Love what you do. Make a lot of money. Retire and enjoy it.
That’s pretty much the American dream.
At one point, that was Washington Nationals pitcher, JJ Hoover’s dream too. He wrote in an Article for the Increase entitled “In a New Light;” “While I was growing up, my intent was to play baseball, make a lot of money, and sit at home in my hometown of Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.”
A lot has changed. Hoover grew up in a Christian home and began attending baseball chapel pretty early in his baseball career. At the same time, he didn’t take it all that seriously and hadn’t really given his all to Christ. That all changed in 2012. He began to see the light of Christ in some of his teammates, including Chris Heisey. Hoover tells the Increase that, “at that point, something clicked – the lightbulb went on and I was sold out for Christ.”
Since then, Hoover’s life has changed. While by nature not outspoken, he’s become intentional about speaking about his faith. Instead of focusing on making money, he invests in people; supporting ministries that care for the needs of others. Instead of sitting at home, he’s left the comforts of this country to travel the world to help those in need, recently flying with his wife, Megan-Kate, to Ethiopia with a group called “Crisis Aid.”
One of the Bible Verses that touched Hoover’s heart is Matthew 20:27-28; “Whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Hoover recalls, concerning his trip to Ethiopia; Seeing a country so different from my own and people living a life so far from the “American Dream” was really eye-opening for me. It seems like in America we work hard to earn as much money as we can so we can buy as much as we can. But the people that we met in Ethiopia were simply trying to utilize as much as they could in order to survive. Most people lived in tin huts that were the size of a normal American bathroom. If you traveled further outside the city those huts were made out of mud, and even further out the huts were formed by grass. Most people live with no running water or electricity. We weren’t even able to travel further out into the tribal areas and see what life is like there, because the whole country is in a state of emergency. One of the things that stirred our hearts the most during this trip was talking to the women who had been rescued from prostitution. We were able to pray over those who were brave enough to share their stories with us. Another humbling moment was walking into the orphanage and meeting so many girls who were without parents. It physically hurt when we weren’t able to take them home. Megan-Kate and I are continuing to try to adopt one or two of these girls we met but with the country currently closed off, we’re not even sure it’s possible.”
Hoover learned another important life lesson; We all have to take God’s command to spread the Gospel to the world seriously, whether that’s to our neighbors, teammates, friends, or family. I will never see the world in the same way again and I wouldn’t want to. I recognize that God desires for me to die to myself a little bit more each day; I want to be open to the Holy Spirit’s call on my life, wherever or whatever that may be.
Our goal as Christians ought to be to live for others and not for ourselves. Jesus lived for us, giving up His comfort and even His very life, dying on the cross to pay for our sins. His sacrifice alone pays for our sin and wins for us eternal life. What better way is there to thanks to Him than to give up what we have to serve others?