This is one of the villages in Botswana Pastor Doug Hammett of Lehigh Valley Baptist Church in Emmaus, Pa., plans to visit during an upcoming mission trip to the African country.
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
In the 1960s, Roland Hammett played baseball for a farm team and later a semi-pro team in Wichita.
Following several years there, he was invited to pitch for the Liberal Bee Jays in November 1965.
“He played in ’66 and started the ’67 season with them,” said Hammett’s son, Doug. “We moved there in November of ’65. He’d played for a number of teams. He moved to Liberal to play for them, and he worked for Anadarko at that time.”
Doug said in his playing time, Roland was a winning pitcher who took home many trophies throughout his career.
“He was excited about moving to Liberal to have a more family atmosphere for all of us,” Doug said.
Roland died in an oil field accident on June 21, 1967, a day in which he was scheduled to pitch for the Bee Jays. Doug said team members wore armbands to honor his late father the rest of that season.
Since that time, Doug, who serves as a pastor at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church in Emmaus, Pa., has followed the Liberal baseball team, and after the Bee Jays national championship run this season, he received a special gift from a local pastor – Bill Prater of Fellowship Baptist Church.
Doug said he has known Prater for close to 20 years, and the two met through former Fellowship Baptist pastor Larry Landes. Doug spoke at the Liberal church a week prior to the championship games in August at which time he found out the Bee Jays were playing in the NBC World Series in Wichita.
“When I got back, I tuned in to some of the games and was able to listen to a couple of them,” he said. “Missed the championship game that Friday night when they won.”
But thanks to Prater, Doug now has a memory of that championship. Prater presented Doug with a championship Bee Jays T-shirt, and Doug said the gift from the Liberal pastor was a real treat.
“I put it on and put it on my blog,” he said.
The address for that blog is at www.purposedcoachingblog.com, and Doug plans to take the T-shirt with him on a mission trip to Africa.
“I’m going to take it to the village over there,” he said. “They play soccer. That’s their main sport. They call it futbol. I’ve got to readjust my thinking on that.”
Doug plans to teach locals in the country of Botswana about America’s pastime.
“I’m going to take the shirt over and try to expain to them what baseball is,” he said. “I thought that’d be a lot of fun. I don’t know that they’ve ever really seen baseball there, but we’ll find out back in the villages, especially.”
Doug said he and his family are planning to leave for Botswana in October to work with Africans, train them in ministry, start churches and preach the gospel. He said he became interested in the opportunity after Prater invited him to speak at Fellowship Baptist.
“I presented my work, and they’re helping out with our ministry, as well,” he said.
Doug said the mission team will be working in some rural areas of Botswana that are in the process of being developed.
“It’s not very far along, yet,” he said. “Our intention is to be there to preach the gospel. As we reach people with the gospel of Christ, we’ll be able to form some churches and train some men to be able to pastor those churches and move on to other villages.”
Doug said mission team members had visited the African country prior to the upcoming visit to prepare for the trip.
“It’s rustic living where we’re going to be,” he said. “I tell people it’s more like back in the ’50s here in the states in the developed city, but when you get back into the rural villages, many of them don’t even have running water or electricity to them.”
Doug said in those places, in addition to utilities and buildings, diets are also underdeveloped, but he believes his team has a good idea of what to expect.
“We’ll be living in the city and driving out to the villages and, from time to time, camping out in the villages and towns,” he said.
Doug said there are many cultural differences between Botswana and America. He said those distinctions begin with the fact that natives of the African drive on the opposite side of the road.
“Then you get to your restaurants which are few and far between,” he said. “The food there, most of it’s not anything like we’re used to. Their staple diet is feed like we feed the cattle in Kansas. The way they do everything is different. They’re a very gracious people, very kind, very helpful. In that regard, it’s different from America, also.”
Greetings in Botswana are also different from America, according to Doug, who said the people in Africa have warm welcomes, something he said only comes in America when people know each other well.
“They’re very warm even if they don’t know you,” he said. “You’re expected to spend time with the people as opposed to quickly greet and run off. Even if you interrupt them, they’ll stop and sit and talk with you for a while and drop whatever they were getting ready to do. It’s not something I’m used to having happening in America, that’s for sure.”
Doug said mission work in Botswana will continue for some time. He estimated he has been involved in mission work for 25 to 30 years.
“We’ve done this in other places, but this is the first time I’ve ever moved to a country to permanently locate there, which we’re doing in this case,” he said.
The mission work Doug has done has included stops in eastern Europe in the former Yugoslavia, Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Austria as well as work in Latin America, including Panama.
“I’ve been to Mexico and down into Chile,” he said. “Those are probably most of the areas in the little more than 20 countries we’ve worked in.”