Mark 16:15 states, “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
What I find powerfully convicting about this passage is that it is a mandate to GO INTO ALL the world and proclaim the gospel. The call of Jesus, the call of the gospel, is to go and penetrate EVERY area of life with the eternal life-giving message of the gospel. This means that, as Christian believers, we all will have our “Nineveh” where the Lord would have us go and proclaim the gospel in a way that only we can. In fact, where the Lord calls us to go, it can be sadly misunderstood by those even within the body of Christ.
“What, you want us to go to THEM [insert people group] with the gospel? …Really? …REALLY? Oh…”
You see, on the outside, [some] Christians appear to love and support the idea of “going into”….just as long as the “going” fits into their safe and comfortable box and preconceived notions of how God can work. After all, far beit for anyone to get their hands “dirty” in reaching a certain people group, right?
The Apostle Paul give a stirring and sacrificial look into how best “going into all the world with the gospel” is most effectively carried out in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (ESV). He states:
“19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
I have been a professional wrestling fan since I was seven years old. And, in all actuality, I have been a “wrestler” since I was four-days-old. [You can read my entire “pro wrestling” story in my free e-book that I wrote here.
One of my dreams was to one day get involved in the pro wrestling business. I also have a huge desire and calling for ministry and have long heard the “call” to go to my “Nineveh,” the pro wrestling world. Yet, would this ever happen? And, if so, what could this look like?
A few years ago, I got connected with Rich Abbott, the founder of Wrestling Theology Fellowship [Facebook | Instagram], a professional wrestling ministry based out of Mercy Road Church in Carmel, IN. Obviously, my ears and spirit perked up in learning more about what Wrestling Theology was trying to do: Go into all the world with the gospel, spreading faith, hope, love…and pro wrestling.
Being a photographer, I asked Rich if he wanted/needed someone to do photography for his wrestling events. Rich highly welcomed the opportunity for me to come and shoot his events. At my first Wrestling Theology Fellowship event, I was quickly thrown into the world of independent pro wrestling, to which Indiana is a fast-growing and exciting hotbed! All of a sudden, I too was part of the show. I not only took photography of the matches, but also took promo shots backstage, getting to know the very diverse cast of “characters.” And, through Wrestling Theology, I have gained connections with other independent pro wrestling groups who have noticed what I have to offer and now enquire about me coming and doing photography for them as well.
From a ministry standpoint, I was really encouraged by how Wrestling Theology purposefully and unashamedly incorporated a gospel message/devotion in the middle of each show, along with the ministry heart behind all that was done. Furthermore, it was refreshing as to how Wrestling Theology carried out it’s ministry in a real and honest way. This is not some cheesy, Sunday school gimmick where you have a “Devil” character facing off against an “Angel” character and everything is tied up in a nice, clean bow at the end where everyone ends up singing and swaying to “Kumbaya.”
What’s more, it is powerful to see the many diverse people that Wrestling Theology draws to it’s shows; people who would never [willingly] show up to a typical church event. I am talking about atheists, agnostics, and every other stripe of people underneath the rainbow. And, this is not simply the wrestling fans, but it’s also the wrestlers too. I have found that [most] of the Wrestling Theology clientele, while not Christian believers, fully respect what is going on at our events and desire to be a part of the high-quality product that is put on.
Back to my own wrestling/ministry dreams, while I was thrilled that God opened the door for me to get involved with pro wrestling via my photography, I had no idea that He was going to expand my own ministry reach in such an amazing way.
As I mentioned earlier, Wrestling Theology incorporates a devotion/message in the middle of each show. I was honored back in December 2018 to come and give my own pro wrestling story and gospel message to the crowd. You can watch my testimony here. Apparently, it went over well as Rich has asked me to lead [or help lead] the devotional message at each show ever since then. – Wait, what?!? All of a sudden, God has opened up the door wide for me to preach the love of Christ and the Truth of the gospel, to my “Nineveh!”
While it has been powerful for me to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” and attempt to “become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some,” it has also been powerful for me to have the Lord reignite my heart for a “people group” that some might never consider “going” to. If we are all honest, we must admit that at some point in each one of our lives, we have been up against the ropes, slammed down for the count, and/or beaten into a submission. We all are “professional wrestlers!”
A huge part of ministry is the willingness to get to know people [who are really not like us] in order to find some common ground in which to spiritually build upon. I think the Doors said it best in their song lyric, “People are strange, when you’re a stranger.” Yet, when we take the time to really get to know people, below the surface and behind the mask – the good, the bad, and the ugly – we can truly realize how best God can use us to eternally impact those lives for Jesus Christ. Apologist and author Ravi Zacharias underscores this when he said, “You’ll never get to a person’s soul until you understand their hurts.”
I like to remind the audience that “God loves us so much that He meets us where we are. BUT, God loves us too much to leave us as we are.” We need to love people enough to go to them, into their world, meeting them where they are. Yet, that is only half of the biblical mandate. You see, if we don’t love them enough to then tell them the truth about the gospel and God’s love for them, we are doing an eternal disservice. For me, I want to do all that I can to love people enough to go into THEIR world and let them know that they have Someone in their corner who desires to be tagged into their life. This is precisely what Wrestling Theology Fellowship is trying to accomplish.
We are all in the most important [very real] wrestling match of our lives; a match with the outcome having life and eternal consequences. The referee has started the three-count: One, two…go!