Life can be a roller coaster, at times, in the baseball world. Adam Warren, relief pitcher for the New York Yankees, was traded December, 2015, to the Chicago Cubs. Then recently, here in July ,2016, Warren was traded back to the Yankees, and that does not even count the number of times going up and down from major league to the minor league and back. However, Adam Warren is not on a roller coaster when it comes to his faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. That is rock solid.
“I grew up in a Christian household,” states Adam. “My parents, Calvin and Teresa, were wonderful role models and great Christians. I learned and understood who God was and who Jesus was and the sacrifice Jesus made.”
At 12 years old Adam attended a New Song Concert in his hometown, New Bern, North Carolina. “I knew about Jesus and his ministry; but that night at the concert, they gave their testimonies and gave an altar call. At that point I felt my heart pulling to make a commitment to Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I really felt I needed to make that decision to ask Jesus into my life.”
Adam did not see the “fruits of that relationship,” and he did not get serious about it until the end of high school and the beginning of college when he was out on his own. “I soon realized that life is much more difficult trying to do things on your own. However, I knew God is willing to help you get through the difficult times and is there for you.” commented Adam. “I really started to grow in my faith and understand God’s grace and mercy and Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.”
As Adam slipped into his professional career, he found his relationship with Christ was growing stronger. He also found that baseball was not the top of the mountain when he made his major league debut on June 29, 2012. “I got to where I dreamed all my life about and I actually did terrible.” shares Adam. “It was really hard to see your dream in front of you and I kind of failed. As weird as it sounds, it was the moment I realized baseball is not the end all. I came to realize I am playing baseball for a reason, and it puts things in perspective. For me, it enhanced my relationship with Christ.”
Knowing he has a platform while playing major league baseball, Adam believes strongly that it will lead to more important things in his life when he leaves baseball. “You get to where you have that perspective that God has put me here for a reason. I am here to glorify God and that is a bigger purpose than baseball. Jesus has given me a purpose to my life. Some people think their purposes in life are career goals or to achieve certain stats. I see my life’s purpose is to glorify God and to impact others for God’s kingdom as the Bible calls us to put others before ourselves.”
Adam realizes putting others first is difficult because of being naturally selfish. “I strive to help others and to serve and glorify God in everything I do. When that happens, it changes the way a person lives and leads them away from selfishness.”
Former teammate Ben Zobrist, of the Chicago Cubs, shares, “Adam was a key member of our solid core of Believers on this (Cubs) team from the start this year. He has the unique combo of a calm spirit with a desire to grow and share his faith with others. His faith in Christ and care for others is genuine and consistent.”
Born to Calvin and Teresa Warren, Adam grew up in New Bern, North Carolina, where he was a star in the classroom as well as on the baseball field. He was an All Stater in 2004 and New Bern Sun Journal “Player of the Year.” Adam went on to star at the University of North Carolina where he accumulated a career record of 32-4, and he graduated with a degree in business administration. Adam was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 major league draft.
Adam met his wife, Kristen, in the middle school in New Bern. “We knew each other in sixth grade,” Adam comments, “but in eighth grade
she sat behind me in math class. We started to connect and started seeing each other. We dated off and on in early high school; however, we have been together since our junior year. I found my soulmate early.” They were married October 23, 2010 and he claims she is his rock. “Kristen is a strong Christian woman, and it has been incredible to have her with me for the ride. She travels with me to most places during the season, and it is truly a blessing to have a person with you during the good and bad times that understands you. This game is not easy.”
Adam and Kristen make their home in Riverview, Florida, during the off-season, and they attend The Life Church which he says “is a wonderful, loving group of people who really care about others. It has been a blessing to us.”
When it comes to reaching out to others about his faith, Adam is making an effort to be more outward. His most effective way to witness his faith is by example. He comments, “I would want people to look at me and see there is something different about me. Hopefully, they would ask questions; and in our conversation, I can share with them my love for Jesus. There have been some opportunities to share my testimony at churches and events, like Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and Athletes in Action (AIA).” Warren was active in FCA all through high school, and he was involved in AIA in college.
Mike Echstenkamper, Athletes in Action campus director at UNC, shares, “Adam is a man who wants to walk with God. He is humble in spirit, hungry to learn, but tough in competition. He is ‘the salt of the earth’ kind of person that you want to be around and makes a difference by what he believes and how he lives it.”
Adam had an opportunity to go on a mission trip to the Czech Republic and Germany through Purpose Driven Baseball, a group out of North Carolina where he had worked some camps. Adam explains, “In the Czech Republic and Germany, we hosted several baseball camps and built relationships with kids so we could share God’s Word. These kids live in a country where most are atheists, and they notice certain things about you. They want what we have, especially coming from a major league player. It was neat to build those relationships and share about Jesus. We mixed baseball and faith which are two important things to me.”
Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous, don’t be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you” is an important verse for Adam. Christians are often painted as weak or passive or pushovers. “This verse paints a strong picture,” Adam states, “that we are supposed to be strong, supposed to be courageous, and not be afraid of what life is before us. In the end we know Jesus paid the price.” Adam goes on, “For me, I know I am going to Heaven, my eternity is secure. So what do I have to be afraid of? In baseball, you have failure all the time. It is scary because you want to succeed and not let your team down. But when you look long term, you realize where you are going to spend eternity by what Jesus has done for you. It puts everything in proper perspective which makes it easier to get through tough times.”
We know being a Christian and living right does not guarantee success. God does not promise everything is going to be perfect here on earth. We are going to go through trials and troubles. “It is human nature to say ‘God, I am living for you, why am I not doing well in baseball or life in general?’” Adam comments, “Maybe God will prevail through the tough time so it can have an impact for someone else through your struggle or the way you handle the struggle. It may be a time the Lord is molding you in a way he wants. We know we will persevere through our trials and difficulties which builds character. Staying truthful to God has helped me get through the tough times.”
Rev. Michael McKee, associate campus pastor at The Summit Church and who was a chapel leader for UNC baseball, shares, “Adam is one of the most dedicated and determined players I have ever played with. But what stands out the most about Adam is that baseball is what he does, not who he is. His identity rests in Christ and that’s reflected in the way he lives his life. He does an incredible job of remaining consistent in his walk with the Lord and leveraging his platform of professional baseball for the Gospel.”
Chapel and Bible studies in the clubhouse have been a source of strength for Adam where teammates find support and encouragement as they share similar concerns and struggles. “I benefit the most,” Adam shares, “when I hear the Scriptures as it relates to our concerns or struggles and as I interact with my teammates, knowing they may have had similar experiences.”
“For me, a personal relationship with Christ is realizing the sacrifice God has given even though we are undeserving of his grace and mercy,” concludes Adam. “We are all sinners and for God to send his Son to die for us is so special to me. It is true love. My relationship with Christ allows me to live for others and to glorify God.”
Written by Bruce A. Darnall, Lake Mills, WI Photos credited to the New York Yankees and Adam Warren