By Jacob Sahms
The former general manager of Major League Baseball’s L.A. Dodgers and Montreal Expos, Kevin Malone has been cross-examined and inspected in the public eye for years. Now, he’s on a different platform, as he and his family are the subject of Brian Ivie’s (The Drop Box, Emmanuel) latest documentary, The Shawn Miracle. Together, the Malones tell the story of their son Shawn’s drug use, and near death, before a miraculous redemption story unfolded.
Translated into five languages, Malone says the film generates confessions of faith, requests for prayer, and dedication of lives everywhere he’s seen it shown. After their family discussed the risks of allowing their story to be told on film, they came to the decision that vulnerability and genuineness would allow them to touch people’s lives for the kingdom of God. Of course, Malone was more prepared after working in locker rooms as a player, coach, and executive.
“In the sports world, your life is picked apart,” Malone admitted, “whether you did or didn’t do it, said or didn’t say it. People knew everything you did, how you acted in certain situations, going to big events. I’m protective of my family, and so I needed them to be on board. People didn’t really know what was going on [when Shawn was addicted]. They assume there must’ve been a great sin in our life.”
“I think that people are judgmental and don’t know the Bible or God with the way they sit in judgment. I see limited love and unity in the church. It’s concerning. But now I only care that God’s name is lifted up, that the name of Jesus is put on display.”
As Malone shared about his son and the impact of this near death experiment, he was overcome by emotion, reflecting on what he missed as an unaware father and husband, and what he could have lost if Shawn had died.
“It’s painful to watch because it brings back pain and heartache from challenging times,” shared the former MLB executive. “We’ve seen God use it in a mighty mighty way, and that helps us deal. I didn’t really know what it meant to be a dad. I think I took for granted the challenges, the responsibilities, and the hard work of a mother and wife, because I was so focused on my job
What my family would say is ‘being Kevin Malone.’ Birthdays, special events, didn’t impact me until I almost lost my son.”
Kevin and Shawn Malone both lived life like they were invincible prior to Shawn’s coma. Malone says that it knocked him to his knees, as God humbled him through the near death and post recovery process. “When he came out of his coma, I had to bathe him, shower with him, wash his body, wipe his butt, put his clothes on,” he said. “That’s humbling for a twenty-four-year-old son to have to do that. I can’t put that into words. Your adult son is so dependent on you. I have a greater appreciation for wives and mothers who put up with disconnected fathers. They just want you to be dad or husband. It took something like that because I was a prideful man. God had to squash me like a bug before I could be humbled.”
Now, Malone is an advocate for masculinity, for recovery of the family unit, for faith in Jesus Christ. He speaks periodically to groups of athletes, to gatherings of men, about the counter cultural lessons he has learned about success.
“The world tells you that everything will fall into line when you achieve those goals. The culture doesn’t support being the best husband or father you can be. You can see the results in teenagers and young adults, who don’t know what’s important or how to prioritize. Their attitude is all about self and achieving their own goals. We’re living in Romans 1 times – you see the hardening of hearts all over the world. Men have hard hearts, that are not about God but about the flesh.”
Using the film to open doors, Malone believes churches and Christians need to wake up to the way that destructive habits and addictions like alcohol, gambling, and pornography are just as rampant in the church as they are in the culture outside of the church. And he thinks it’s high time that churches speak up.
“Church seems to be afraid to take tough stances and offend someone,” proposed Malone. ”The gospel is offensive. The challenge is to talk about real issues in the lives of the members – the real struggles and problems going on. Most believers won’t talk about it because they feel ashamed. There are kids with drug problems and the family feels like it’s their fault. So much unbiblical stuff being talked about. I don’t think Jesus is glorified by the church these days. It’s about the church becoming too much like the world. What do we have to offer to non-believers? We don’t show them anything different, any love, unity, that’s different? Why would they want what we have?”
Quoting his friend David Crowder, Malone says that Jesus is the remedy. He’s the cure that healed Shawn spiritually, and is in the process of healing Shawn physically. Malone’s son still walks with a limp, but he can play catch, and walk, things he couldn’t do a year and a half ago. Malone doesn’t believe Shawn is the whole way back yet, but he doesn’t believe God is done either. It’s all part of why Malone tells Shawn regularly that he’s got a testimony to share, and he should go into ministry to share it far and wide.
Just like the film, available for free at https://www.shawnmiracle.com/watch/, this story will be one that will grab your heart and challenge you to believe more deeply.