Will Thompson of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes contacted CRASH with news that American pitcher Bryan Bullington, a Christian, was interested in lending a hand in the relief effort in Hiroshima. Bullington, who is currently a pitcher with the Hiroshima Carp, was the first overall pick of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft and has played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, and Kansas City Royals. Since Bullington is currently in rehabilitation we could not put him to work mucking out homes, but local pastor Hiroshi Horikawa had a better idea, visiting the Bairin Elementary School where students and staff had just begun classes after the school reopened. Thompson reports,
“On Tuesday, September 16th we visited Bairin Elementary School with Bryan Bullington, pitcher for the Hiroshima Carp, along with Rev. Horikawa of Mitaki Green Chapel, and Yusuke Yoshioka and myself from FCA Japan. The school is right in the middle of the area affected by the landslides and you could see the mud on the hills and in the street from the windows of the school. The principal said that right after the disaster over 600 people stayed temporarily in the school gymnasium with dozens still living there now weeks later. Thankfully, there were no lives lost among the students and families of the school despite being right next to the landslides. It was great seeing the joy and smiles on the kids’ faces when they were suprised by a visit to their classroom from a professional baseball player from their beloved Hiroshima Carp. According to the principal, this was the first time that a player from the Carp had ever come to visit the school. The teachers may have been the ones that were most excited with several of them freaking out over the surprise visit by the baseball star, being huge Carp fans themselves. Its amazing to see the influence that athletes have, and the potential to use that influence for the Kingdom and to bring true hope to people, especially out of disaster. We are really thankful for Bryan, for taking his time out to visit with and encourage the kids, and for our brothers and partners at CRASH Japan for providing the opportunity to serve and their tireless commitment to provide relief and the true hope of Jesus in the wake of disasters.”
CRASH has found that sports can be a wonderful way to bring recovery after disaster, helping children’s teams recover equipment and hold skills camps with help from professional players after the tsunami of 2011 and the tornado of 2012. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes has introduced players and partnered in these efforts.