Craig Ver Stegg came to Baltimore with Head Coach John Harbaugh three years ago as the Ravens Offensive Assistant. I got to know him when, that first season, he came to Helping Up Mission for our Thanksgiving Day dinner where we feed anybody and everybody who would like a free meal. He was just sitting at a table talking to anyone who come and sat down. He didn’t bother to say who he was – just a guy hanging out. But I found out! We talked and he told me about that first year’s NFL draft for the Ravens. They did all the work they could and then, prior to the draft starting, Coach Harbaugh walked down the hallway and said there would be a prayer meeting in the conference room for anyone who wanted to attend. A number of coaches and staff joined him and Coach Harbaugh led in prayer. He said that they had done everything they knew to do for that year’s draft and felt like they were ready, but asked God to bring the right kind of players to the Ravens. That year they drafted Joe Flacco in the 1st round (18th overall pick) and Ray Rice in the 2nd (55th overall). Now in their 3rd NFL season, it looks like Coach’s prayer was answered.
I hadn’t forgotten that story. So the next year, right after the draft, I email Craig and asked him if they had prayed again this year. He wrote back, “We sure did pray. And HE sent us exactly who HE wants us to have.” That season they drafted Michael Oher in the 1st round (23rd overall). It looks to me like that was a pretty good answer, too.
Michael has started every game, as an offensive lineman, since he put on a Baltimore Ravens uniform. Offensive Line Coach John Matsko also came to the Ravens with Coach Harbaugh and is obviously the coach who works closest with Michael. Coach Matsko’s wife, Kim, volunteers regularly here at Helping Up Mission and recently asked Michael if he would be willing to come and share his story with the guys at Helping Up Mission. Michael said he would and two weeks ago Coach Matsko and Kim came with Michael Oher to offer some encouragement and support to us here.
It was my personal privilege to “interview” Michael in our new chapel with every chair filled. Because of his own background, he had so many wonderful things to say that our guys could relate to and apply to their lives. Then he took questions from the floor and afterwards stayed to have his picture taken with everyone who wanted one (including me!).
Michael Oher is a very special 24-year old man with a harsh and yet unbelievably blessed background. He is a man gifted with great natural talent and skill, as well as a clear vision of who he is supposed to be and the focus and determination to make the appropriate decisions to get there. I am so happy for him and really pulling for him to continue to follow God’s leading one day at a time.
Helping Up Mission is a very special place. The men in our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program are special guys and have all been given a special opportunity, themselves. That opportunity, here, has been made possible by the love and support of so many special friends over the years. A couple of the newest ones are Coach Matsko, his wife Kim and Michael Oher. God is good. Go Ravens!
Just glad to be here,
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director