Barry Lyons spent seven big league years on the receiving end.
These days the former Major League Baseball catcher is delivering the love of Jesus Christ.
Lyons, 54, followed up his message at Living Free Ministries Celebration Banquet on Thursday by speaking to students at Alcorn Alternative School and Alcorn Central Middle School on Friday.
“Barry is a great guy who fell in love with the Lord,” said Living Free founder Tommy Wilson after Lyons spoke at the Alternative School. “The response has been great and we plan on having him back again.”
Lyons’ message to students was to make right choices.
“Every day you have a choice to make,” said Lyons. “Jesus wants you to make the right choice … He created you to live the life He has planned for you.”
Lyons played for four teams – Mets, Dodgers, Angels and White Sox – over a seven-year MLB career. Alcohol and drugs became a part of his life while in college at Delta State.
“The choices I made there came in to play later in my career,” said the former All-American at DSU.
Drinking became a daily part of his life while in the big leagues.
“The game I was so good at became a struggle,” he told the students. “When I needed God the most, I turned to drugs and alcohol … I allowed the devil to tell me I didn’t need God.”
Lyons warned students about Satan.
“He is real,” said Lyons. “He is out there and wants to steal your life.”
Lyons hit rock bottom after being forced to leave the game due to a bad back. He dealt with depression and thoughts of suicide.
“My life was in turmoil,” said Lyons, who survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005 by riding out the storm with his family at home in Biloxi. “My parents died less than a year apart and my wife left me.”
It all changed for the Biloxi native in 2012.
“I cried out for God to save me,” he said. “Life changed when I cried out to Him … He restored everything the devil stole from me and He will do the same for you.”
Today, Lyons spends his time spreading the word of God.
“I’m not who I used to be,” he said. “Serving God is the most amazing thing I get to do … He is the highest life you can lead.”
Students were also urged to learn from their mistakes.
“You will still make mistakes after becoming a Christian,” said Lyons. “The key is to learn from them.”
Mistakes are part of life, according to Lyons.
“We all make them,” he said. “Trials are about growing and developing into the person God wants you to become … just let God guide you and He will give you the right game plan.”
Lyons, who has worked hard to bring minor league baseball to Biloxi over the past several years, will spend the summer coaching a group of college players in Bristol, Conn.
His work of spreading the word will also continue.
“I am motivated to lead others to Christ,” he said. “I am ready to go anytime some asks.”
Published April 10, 2015 by Steve Beavers for the Daily Corinthian