Monday, October 31, 2005
Show me T-Money!
T-Money and Me at the WFJ Banquet in July
Saturday's WFJ show in Branchville was a huge success. Many came to know the Lord, and many were touched, including a few people in my home! It was great to see everyone in WFJ and I love watching them perform. Along with Tama, I provided ringside commentary and had a blast. The best part was no broken bones!
I have a confession to make. My favorite part of the WFJ show is NOT the wrestling. It is the chance to hang out, briefly or not, with T-Money, the heart and soul of WFJ. T-Money's real name is Timothy, and rightly so. Like the Timothy of the Bible, he has the heart of a pastor, and WFJ is his flock.
WFJ is a Christian organization located out of Langley, SC, aka, The Valley. Most of the wrestlers are from the valley, but quite a few are not. Some are from Charleston, Columbia, Newberry, and Augusta, GA. With WFJ being a Christian ministry, you might expect that all the wrestlers are perfect people and have no problems. Most churches would accept no less. WFJ accepts the least of the least. How do you think I got in?
Let me tell you where I was when I found WFJ. I was an outcast. I was on the back end of two divorces. One was from my wife of 13 years, who just didn't want to be married anymore. The second was from my church where I had pastored for almost 4 years. I hadn't done anything wrong. Even after the news of my separation and impending divorce, they allowed me to stay and minister there. They were very supportive on the surface, but then one person began stirring stuff, then another, then another...
Under intense pressure I resigned my pastorate. My colleagues and friends told me that I was never to step back into the pulpit again. All my life and education had been in preparation for the ministry. What was I going to do now?
Add to all of that the reality that I could not go out in my community without seeing people whispering behind my back and pointing. As a youngster I wanted to be popular, but this was not at all what I had imagined popularity to be like. I couldn't even register my children at school without catching the whisperers behind me. As a pastor I had spoken at two PTA meetings in front of hundreds of parents and teachers. Now I was a social outcast in my children's school. I was worried what this might do to them. Fortunately, the Lord protected them from any comments or other such nonsense. It was truly one of the worse times in my life.
Fast forward. It is November of 2004. I am happily re-married and working for the cable company. In my email box is a note inviting me to check out WFJ's website. The email was from The "B" Bryon James, who is now a treasured friend. I love wrestling. I have since I was a kid. I love Jesus and the ministry. Before I left my church, we were going to pit me and an ex-ECW wrestler who was a member of our church and a good friend in an exhibition match upon reaching 200 in Sunday School. We even had Nikita Koloff come to our church www.nikitakoloff.com so the fire was hot for me in terms of mixing ministry and wrestling.
So I got Timothy's phone number off the website and sitting in the driveway of a "no-show" cable installation, I called him. He invited me to come to practice and listened as I shared my "shameful" tale. When I finished, I waited for him to say, "Well, Todd, your story is most unfortunate, and while Jesus loves you, there's just no way we could dirty ourselves by allowing you into our ministry." Quite the opposite, he said, "We aren't worried about that. Just come on and be a part of us."
Almost a year later, I have discovered over and over again that this is how Timothy is. He has a beautiful wife and family. He could have a better life financially than what he has. Yet he has chosen to work around WFJ. None of us are paid, by the way. In fact, Timothy has invested quite a chunk of his personal finances into this ministry.
Timothy is one of those rare people who just make you feel better having been around him. He is a builder of people. He takes time, lots of time, to minister to all of us. He never complains and never asks for anything in return. When I broke my arm, he called me every day for nearly a month to check on me. Never once did he say, "Well so much for your wrestling career." Instead he found other ways to use my gifts. Sometimes I get to offer the gospel message and invitiation at our shows, or lead Bible studies at practice. WFJ has given me back the ministry, but more importantly, WFJ has shown me grace that can only come from the Lord. God used Timothy to give a confused, beaten, burnt out case another chance and rebuild me into a much more gracious and accepting man of God than I ever was.
T-Money, you da man! The best is yet to come!