How A Career Ending Injury Led a Famous Baseball Player & Atheist, Frank Pastore, To God.

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A former atheist (1), Frank Pastore was an American Major League baseball player and radio host. After baseball he attended the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, graduating summa cum laude with a MA in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics in 1994. In 2003 Pastore completed his second master’s degree in Political Philosophy and American Government. Sadly, Pastore died in 2012 after his bike collided with a car on the 210 Freeway near Los Angeles (2).

Pastore grew up in an atheistic household, “My mom made fun of religious people… I made fun of this kind of thing throughout my life. I thought people who were religious were just stupid, that they needed to go to school… I grew up just thinking that religious people were some kind of defect” (3). Pastore would nonetheless chase after his childhood dreams and go on to become a talented baseball player, and also made it his life goal to become rich and famous through the sport, “Baseball was my god. I was pouring all of who I was into this, it was my whole identity… I was all ready to get rich and famous” (4).

But things changed after he had a career ending injury while playing for the Cincinnati Reds on June 4th 1984, “I was cruising to a 3-1 victory with two outs in the eighth inning, when I made the pitch that eternally changed my life. Dodger Steve Sax rocked a 2-2 fastball off my right elbow and my whole world-view shattered in one painful instant. Immediately, I knew my arm would never be the same again, and my career, as I had known it, had come to a tragic end” (5).

Yet in the face of this huge disappointment Pastore began to entertain the possibility that God might actually exist, “As unlikely as it may seem, it was in the midst of all this that I was introduced to the concept that God was real. As I walked into the training room, my small but faithful group of friends – the Christians – asked me whether I would mind if they prayed for me. ‘Of course you can pray!’ I said. ‘You can do anything you want if you think it’ll help’” (6).

In an interview some time after his injury Pastore reflected on the way he thought about life and belief in God when he was an atheist, “There is no God. Life is a pain and then you die… quit believing in this 15th century religious superstition.” But Pastore conceded that “what was really motivating it was anger. How could there be a loving God who allowed this [injury] to happen?” (7). He would try to justify his non-belief through many arguments that he had heard from other atheists and critics, “I knew all about the Bible. It contradicts itself, the manuscripts have been corrupted, blah, blah, blah… but of course I had never actually read the Bible.

But then Pastore was encouraged by a group of Christians to engage some arguments that leading thinkers had presented in favour of Christianity, and this is where C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell, former atheists themselves, had much influence on Pastore’s decision to embrace Christianity, “I lived as an atheist and as an evolutionist. And based on all of my questions and reading Mere Christianity and Evidence That Demands a Verdict…” (8). The arguments and evidence presented by Lewis and McDowell seemed convincing especially the one from Jesus’ resurrection as the ultimate proof of not only God’s existence but that God had also triumphantly intervened in his creation, “The reality that a personal God had spoken the universe into existence out of nothing; that His Son, Jesus Christ, had died on the cross for my sins and the sins of the world; that He validated His testimony by rising from the dead before hundreds of witnesses; and that Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life, and that the only way to heaven was through Him – hit me like the blazing sun would smite the eyes of someone who had spent a week in a dark cave” (9). Pastore subsequently made the decision to convert and identify himself as a Christian.

Of all people it was Pastore who was most surprised by his conversion, and it is in that truth that he provides for us a heartfelt gesture, “There is no way that if you had told me at that moment when that injury happened, “You are going to become a Christian.” No way! “You are going to go to seminary.” No way!… So I want people watching to understand that whatever shattering has happened whether it’s health issues, financial, relationship, physical ailment, whatever, one of the reasons God has not answered the prayers in your life yet is that he has something better planned. The second thing is, is that he’s taking those broken pieces and forming a godly character in you, and perhaps the only way he can achieve that is through this process. And so often you can only see God working in your life in the rearview mirror. We’re not into something that is silly and stupid. We’re into something that changes our life, it’s real” (10).

Pastore penned his story in much greater detail in his book Shattered: Struck Down But Not Destroyed.

References.

1. YouTube. 2011. Frank Pastore on Praise the Lord (1 of 2). Available.

2. Bond, P. 2012. Eerie: Christian Radio Personality Frank Pastore Dies After Motorcycle Accident He Predicted. Available.

3. YouTube. 2011. Frank Pastore on Praise the Lord (2 of 2). Available.

4. YouTube. 2011. Frank Pastore on Praise the Lord (1 of 2).

5. Pastore, P. A Big-League Skeptic Finds Faith At The Cross. Available.

6. YouTube. 2011. Frank Pastore on Praise the Lord (1 of 2).

7. YouTube. 2011. Frank Pastore on Praise the Lord (2 of 2).

8. YouTube. 2011. Frank Pastore on Praise the Lord (2 of 2).

9. Pastore, P. A Big-League Skeptic Finds Faith At The Cross.

10. YouTube. 2011. Frank Pastore on Praise the Lord (2 of 2).

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