FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Baseball superstar turned evangelist Darryl Strawberry had a simple message for the 600 people at a men’s breakfast Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville.
“If you fall in love with Jesus, you realize you don’t need anything else,” he said.
Strawberry played most of his 17-year career with New York's Mets and Yankees and knows about the heights of success and the depths of failure. The 1983 National League Rookie of the Year, eight-time All Star, and four-time World Series champion had all the fame and fortune the world could offer and lost everything to drug addiction.
All the money and accolades did nothing to satisfy a hunger deep inside.
“There was no peace and joy in all that,” he said.
The left-handed power hitter turned to drugs, wrecking his career as all America watched.
“You can pick your sins,” he told the men in Fayetteville, “but you can’t pick your consequences.”
It wasn’t until Strawberry hit rock bottom that he turned to Christ and, in Him, found what he had been hungering for.
New Hope Pastor Rhys Stenner had met Strawberry at a men’s conference some 7 years ago and recognized that his story is one everyone needs to hear.
“I was struck by his balance between boldness and humility,” Stenner said.
Strawberry and his wife Tracy now run Strawberry Ministries, an organization singularly focused on pointing lost souls to Christ. He travels the country spreading the gospel of Christ.
Rich Terry, the New Hope missions coordinator who organized the men’s event, said Strawberry is wholly sold out to Jesus.
“From the first time we spoke,” Terry said, “Darryl made it clear within 30 seconds that his only identity is in Christ. That’s all that matters to him.”
That was the central point of Strawberry’s message on Saturday. He emphasized that there is nothing great about himself or anyone else but that everything about Jesus is great.
“A lot of times we’re not willing to sacrifice our lives for God,” he said. “We’re not willing to surrender our lives to Him. And we don’t even know that Christ surrendered His life for us, at the cross.”
Before and after speaking, Strawberry signed autographs for the crowd, greeting everyone who approached him with a big smile and a “How ya doin’, kid?”
Strawberry stayed long after he had finished speaking, making sure everyone in the long line was able to get his signature on their sports cards and baseballs and to get a photo with him.
Strawberry stayed in town to preach at all three of New Hope’s Sunday morning services.
Karl Thompson, a deacon at the church, summed it up: “Darryl Strawberry is about just one thing, and that is Jesus Christ.”
That was reflected in every word Strawberry spoke.
“Everybody ain’t going to the Hall of Fame,” he said, “but everyone can get into the Hall of Faith.”