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Frank Pastore: Struck Down But Not Destroyed
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - Radio talk show host Frank Pastore is a prime example of someone who has been able to overcome tragedy with triumph.
Once a promising young pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, Pastore’s career came to a screeching halt in 1982 when his elbow was literally shattered by a line drive off the bat of the Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Steve Sax. One pitch, one swing, one career reduced to fragments.
However, God took what seemed so hopeless and turned it into something beautiful. A self-described atheist, Pastore eventually found Jesus Christ and went on to earn two masters degrees and host the most popular Christian radio talk show in America.
CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with Pastore to discuss his new memoir, Shattered: Struck Down, But Not Destroyed, his dysfunctional childhood, and how God can restore anyone from brokenness and betrayal.
Your book is called Shattered. The obvious shattering you refer to in your writing is when you shattered your elbow when you got hit by a line drive. My guess would be that this is not a good thing for a Major League pitcher. There are also two other shatterings that you write about. Tell me about those.
My first shattering was finding out how screwed up my family childhood was. As a kid, you don't want to believe that you’re abnormal. You want to think it's okay, and you're like everybody else. But early on, by fifth grade I realized, we were not. I had lived in 12 houses by the time I started high school.
Mom had at least four failed marriages, maybe five. They would never talk about their history, my mom and dad. The dating, the whole thing, just black spots. The shattering was realized in that mom was raising a 10-year-old girl in Los Angeles, got pregnant with me, married the guy, and they never slept in the same bedroom. They never kissed on the lips. They never showed emotion. It was a very emotionally sterile, cold upbringing. The only thing that would quote, "unify the family" was baseball. I was not very close with my dad.
In other words, your whole existence to your parents was predicated on baseball.
Good insight. It was very performance-based, externally focused, and so your acceptance on people is on performance. You know, we often say especially in church, you’re not what you do, it’s who you are, and all that kind of stuff. We get locked into our identity and what we do for a living, even more so as a secular atheist. So the shattering was realizing how screwed up my family really was, because I always made excuses, and religion was a completely fake world that was like the witness protection program. I never got too close to anybody, and it was like that. That was one shattering. Another one was professional in ministry. I was teaching at Biola University, so anyone who has had a career or a ministry church staff 501(c)(3), where you didn't do anything wrong, and God moves you out, but you are so ticked at the time, and so that whole process. In hindsight, you can, of course, see God's hand. At the moment it's "what are you doing?"
So, here is the bottom line. The reason I wrote Shattered, it's not about me. It's not that important. I was a very mediocre, below average baseball player. But what was really interesting was how God has taken the shattered fragments of my life and put them together into a beautiful mosaic that you never saw coming.
Never seen becoming a Christian, never seen going to college as a 30-year-old freshman, never seeing going to grad school, being a seminary professor, doing a radio show, these are predictable kind of things. But God put these pieces together to make something beautiful.
What advice can you give to people who feel like their lives are over, shattered?
Divorce and cancer, "my kid's rebellious," whatever. God is still there. You may not see what He is doing but He can bring good out of this, and it's only your trust, or your faith in Him can only be based upon character and track record, the same way we trust our friends, or you have faith in your best friend, or your trust your spouse because of character and track record. So many people try to have faith like this, this wishing. It's not wishing; it's trust. It's character and track record. And so I've come to the place where no matter what happens in my life, I know God is there and involved, even if it's the loss of my children, my grandchildren might get messed up in a motorcycle accident or whatever, God can still bring good out of this. Life can be a pain. You could get HIV AIDS, an orphan. But God can still bring good out of it, and that's my encouragement.
Did you ever sit back and ask yourself, "God, how did I get from a washed up baseball player to college to a radio host to teaching college? Do you ever ask yourself, “God, what happened here?"
To use a baseball analogy, all you can do is be faithful to get the guy out that's in front of you. And if you keep getting guys out, they'll find a place for you to play. So, in whatever I have begun, it is to be as present as you can, and do a good job at this task, and sadly the consequences. I'm not the GM. I'm not even the manager. I'm just a player. So, on my radio show, or in class, or whatever, it just stood the test of it's right in front of you. I just want to encourage people. (Charles) Spurgeon once said, "Seek preparedness, not opportunity." I love that, because that's the minor leagues with the right mindset.
As an author, after people read Shattered what do you want people to get out of this? What is your goal for your readers?
God is real. You can be a Christian and live in the real world, that it's not fake. It's not pretend. It's raw. It's not candy coated. Everything doesn't have a cute little pink bow on the top. My relationship with my mother never reconciled. And it's really corny. It's okay to be at peace with the pieces. And that's okay. God is still in charge.
It was only through this process (of being shattered and finding out who God is) that it could get knitted. And so this book, let me put it this way, give this book to your husband or your son that has a difficult time talking about their emotions, and this will "green light" that it's okay.
To purchase Shattered: Struck Down, But Not Destroyed.
Chris Carpenter serves as the Director of Internet Programming for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Chris's bio page.
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