pastor, asked him to serve as a club leader at the North Side Gospel Center.

Read More

Leading Awana to Influence Generations of Kids to Follow Christ

Since 1999, Jack Eggar has served as President/CEO of Awana. He has provided strategic leadership for the ministry’s efforts to equip churches and parents in raising children and youth to know, love and serve Christ. Under his guidance, Awana has expanded its impact from a total of 9,000 churches around the world in 1998 to over 22,000 as of 2011.

Knowing that parents are the key influencers in their children’s spiritual development, Jack invested vision and passion to give direction for the recent launch of the Modern-Day Joseph and Awana at Home initiatives.

Read More