Pastor Strawberry

Remember Darryl Strawberry, the baseball superstar whose life came apart because of alcohol and drugs?  Well, he turned to Christianity, which really did put his life back together, and now he is a pastor, with a special outreach to alcohol and drug addicts.

And for all of you pastors who daydream about a more glamorous career, such as being a professional athlete, Rev. Strawberry says,  “I’ve never been happier in my life. It’s so much fun being a pastor.”  His story after the jump.

From Bob Nightengale, Fallen Mets star Darryl Strawberry finds new life in ministry – The Washington Post.

The two-story, four-bedroom house sits on a corner in this planned bedroom community, and when the muscular 6-foot-6 man welcomes you inside, there is no evidence that Darryl Strawberry the baseball player ever existed.

There are no pictures of Strawberry in a Mets uniform. No trophies. No plaques. None of his four World Series rings. Nothing from his eight all-star games. None of his 335 home run balls.

“I got rid of it all. I was never attached to none of that stuff,” says Strawberry, 51. “I don’t want it. It’s not part of my life anymore.”

Darryl Strawberry the outfielder and slugger from the 1980s and ’90s is no longer. But Darryl Strawberry the ordained minister is very much alive in this town [St. Peters, MO] 30 miles west of St. Louis.

“I’m over ‘Strawberry,’ ” he says. “I’m over Mets. I’m over Yankees. I don’t want to exist as Darryl Strawberry the baseball player. . . .That person is dead.”

Strawberry, in his first media interview since becoming a preacher and opening his own ministry three years ago, will talk for two hours about his drug and alcohol addiction. He’ll tell chilling details about prison life and crack houses. He’ll tear up describing the pain and shame he caused his family, six children and two ex-wives before marrying Tracy, also an ordained minister, six years ago.

He plans to spend the rest of his life talking about a passion that he says is more rewarding than anything he felt on the baseball field.

“I never wanted to exist as Darryl Strawberry the baseball player,” he says. “I wanted to let go of that identity. It’s not who I am.”

This is a man uncomfortable reliving the past.

“I used to be a big shot, let’s put it that way,” Strawberry says. “But I want nothing to do with baseball now. I have no desire to be working in baseball. No desire at all.”

He continues: “I love the game, don’t get me wrong, but I love the Bible more. I want to help people save their lives, and have the responsibility of leading people into following Christ. It’s so hard to describe what that feels like, but I’ve never been happier in my life. It’s so much fun being a pastor.” . . .

They [he and his wife Tracy] turned their lives over to Jesus, attending the Church on the Rock in St. Peters and becoming actively involved in worship. Tracy worked in real estate; Strawberry worked as a part-time Mets’ instructor and TV commentator. They slowly eased out of debt, were married in 2006, at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, and moved into their own apartment in St. Peters.

Today, they have their ministry: strawberryministries.org, where the Web site leads with, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” from Romans 12:2.

They opened the Darryl and Tracy Strawberry Christian Recovery Program in Longview, Tex., and hope to launch two others soon, in Orlando and St. Louis. They also have a Coffee House prayer meeting every Friday night at the Darryl Strawberry Adult Day Program for Autism building.

“They have meant everything to this community, particularly me,” says Marcia Funderburk, 58, who says two of her adult children are heroin addicts. “You want to just throw in the towel and give up. It’s been such a nightmare. You’re so beaten down.

“But they have given me such inspiration. It’s awesome to see a guy that went so high, and crashed so low, and now he’s pouring his heart and soul back into people.”

It’s their horrifying life experiences, the Strawberrys say, that enable them to relate. They have had the highest of highs. They’ve seen the lowest of lows. They believe they can reach the troubled souls and, if nothing else, instill hope.

“Here I am, a baseball superstar, falling into the pits, having everybody write you off and then having God say, ‘I’m going to use your mess for a message.’ How beautiful is that?”

 

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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