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R.A. Dickey, the Holy Spirit, and a Brothel in Mumbai: A Christian Perspective on Pentecost

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About the Author

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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This past week, R.A. Dickey, pitcher for the Blue Jays, was presented with an honorary doctorate from Wycliffe College, the Toronto School of Theology at the University of Toronto. He certainly didn’t receive this honour for playing baseball, or even for his renowned knuckleball. In fact it really wasn’t given for anything that he did. Rather it was a recognition of the Holy Spirit working in his life. Dickey said himself that he hasn’t become who he is on his own.

“I stand before you not in any way a self-made man. I have been a product of a lot of people who have loved me and poured into me in a way that has transformed my life.”

But even that love couldn’t sustain him is a time of despair.

“I got to a place where I was in my life about six years ago where I was at the end of myself.”

Pentecost: Fifty Days after the Resurrection

The disciples got to that place when they were hiding out in the Upper Room. They had come to the end of themselves without Christ. From the book of Acts,, chapter 2, verses 1-3:

“I stand before you not in any way a self-made man. I have been a product of a lot of people who have loved me and poured into me in a way that has transformed my life.”
– R.A. Dickey

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.”

The Spirit: Still Small Voice

Each of us has our own moment of coming to the end of ourselves, our resources, our strength, courage, endurance. We don’t always have an experience of such drama as violent wind and fire. Dickey’s words again:

“I became a Christian when I was 13, but I didn’t have the follow-through that I needed —… I found myself in the fall of 2006 at the steering wheel of a car with all the windows rolled up and a garden hose attached from the muffler to the passenger-side window in the hopes of ending it all. Why? Because I had… come to a place in my life where I had realized that I had made a lot of mistakes, and… I had been the victim of some things that are tough to wrap your arms around, a Christian or not. So I was in that place and I was about to turn the key and I really felt the Holy Spirit saying, ‘R.A., I’m not done with you yet. Don’t do that.’… literally those words: ‘Do not do that.’ And so as lonely as I felt in that moment at the steering wheel of a Chevrolet Cavalier, I never felt truly alone.”

The disciples experienced violent wind and tongues of fire. For Dickey it was a quiet voice of reassurance and a call to continue to live out his purpose.

What Pentecost Produces

And the result? A new understanding by people of many nations:

“Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?’”

And the result for Dickey?

“I share that with you and I’m vulnerable with you in this moment because I really believe that God has called me to be here for a reason. I do believe in divine appointments, I believe this is one of them… From then on, as I walked out of that car, I had the encouragement of my pastor at home to seek help from Christian counsel, and some of you may end up in that place. And it was there that my life was changed forever more…”

And what did Dickey do as a result? Full of the Spirit, Dickey raised $100,000 by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and went with his daughters to Mumbai, India, to a red light district where Christians were trying to bring change and hope. With that money, they were able to transform a brothel into a medical clinic. He continues to help transform the lives of children with education.

Our Pentecost

Dickey has a challenge for us:

“As I continue to walk forward in this life, whether it’s in the dugout at the Rogers Centre or it’s here with you, God has given me a responsibility of trying to invest in every moment, in conversation, in relationship…, and to try to devote myself to the discipline of sucking the marrow out of every second that I can. I think that is what God helps us to do…. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength; and the second commandment is this: to love (your) neighbour as (your)self.’”



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