Rod Suydam’s story is one of fulfilling destiny. Coming to the point where you are walking in His will and fulfilling what God has called you to do. “It is something I questioned most of my life. Trying to put all the pieces of where, when, why and how together.” Rod says. Rod was raised by single mom, in the small town of Cuba, Illinois. It was his mother who established in him a fear of God and a desire to seek God.
As a young boy, he would ride his bike down the street to watch kids play baseball. He would see the uniforms, the laughing, people cheering and be completely mesmerized by what was happening. Eventually, Rod began to play baseball and it has since become a big part of his life. “I’m not a good individual player,” he says, “but I’m a good team player because I need people around me when I fail, because they make up for me where I lack.”
He came to know Christ at 17 after a Jamaican missionary came and spoke at a local Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) event. “I only went to the event because of girls and doughnuts,” he said, “but this missionary preached the simplest sermon I have ever heard. He preached on how Jesus loved me. The lights came on and I thought, this is what I need, this is what is real. It was exactly what I needed to hear.”
Rod started a journey through Bible schools and entered into vocational ministry by way of pastoring a church in a rural town. “I was young and inexperienced. I was sincere, but I made a lot of mistakes,” he said. He ended up leaving the church, and while on a good note, he felt tired and worn. Rod, his wife, and boys then moved to Kansas City in 1992. Several years later, he and his wife divorced and Rod raised his three boys from that point on his own. He had seen the faithfulness of his mom in raising her kids and that is what he, too, desired from God. God’s faithfulness continually sought him out and directed him from destruction.
There was a long period of time where Rod spent time focused on past failures. “It limited my state of mind, it weakened my mindset, it jeopardized my involvement in the church. I would hold back fearing failure again.” Rod said. “Paul reminded Timothy that we don’t have to live in the spirit of fear which was where I was living for so long. Through the grace I gained through the local body, through our pastors, through the faithfulness of God in my life; I learned to just lean into it, to keep pressing on. I learned that God is greater than my limitations and failures and to have forgiveness for myself in those failures.”
Rod attended the Ultimate Leadership conference, a week-long experience that helps people overcome personal obstacles in order to be successful, in September 2015 and after the experience from this week, he says he felt enlightened. Everything that was stashed away emotionally, he was able to unload after so many years of holding things in. He gained assurance of His presence and purpose for God’s plan for his life. He was able to get the emotional and mental release that was much needed.
Once being a prisoner to the fear of failure, he describes his life now as a prisoner of Christ where he is now able to live, not just survive. “I’m convinced of his plan and the calling He has given me.” He said. While he was holding himself back, dwelling on his inabilities, God would always remind Rod of his path, his plan, and his purpose. I never really embraced it completely and lived free until now.
God has always had the path, the purpose, the plan for my life. My life has come full circle, despite any setbacks, any failures. The game of baseball I was once so mesmerized by, I am now able to lead for 600 kids each year. “I found myself standing in a pulpit in Havana, Cuba realizing that God had brought me from Cuba, Illinois to the country of Cuba and it is because he was helping me fulfil His path, His plan and His purpose. I got saved when I did and where I did because God had a place to take me.” Rod said.
Rod has been a part of Graceway’s Youth League for more than 20 years. He coached all three of his boys until they went on to play ball in high school. The last four years Rod has served as our Youth League Director. He has had the opportunity to take his love of the game to other countries such as the Dominican Republic and Cuba. In the Dominican he and a team of people led baseball clinics and worked with area pastors teaching the concept of discipleship.
“Fulfilling my destiny could never have been done outside of our local church. It’s a place where we’ve all failed, but we have a place where we can experience God’s grace, get back up, and keep serving. It’s a place of love, acceptance, and nurturing.”