For orphans in Korea, attending university and completing higher education is a daunting task with the numerous challenges they face soon after graduating high school. At 18 years old, they must leave the government-supported children’s homes and find jobs to be able to support themselves as well as their studies. Full-time work combined with study causes many students to become depressed or overwhelmed, and without a support system of family and friends to encourage them. This comes in addition to social stigmas in the country that look down on those without family.
Here is where Oak Tree Project offers a great support to Korean orphans in their studies as well as the emotional and spiritual aspects of their lives. Sponsored university students receive a housing scholarship, so they don’t need to work during classes and can focus on their studies. This allows them to get higher grades and receive additional scholarships for tuition.
But it’s not just a scholarship they receive; they also get paired with a mentor who commits to call and meet with them regularly, guiding and encouraging them in their lives and in their faith. These mentors are volunteers, and God has answered prayers to provide enough mentors for all of the students who apply for the program. In 2019, the program had 13 new students apply, and 15 returning students, for a total of 28 students participating.
As students finish the program, they comment on how Oak Tree Project has made a difference in their lives. One student mentioned that he would not have graduated near the top of his class or have gotten the job he did without the program. Another student expressed her appreciation for the close attention and one-on-one meetings with her mentor, saying she would like to become a mentor for the program.
The students entering the program recently went through orientation and met their mentors. Please pray for God to work through these relationships, that students will connect well with their mentors, and that mentors will have wisdom and confidence in their mentoring.
Please also pray for the 28 students to commit to healthy churches and grow in their relationship with God, and for their protection from the many cults that are on college campuses. Finally, pray for the 7 graduates to find good jobs, to transition well out of college, and to experience God's continued care as they begin working full time.
To partner with Manna Ministries in supporting the work of Oak Tree Project, please visit the campaign page to donate toward this ministry!
In the town of Constanza, as in the rest of the Dominican Republic, nearly every boy loves playing baseball and dreams of a future on a U.S. professional team. Through one ministry in the remote farming community, 160 boys not only receive physical training and baseball team experience, they also receive spiritual training and dreams with an eternal perspective.
Fred O’Brien, executive director of “Christ the King” baseball ministry, leads the baseball training program and team in Constanza, as an alternative to other baseball training camps in the country. Some of the boys have received opportunities for private high-school scholarships in the U.S., where they can showcase their skills to coaches and recruiters, and a few have been invited to play at one of the MLB camps in the Dominican Republic. However, these are not typical opportunities for the boys, and the Christ the King team is important for the other ways it changes the boys lives.
This past December and January, more than 25 boys from the team were baptized, and more than a dozen others are going through pre-baptism spiritual training and mentorship. Bobby Castillo plays a key role in the spiritual development of the boys on the team. Manna Ministries sponsors Bobby as the full-time team chaplain, and he mentors, prays with, and leads devotions for the boys on the team.
One of the team’s current coaches experienced a dramatic change in his life through his interactions with Bobby, Fred, and the team. His nickname was “Prostitute” when he played baseball with the premier Dominican Republic league: his life was full of women, cars, and drinking. But God had a plan for him. He was released from his baseball program because he had not demonstrated enough talent to be signed to a professional contract. This was after five years of no school and consistent steroid use. At 19 years old, he came back to Constanza with no future prospects. Until he saw the Christ the King team working out at the municipal field. José (“Prostitute”) approached Fred about practicing with the team, and he was able to do so if he followed the team guidelines. He also had to attend morning chapel services and work on his high school degree. Through talking with Bobby and studying his Bible (one of which Manna Ministries has donated to the ministry), José became a believer in Christ, was baptized, and now preaches on the streets and mentors the boys. Others are encouraged by the radical transformation they saw in José’s life.
Fred and Bobby have a bigger vision for the Christ the King team and ministry, but it needs the partnership and support of other members of the Church! Their goal is to purchase the land for, and build, a baseball complex for the ministry. Currently, the team uses the municipal field, but has to spend a good amount of time before every practice picking up glass off the public field from parties the night before. With a ministry field, the boys would have their own place to practice and play, and it would also provide a place to host community events such as movies in the park, family picnics, and a small community church that Bobby will pastor.
God has provided three potential lots for sale for the field! Please join us in prayer and financial support for this project to expand Christ the King baseball ministry in Constanza, Dominican Republic, where God is changing the lives (with an eternal impact!) of young boys and their families. If you'd like to send a gift for this ministry, please visit our DR baseball campaign page.
In Constanza, 80% of the people live in poverty, of which 40% live in extreme poverty. There is an 85% public school drop-out rate. Christ The King Baseball was started in February of 2012. The ministry uses the youths’ love of the game to (1) teach the kids about God, (2) Obligate them to stay in school, (3) teach them English two days per week, (3) provide gym memberships to the kids thirteen and older, and, (4) provide the uniforms, instructional training, leagues, and any equipment they may need.