I’m just ONE out of the MILLIONS . . .
At the age of 12, I attended a summer camp in Chico, CA called Radical Reality Summer Camp. At that time in my life, there was a lot going on. I didn’t know what the next four years would look like, but at that camp, I experienced God in a real way and I’m so thankful I did because the next four years would be turmoil. My brothers and I would witness physical abuse in a real way, my mom would encounter an addiction with alcohol that would eventually lead to us being adopted by family members at the age of 16, and life as we knew it, changed!
During that period of time (4 years), we would attend a church in Roseville, CA where a guy by the name of Donnie Moore would come very often. He was larger than life. He was the Chaplain of The Oakland A’s, my favorite baseball team of all time, an evangelist who spoke in churches all over, and also a motivation speaker in junior high, high school, and colleges all across America. He and his team, Radical Reality spoke in every state in America except 1. Through the course of 30+ years, over 10 million heard him in those schools. When it came to the camps, over 30,000 students. When it has come to the impact he had on athletes, immeasurable!
When I attended those youth camps throughout the years, it was an escape from the turmoil we faced at home. I never wanted camp to end because I didn’t want to go home. The camp had the best worship, the messages were life altering, and the presence of God was through the roof. At these camps, my faith grew stronger, I built relationships with people, received The Holy Spirit & prayer language, competed in team activities, dealt with hard issues in my life and forgave those who brought pain into my life by their actions, and created memories that I still carry today.
One memory . . . I was so nervous to talk to Donnie. To me, he was again, bigger than life. It wasn’t because he was intimidating . . . he was far from that. At the end of camp, I approached him and asked if he could sign my Bible. To me, Donnie was like an athlete and when you’re a kid, an autograph is of top priority. I remember him taking my Bible and not just signing it, but writing something more. The words read, “The world will try to keep you from this book and this book will keep you from the world.” Your friend, Donnie Moore.
WOW! 24 years later, he was right!
At 16 years old, we were adopted by my uncle and aunt and with the transition of life and such, we didn’t make it to any more camps. For the next two years, I walked away from my faith. Internally, I was struggling with all that was going on. Yet at the same time, I lived with a family who was safe, secure, and sound. They showed my brother and I so much love and support. But the problem that I didn’t fully realize was that I laid my faith down.
At the age of 19, I found myself in a place of despair. Baseball, a game that I played my whole life was over. Couldn’t hack it at the next level. Moved back to Sacramento, got a job at UPS, moved in with my grandparents and just felt stuck. Eventually moved into an apartment in Rancho Cordova with my brother and just existed.
Through a series of events, I find myself going back to the church in Roseville, CA and started playing drums for the youth group. Summer time approaches and my youth pastor, Joe Antekeier invites me to camp to be a counselor. To make a long story short, I go and my life forever changes. God speaks to me, on 3 separate occasions and calls me to the ministry. The next thing you know, I’m in an intern program and on my way to become a youth pastor.
Over the next 10 years, I become a jr high youth pastor, start helping with media, and through that time attend camps with students. Eventually, I become the youth pastor and again, continue attending camps. One year, they asked if I can help with media and I jump in. AND THEN IT HAPPENS . . . Donnie needs to meet with me to go over his notes for a powerpoint that needs to be made.
So I remember driving up to his cabin in a golf cart. There he is, on the porch with his notebook, a pen, old school white out, a Lipton ice tea, and of course what seems like 1 gallon of cologne on. If you know Donnie, you know what I’m talking about.
So I sit with him and he begins to walk the message out. Now, instead of just saying, put this scripture, this quote, and this point on, he proceeds to preach the message out loud. This will come into play later on. So, I sat there, listened, wrote stuff down, and mentally prepared myself. At the end, he actually asks me if he should changed anything. I’m like, “Dude, you’re Donnie Moore, everything you just said is AWESOME!” And make no mistake about it, Donnie knew how to hear from God!
(I did not call him dude. #lol)
I loved going to that cabin anytime he asked.
Fast forward a few years, I am at camp, getting ready for a night service, praying, and the Holy Spirit speaks to me and says transition is coming, and I’m to go work for Donnie. WHOA! I remember telling Vanessa and she is like, I feel it too. So, I tell her, I am not saying a word unless Donnie does. If God can speak to me, God can speak to him and sure enough, after a meal in town, I’m driving with Donnie and he proceeds to inform me that God spoke to him about Vanessa and I. He asked if God was leading us to come and partner with him. And just like that, we’re off to Stockton, CA.
I am working for my hero!
The next years ahead would see us working out in the weight room together, traveling to churches, sitting in the Oakland A’s locker room and spring training facilities, traveling to cities to invade jr high and high schools with a message of “Whatever your mind can conceive, your heart believe, you then can achieve!” Countless nights, sometimes early mornings, you could find us at Denny’s eating eggs, grits, toast, turkey bacon all washed down with whole milk. Those were some of my most cherished times.
On the road, he would ask me to preach messages out loud to him so he could critique me and make me better. He would point to an item on the road and say, “Rich, what do you see?” He was wanting me to use my words in a way that would describe it accurately but with a story. Donnie was a master story teller! At times I would tell him about the hurts I had experienced along the way and he would listen, and listen, and listen! Then, he would flip a switch and encourage me, give me answers, correct me if needed, and always give me an action step. Donnie knew how to disciple. He was genuine about it.
Through those years, I got to read his notes, HANDWRITTEN, and create powerpoint and handouts. A while ago, I had a binder with all the copies I made. Something spilt on it and they were ruined. I was devastated. Those notes where the product of a man who stayed up countless hours praying and writing. Those words were powerful. I loved his notes and how he laid them out, corrected mistakes with white out, used arrows to point towards thoughts, and yes of course, I loved the typos. I loved them because I would then have Cindy, his wife, text me to correct them. Cindy . . . I owe this woman so much! Genuine, so genuine! Cindy is the type of lady that can listen and speak life into any situation with grace and wisdom. She put up with my “everything has a place” on Dropbox and super analytical mind towards everything. She helped me lighten up on some areas in my life but what meant the world to me . . . she loved my wife! She cared for her. She listened to her. She made Vanessa feel important. I’m forever indebted to Cindy Moore!
Over time, God had transitioned us through a couple of spots, but Donnie and I remained in contact. He let me build his website, even with my very limited skills. I still got to make his powerpoint, he still called and preached his message to me. He would also just call to tell me how proud he was of Vanessa and I. There would be times where He’d call and say, “Running arrow (the nickname he gave me years ago), Red Man (Donnie) is very proud of you!” I called him red man because he would have a v-neck on and his big massive chest, result of benching over 500 pounds, was RED!
Did I mention in his 50’s, he’d bench 500 pounds on his birthday? A couple of times, I had to spot him! Me . . . 160 pound boy . . . spot him! I’ll miss that.
Donnie always made me feel special. He called me one of his spiritual sons. He’d call and say “Rich, you’re doing it. You’re faithful to the call of God on your life. You’re preaching God’s Word. You have a beautiful family. I’m so proud of you!”
He would ask me to preach my message for Sunday over the phone to him. He’d give me insight and clarity. He’d also tell me if it stunk! I loved him for that.
I have so many memories that I could go on forever. We just loved Jesus and had a lot of fun.
Donnie . . .
– Attended my wedding and prayed over Vanessa and I.
– Loved my boys and prayed over them.
– Spotted me when I reached 315lb on the bench press.
– Gave DJ and I money to buy gardening bricks from peoples houses in Arizona because Home Depot didn’t have the right ones for them to use on the feats of strength.
– Called me over to the house countless times to fix anything to do with technology.
– Gave me my first bottle of Versace Cologne that I still wear to this day, and always will.
– Let me speak at camp for breakout sessions & Man of God talks.
– Called me and asked me to speak in a main session this year. (Dream of mine)
– 36 Camps together. (Easter & Summer)
– Let me drive from church to church so he could go over his message.
– Christmas lights . . . OH MY!
– Faith & Family Day
– Val’s Burgers
– Countless talks about Kenny & Shirley Foreman
I could go on for days!
Donnie believed in me and went beyond words to show that.
I coach my boys in Baseball because Donnie encouraged me too. He gave me the idea years ago while we were driving to the coliseum. I thought I should let other guys do it so my boys would learn to honor and respect others. He said, “You coach them. Other guys can still do that. But show them that you will be there for them.” I’m so grateful for that advice. It was so awesome to watch Donnie coach DJ with Jim Elliott Baseball. DJ, without a doubt, was a game changer for me. Countless truck rides, fast food meals, laughs for days, and everything in between. Time and life have created miles apart, but when we get on the phone, it’s like nothing changed. LOVE YOU DJ!
When God moved us to San Luis Obispo to become Campus Pastors, Donnie was the first guy I called. It meant the world to me that he celebrated with me over the phone and over the last year, He has called to check up and speak life into me. And yes, we have preached messages to each other.
I will miss those calls . . . his notes . . . his stories. I will miss Donnie Moore.
Donnie . . . I sure will miss you. In the mean time, the cooler will get loaded in the back of my truck with waters, gatorades, and energy drinks for college students and people around San Luis Obispo on a hot sunny day, the cologne, Altoids, and change of clothes will be in the truck at all times, and when I’m driving home late from an event, I’ll stop off at a Denny’s to grab a bite. I got my weight room setup in the garage and when I lift, I’ll think of you.
Thank you . . . for making me feel like the most important ONE . . . out of the MILLIONS!