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Rays Chaplain Addresses Student Body

When one considers MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays, names such as David Price, Ben Zobrist, and Sean Rodriquez may come to mind. But what about Gio Llerena? Few recognize this name, but Gio is a vital part of the Rays organization. In 2005, Gio joined the staff of Baseball Chapel as the director of Latino Ministries with responsibilities in countries such as Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. But in addition, he is Chapel Minister for the Tampa Bay Rays, one of the hottest teams in the eastern division of MLB’s American League. Gio is also a 1994 graduate of Clearwater Christian College where he majored in Business.

Gio’s journey after graduation led him into a successful business career in Tampa and his hometown of Miami, and then on staff at Clearwater Christian College. He later accepted a call to full-time ministry to serve as youth and Spanish ministry pastor for the New Testament Baptist Church in Largo, Florida. From there, the doors opened for an opportunity to join Baseball Chapel to minister to an exclusive group of young men and their families who happen to be members of one of America’s favorite past times.

Gio was invited to be the chapel speaker during our 2014 Spring Student Athlete Days. This admissions recruitment event targets young men and women who want to participate in intercollegiate athletics while attending college. Gio’s appearance in chapel on this day stresses an important distinctive of CCC– athletic participation is a means to glorify God by allowing the gospel to permeate our entire being in such a manner that we speak it openly through our lives and witness to others. In his message, Gio compared the world’s view of success to that spoken of in the Bible. The world views success through victories won and personal statistics. The Bible views success in how one honors and magnifies the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, Gio gave three marks of the Gospel-centered athlete—humility, passion for God, and self-control–through specific scripture and examples from his ministry in major league baseball.