Life was good for me. I was in the big leagues which was a childhood dream that I thought was not even possible. Not only did I make the big leagues, but I was having success there. I was a World Series Champ (2003) for the Florida Marlins. By the time I was 27, I had over 1,000 hits and was on pace for 3,000 which is a huge milestone in baseball. Only 28 players have ever accomplished this feat. Up to this point, I had played in every single game of the season for 5 years in a row (800+ games). I never sat out and never wanted to. Needless to say, baseball was my IDOL. I put it before everything including God.
I became a free agent in 2006 and signed a 5 year 44 million dollar contract. Now being a country boy from Alexandria, Louisiana, just the thought of having one million dollars would have been far fetched let alone 44 million dollars. I thought to myself that it doesn’t get any better than this. I had money, fame, cars, and a house. I bought all my family members new cars and my parents a new house. Jay Z even rapped about me in one of his songs! I had everything the world had to offer! However, I was missing the biggest gift of all and was about to find out without even knowing it.
In 2008, I found myself sitting on the bench on Opening Day for the first time in five years. This turned out being the toughest year of my life. I was bitter and angry. I earned 10 million dollars that year and went home after every game and cried because all I wanted to do was play. I could have cared less about the money at that point. I did not realize what God was doing – He was breaking me down. After the season, I picked up the Bible and tried to read it. See, I was raised Catholic and I did not grow up reading the Bible. So as I was reading I didn’t really understand anything, but I kept reading anyways.
During Spring Training of 2009 my life would change forever. This is when I met Pastor Chad Johnson of CMJ Ministries in a chapel service. He was the Spring Training Chaplain for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Prior to this, I always attended chapel every Sunday and I would find a Catholic church in every city I was in during the baseball season. I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus. I was just a fan of Jesus. One particular Sunday chapel service with Pastor Chad was different from all the others I’ve ever attended. As he was preaching it felt like his words were going right through me (Hebrews 4:12) and I heard the Word for the first time in my life. After that service I opened up my Bible and read it – I understood what I was reading. This time the words were jumping off the pages. I couldn’t believe it! Pastor Chad and I developed a friendship and he started to mentor and disciple me. In the spring of 2009, I gave my life to Christ and my life has not been the same since.
Pastor Johnson says, “I was available to him as chaplain to lend an ear and give encouraging words from the Lord. It was during this time that Juan made a commitment to a personal relationship to Jesus. He understands his platform, and he understands that God has lifted him up to be an impact for the Lord.”
“Juan is such a gentle spirit,” says former teammate, Scott Linebrink, “His commitment to growing in the Lord served as an inspiration and kept me accountable. You need teammates like Juan who are always encouraging and uplifting.” Linebrink continues, “Juan is often referred to as the hardest-working man in baseball. He seeks after Christ with the same intensity.”
Mickey Weston, White Sox chaplain and director of Unlimited Potential, Inc, says, “Juan Pierre has been a breath of fresh air in my life. He has such a humble spirit for a man who has played in the major leagues for 11 years. “Juan most of all seeks to glorify God in each and every area of his life,” Weston adds. “He is probably the hardest worker of anyone I have come across in baseball. He is very disciplined and wants to get the most out of his ability so it will bring glory to Jesus Christ.”