Pitching For A Greater Purpose

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw is one of the titans of the game, earning 2014’s MVP title and the Cy Young award that same year. He has dedicated his talents and success to diving into another passion of his: Spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. He and his wife Ellen have developed Kershaw’s Challenge in order to serve a community that God has placed on their hearts: The children of Zambia.

“Kershaw’s Challenge is a call to action,” says Ellen. “It’s about challenging others to use their talents, gifts, and passions to give back to others in need.”

Clayton’s platform is on the baseball field. He uses his great talent to help those in need by making a donation for every strikeout he pitches. Since his career start in 2008, he has had the lowest ERA (earned run average) among any starter in the MLB.

“Clayton is pitching for a greater purpose,” said Ellen.

She and Clayton have visited Zambia numerous times and have witnessed firsthand the poverty that the children and families in the community experience daily.

“We didn’t want to give money to just any organization,” said Ellen. “We had been to Zambia and knew the names and faces of children who were suffering. We couldn’t leave them behind.”

So they didn’t;  Kershaw’s Challenge is a ministry that continues to grow today. In 2012, the Kershaws opened the doors of the Arise Home, an orphanage in Zambia, Africa. In this safe home, many hurting and abandoned children receive shelter, three meals a day, and a private education.

“We wanted to provide a good environment for the children,” said Ellen. “But the thing we really want these kids to experience is family.”

Currently, the Arise Home houses 12 young African children who are able to hear about the love of Jesus Christ and be raised by godly men and women whom they look up to and learn from.

In 2012, the Kershaws wrote the book Arise in hopes of raising money for continual growth for the orphanage. This allowed them to purchase land for a second home in 2014. Their mission for 2015, while continuing to minister to the children in the original Arise Home, is to raise the rest of the funds for the building of the second home.

Many athletes and individuals have accepted the Kershaw’s Challenge. Partners with the Kershaws have included little league players—donating allowance money—1,000-mile runners, running to raise donations, and many more.

Kershaw’s Challenge also has hit the streets in the Kershaws’ local communities of Dallas and LA. More recently, they have broken ground in the Dominican Republic.

“Clayton has played with a lot of guys from the D.R. It’s been a place that’s been on his heart for a while,” said Ellen.

Kershaw’s Challenge is partnering with CURE International in the Dominican Republic. CURE International is an organization that provides healthcare to children in need. So far, Kershaw’s Challenge has raised and donated enough money to provide 100 surgeries for children, the salaries for 2 full-time physicians, and medical equipment in the Dominican Republic.

“Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought that we would be where we are today,” said Ellen. The ministry continues to impact the lives of children and families around the world. Clayton and Ellen have committed their lives to the challenge and they encourage others to do the same.

The purpose of the Kershaw’s Challenge includes four distinct calls, Ellen says:

“Challenging yourself to do something. Challenging friends to make a difference. Challenging the community to come together. Challenging the world to become a better place.”

—Rebecca York

See Clayton and Ellen tell the story of Christ’s Increase in their lives here.

Grab The Increase’s YouVersion devotional (featuring devos by MLB and NFL pros) here.