“What you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.” Those were the words of Jesus as recorded in the gospels to followers who were puzzled about when they assisted him in times of need.
Josh Lindblom and his wife, Aurielle, a former Seymour resident who attended kindergarten at Columbus’ Richards Elementary School, live this verse in their lives.
Lindblom is a pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first full season with the Major League club. And he is a good one. His role is long relief. He comes out of the bullpen for the league-leading Dodgers when the starting pitcher gets in trouble early in the game.
“He’s smart, he throws strikes, he doesn’t walk a bunch of people,” Dodger manager Don Mattingly has said of him. “He’s a bridge to get us to the back end (a baseball term for pitchers who normally come in late in the game).”
Lindblom seems to have a bright future. At a time when most rookie pitchers would be concerned about staying in the majors, or how they would spend their newfound wealth, Josh and Aurielle are giving back in a big way. They have formed the Josh Lindblom Foundation, an outlet for helping others. Most athletes don’t do that until their own financial security is intact. But the Lindbloms are not like that.
Last November, I had the chance to sit down with them in the home of Aurielle’s parents. Josh and Aurielle have grown up in the West Lafayette area, and still call Indiana home.
Josh and Aurielle recently had taken the Gospel to the streets. In downtown Los Angeles is a building called the Dream Center. It is located on the metro city’s version of skid row, and according to the center’s website, it is designed to “reconnect people who have been isolated by poverty, substance abuse, gangs, imprisonment, homelessness, abuse, and neglect to God, and to a community of support to meet their physical and spiritual needs.”
From the roof of the Dream Center, you can see the lights of Dodger Stadium off in the distance. On a recent June morning, according to one account, Josh was spotted unloading a crate of oranges from the van that had Dream Center written on the side. Aurielle was volunteering in the kitchen helping with a meal.
As Josh and writer Tim Brown walked up East Fifth Street, they observed the other side of life as they invited the street people to the Dream Center for a hot breakfast.
At the center, some knew about Josh. Through the foundation, he recently had hosted more than 500 from the Dream Center at a Dodgers’ game in which he had pitched a scoreless inning. But most were probably unaware of his celebrity status, and were more concerned that someone had provided a hot meal.
Pastor Matthew Barnett runs the Dream Center and says that Josh and Aurielle have an “obsession of serving.” It already is being felt in the Dodger clubhouse.
A yahoo.com story mentions third base coach Trey Hillman listening intently to a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk at the center. It was only a few years ago that Hillman, a fellow Christian, was the manager of the Kansas City Royals. The passion of the Lindbloms is felt wherever they go.
I saw that personally in our time together in the Siple home. There were stories of baseball experiences and the aura of playing for the Dodgers.
But they all were quick to tell of the exciting things being done through the foundation.
One might say Jesus was served at Sixth and Crocker, the address of the Dream Center, on that June morning. And just when was Jesus fed, or given a drink to quench his thirst, or clothed, or invited in, you might wonder?
“What you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.”
Tom Rust of Columbus is founder of the national Face to Face sports ministry, pastor of Sardinia Baptist Church and a local high school sports broadcaster. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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