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It sounded like a long shot.

What was the likelihood that two young guys from India could become pro-baseball players in America?

Especially if they’d never even played the sport?

I was intrigued by the premise so I rented Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” movie at a local video store.

Granted, the movie came out in 2014, but I can get behind in movie-watching.

Anyway, I liked the show based on the true story of sports agent J.B. Bernstein who must find new clients to keep his business afloat.

There’s a scene in the movie where Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm) is watching Susan Boyle impress an audience on the “America’s Got Talent” show.

Flipping through TV channels, he also sees a televised cricket game in India.

He gets an idea.

What if he could find cricket players in India and train them to become pro-baseball players?

Sound preposterous?

Perhaps, but Bernstein is ready to try.

He finds a scout (played by Alan Arkin), who seems more intent on napping than discovering a future star.

But Bernstein and his scout — helped by some very nice guys in India — set out to find kids with potential through a talent contest called “Million Dollar Arm.”

As you might expect, they find two talented young men—Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel.

But neither of them even play cricket.

Bernstein still brings Singh and Patel to the United States, where these young kids are immersed in a very different culture.

My mothering instincts started to simmer as the playboy Bernstein seemed more intent on boosting his social life than nurturing Singh and Patel.

Bernstein seems oblivious to the fact that they could use a father figure in a place that’s so foreign to them.

And a place where the odds are against them.

The story reminds me of a young man we find in the Bible.

The odds were against this guy, too.

For one, he was young. He’d probably spent more time hanging around sheep than people.

And he had no formal military training.

Certainly not your first pick to battle a heavy hitter named Goliath.

Yet a shepherd boy named David was ready to step up to the plate.

Centuries before Jesus ever walked the earth, his ancestor, David, lived in the time of wicked King Saul, who ruled over the people of Israel.

God was displeased with Saul and planned to replace him with David.

So the Lord sends the prophet Samuel to anoint David with oil — a sign that he will be the next ruler.

Yet long before David ever becomes king, he’ll meet many challenges.

One of them is Goliath.

At this time in history, the armies of Israel and the Philistines are facing each other ready for battle.

King Saul and the Israelites are on one hill and the Philistines on the other.

Only a valley separates them.

David’s three oldest brothers are at the battle line. Out comes Goliath of Gath, a 9-foot-tall warrior with a bad temper and a big mouth.

Goliath shouts at Israel’s ranks. He wants them to choose a man to fight him. If the Israelites win, then the Philistines will be their servants.

But if Goliath wins, the Israelites will become the Philistines’ slaves.

The Israelites are terrified. None of them are strong enough to defeat Goliath.

And he knows it.

So every day — for 40 days — Goliath issues his challenge.

Meanwhile, David’s dad decides to have the kid take food to his brothers at the battle site.

So David heads out. When he reaches the camp, David hears Goliath shouting his defiant challenge — and sees the Israelites running.

David learns the king will give great wealth to the man who kills Goliath.

That man also gets to marry the king’s daughter and the victor’s family will be exempt from taxes in Israel.

And who wouldn’t want to be totally tax exempt?

But while David’s soaking up all the data, his oldest brother, Eliab, is getting defensive.

Eliab burns with anger as he asks, “Why have you come down here? … I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

Such talk doesn’t dissuade David, who goes to King Saul and offers to fight Goliath.

The king isn’t real encouraging either.

“You’re not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him,” the king says. “You are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

In other words: “You didn’t go to West Point Military Academy. You’re not an Army Ranger — and this Goliath guy has years of training and experience. He probably fought his way right out of the cradle.”

OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but the king wasn’t a confidence booster.

And – kind of like those kids from India — David is facing an uphill battle.

So he lays out his resume.

David tells how he’s been watching over his dad’s sheep. When a lion or a bear took a sheep from the flock, David went after it. He’d hit the beast and take the sheep from its mouth.

And when that lion or bear turned on him, David would grab it by its hair, strike and kill it.

Sound impossible?

Not when God is your coach, sustainer, protector, defender and friend.

David isn’t the biggest kid on the block.

But he doesn’t have to be.

He has the creator of the universe behind him.

And he knows it.

“The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine,” David tells the king.

So Saul agrees to send David out with a coat of armor, a bronze helmet and a sword.

David tries walking around with all this stuff, but realizes he won’t get anywhere with it — because he isn’t used to it.

And maybe he doesn’t need a lot of bling to dress for success.

At any rate, David sticks with what he knows. He drops the armor. He gathers five smooth stones from a steam, puts them in his shepherd’s bag and with a sling in his hand goes to meet Goliath.

Overly confident to the point of being offended that the Israelites would send someone who probably just quit using pimple cream, Goliath roars about his plans to turn David into bird seed and animal feed.

David tosses tough talk right back to Goliath, but doesn’t end before giving God the credit – saying, “the battle is the LORD’s and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Then not walking — but running — to meet his opponent, David puts a stone in the sling and sends that rock flying right into Goliath’s forehead.

Goliath falls face down on the ground. David then kills the giant with his own sword and the Philistines run off with the Israelites in hot pursuit.

The kid voted least likely to succeed ends up becoming the victor.

Actually, God is the hero of this “Against All Odds” story.

That’s one thing I love about God.

When the odds are against us, we don’t have to worry — because the odds mean nothing to God.

The same God who parted the Red Sea, fed manna to the Israelites for 40 years and raised the dead can certainly help us.

It’s true that while we may never face a 9-foot-tall giant, our problems can seem just as big and scary.

That’s when we must remember that shepherd kid and who was on his side — the one who delivers us from the paws of lions and bears and the hands of our modern-day Goliaths.

So what happened to Singh and Patel? Both were signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates pro-baseball team. Singh later became a professional wrestler in India. Patel went home to finish his schooling and taught baseball.

What happened to David, the shepherd-turned-giant-killer? After many trials and tribulations, he became king of Israel and had more troubles.

But David left us with an example of how it’s not the size or strength of the person that matters. God more than makes up for that with his love and power.

And even if you don’t have a Million Dollar Arm, if you have a heart for God — you have a real treasure chest.

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Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly spiritual column.


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