Monday, April 30, 2007

An Open Letter to a Christian High School

I sent the following letter to a Christian school after witnessing abhorrent behavior by some of the school's baseball players, at a local restaurant. I have removed the name of the school in this edition, in order to give the school anonymity, until they respond to my letter (if they do).

To the Leadership of ________ Christian School:

An Open Letter:

My name is Tony Miano. I serve as the director of Ten-Four Ministries, which is a missionary organization. I am a retired, 20-year law enforcement veteran. I am writing this letter to express my deep disappointment and genuine concern regarding the deplorable behavior of some of your students, which I observed on Saturday, April 28, 2007.

My 12-year-old daughter and I were enjoying dinner at In-n-Out Burger, in Santa Clarita, at approximately 5:20 pm, when the _______ Christian baseball team entered the restaurant. The players (and coaches) were wearing various elements of their baseball uniforms, which included navy blue T-shirts that had “_______ Christian Baseball” printed on the front, and Scripture verses printed on the back. According to the baseball team’s schedule, they likely stopped at the restaurant during their return drive to ________, following a day of baseball at ________ High School.

When my daughter and I finished our meal, we made our way to the front of the restaurant. My daughter stopped to use the restroom, so I waited for her on a bench, in the lobby area. As I sat waiting for my daughter, I watched as a few of your players began to pull down the shorts (to the ankles) of other players. The players seemed to find great humor and pleasure in the activity. They did not seem to care that there were ladies present, of various ages, in the restaurant. I am glad that my little girl did not have to witness the behavior of your players.

I watched the behavior for a couple of minutes before quietly asking (not wanting to bring more embarrassment than they already had brought to themselves and your school) a few of the players if they could tell me what part of their behavior was Christ-like. I explained to them that I thought their behavior was a poor witness.

Most of the players ignored me—except for one. This player, with a touch of sarcasm and disrespect in his voice, announced that although he attended a Christian school, he was not a Christian—as if, somehow, that fact justified his deplorable behavior. He quickly changed the subject, asking if I had seen his receipt, which went missing after his shorts were pulled down around his ankles.

Seeing how the players involved had no concern for their sinful behavior, I spoke to one of the coaches. When I explained to him what I had witnessed, he showed little visible concern and simply said he would talk to the players. Wanting to give the coach the benefit of the doubt, my hope is that he did talk to the players. But frankly, considering how poorly some of your players behaved in a public restaurant, with such wanton disregard for the fact that they were walking “Christian” billboards in their uniforms, it causes me to question not only the character of the players, but also the leadership of the team.

I understand that not all who attend “Christian” schools are born again followers of Jesus Christ. I understand that there are many false converts within the Church and the “Christian” culture. However, the conduct of some of your students has, in my mind, sullied the reputation of your school. Sadly, I had not heard of your school before seeing the sinful behavior of your students. The first impression was not a good one.

Of far greater offense than the assault on my own heart and mind, was the offense against my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How offensive it must have been to my Lord to see young men wearing “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” on their shirts while acting so contrary to His Word and His character.

Some of the players on your baseball team likely served as excuses for others in the restaurant to remain in their unbelief, as they watched the hypocritical behavior of young people who professed to be Christians, through their school clothing—as they saw yet another example of professing Christians who looked no different than the unsaved world around them.

I do hope this letter, written with care and concern, finds its way into the hands of the leadership of the school. While what I saw from your baseball team that Saturday evening may have been an isolated incident (and I hope it was); I hope you see that you do have significant character issues within the ranks of your baseball program. And I hope that appropriate, God-honoring steps will be taken to correct the problem.

I am praying for your school, your baseball program, the players involved in this embarrassing situation, and the one player who proudly proclaimed his unbelief.

Respectfully, and with the care of a brother in Christ,

Chaplain Tony Miano
Director of Ten-Four Ministries


Anonymous said...

That is horrible! Hopefully the school will reprimand those boys for their misbehavior.

Dru Morgan said...

Bravo. As a parent of three children who are themselves in various stages of Christian schooling, I applaud your courage and conviction to stand up and actually say something to the children and their leaders. I also appreciate that you took your time to send a followup letter to the administration of the school.

I'm glad to see that even in a huge city like LA that we live in, there are still people in the community looking out for others, even if they have to go out of their comfort zone to do so.

MikeFromFR said...

If this school has even a shred of spiritual caliber, they will take this opportunity to contact YOU, Tony, and invite you to speak to their sports program in its entirety concerning these spiritual things; what it means to be a witness. That would be really productive. Lets pray they will.

beckinunez said...

Thank you for holding that Christian School accountable.
Our baseball team at our Christian School is having some spiritual battles too, and to think that someone from the outside is looking in, needs to remind us that we are held to a higher standard, but one that we shouldn't have to work so hard at, but we do.
I am forwarding your letter to our adminstrator for a couple reasons. 1st reason is; You made several valid points in your letter that I think our team and ALL of our coaches need to hear, 2nd reason is, our Administrator is a retired Brother in law enforcement and lastly he is a Pastor, a man of God. This letter needs to be shared with our team(s).
I know, as the Girls volleyball coach, I am going to print it out and share it with my team. We, they, need to know that the public watches, and holds 'Christians' to a much higher standard than public school kids.
Toni, thank you.
You opened my eyes, my heart and my mind, to the things that I need to beaware of as a coach, mom and sister in Christ.
I pray that all the coaches out there that read your letter, will pass it on to their teams and that they will remember, we are always, always being watched.
Becki Nunez
Girls Volleyball Coach
North County Christan School
Atascadero Ca

Steven said...

One of the things I've always loved about Tony is that he lives what he preaches. That is how the Lord used him in my life. The Lord blessed his faithfulness and drew me to Himself. With regard to these kids, it reminds me a bit of what one preacher said about Christian bumper stickers. He said he didn't put them on his car because he didn't want the responsibility. If this school wants to emblazon itself with "Christian" and use Scripture on its uniforms, it needs to put teams out there to emulate Christ. There is no excuse for that sort of behavior in public, especially by those who bear the Name of the Savior. The school needs to do some pruning or change its name.

Anonymous said...

Tony, thank you for speaking firmly and in truth to both the players of the team and to the coach. Christians are the salt and light of the world. You have gently and carefully exemplified this in love without compromising the faith.