Don Heinkel played professional baseball from 1982 to 1993 with the Detroit Tigers, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cleveland Indians and the San Diego Padres. He also played ball in I Italy, Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Don is pursuing a career as a family physician. He and his wife Angela have six children: Jonathan, Benjamin, Sophia, Daniel, Abraham and Timothy. They make their home in Birmingham, Ala.

 

 

 

Don Heinkel

If there's one year that holds a special place in my heart, it has to be 1982. That's the year I was drafted by the Detroit Tigers after four years at Wichita State University. While I was there, God blessed my efforts, and I received All-American, All-Conference and Academic All-American honors and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Biology/Pre-Med.

But more importantly, a significant void in my life was filled that year. I found the answer to lasting peace and contentment, and it's not money, power, fame or personal pleasure. Let me please share with you how I came to know the One who specializes in changing lives.

I came from a close-knit athletic family. I got good grades in school and even went to church every Sunday, but on the inside I began to feel very depressed.

At Horlick High School in Racine, Wis., I lettered in three sports: baseball, football and basketball. As a junior, I went to a Bible study led by our tennis coach. He talked about knowing God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Although I had heard about God at church, I never really knew Him. But that night I took a step of faith and asked Him into my life.

In college I became more involved in church and Bible study, but I can remember being haunted by the thought that baseball was still more important to me than God. So, in 1982, after a home Bible study, I decided to totally commit my life to Jesus Christ and put Him first. He filled me with His Spirit, and I was baptized in water in Jesus' holy Name. I can honestly say it was the best decision I've ever made.

Once I asked Jesus to take control of my life, He turned my quiet desperation into calm assurance. God's Word, the Bible, tells us that Jesus loves us unconditionally and that we will spend eternity in heaven if we trust Him. I can't even begin to imagine how great heaven will be, but I know it will be far greater than the temporary happiness and false security that come with baseball fame and material wealth.

After six years in the minors, God resurrected my career on Easter morning 1988 as Detroit called me up to the big leagues from minor league camp. Pitching in my first major league game in historic Fenway Park with my parents watching was as big thrill as was throwing a perfect game in Mexico in 1992. But as great as those moments were, they can't compare to that night in 1982 or the night in 1986 when Angela Kelley became my wife. We now have six beautiful children, and although we sometimes have struggles, God's strength is always enough to see us through.

Now I'd like to ask you some questions. Does your life have meaning and purpose? Are you experiencing real joy, peace and contentment? Do you know for sure that you'll spend eternity in heaven when you die?

If not, I pray that you will ask Jesus Christ into your heart today. It's the most important decision you will ever make. Jesus wants to fill you with His love and peace and give you the free gift of eternal life in heaven. How do you begin a relationship with Him?

Know that God loves you, and He created you to know Him personally through Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

With the existing faith you have, ask Jesus to come into your life. Confess your sins - the things you have done that do not please God, and ask Him to forgive you. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

Trust Jesus as your Savior. "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

Once you've asked Jesus to come into your life, it's important that you begin to grow in your relationship with Him. Spend time reading the Bible and praying, and get involved in a Bible-teaching church. "And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again." (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Let me close by telling you that my greatest desire in life is to please God in everything I do and place Him and my family at the top of my priority list. It's also my desire to share God's love with people just like you. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27)

If you would like to know more about Jesus and what He can do for you, just click the button on the left side of your screen to change your life.