Faith-based body-building group to perform at local church

Published 1:11 am Friday, January 8, 2010

NATCHEZ — A deep impact is about to be felt throughout Natchez tonight and Saturday at Highland Baptist Church.

The depth of this impact, however, will not be measured by how big a crater is left over, but by how much the lives of those in attendance are touched by the event.

Team Impact, a faith-based group of body-builders, will be putting on show at Highland Baptist at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday, and 6 p.m. Sunday. The group will also perform for the students at Adams County Christian School during school hours today. The event at Highland Baptist is free to the public.

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Highland Baptist member Bruce McCall, who is helping to organize the event, said a previous experience with Team Impact is what led to him recommending that they book the group.

“Five years ago, I took my kid to see a group of them at the city auditorium,” McCall said. “I had never heard of them before, but you could see how well they drew kids in.”

“Impact” is the name of the game for these bodybuilders, as they plan to demonstrate amazing feats of strength, including breaking blocks, bending bars, rolling up frying pans, ripping phone books and blowing up hot water bottles until they burst like a balloon.

However, the audience will be getting much more than just extraordinary displays of strength, McCall said.

“They have a good gospel message to go along with it all,” he said. “A lot of people who wouldn’t normally go to church went to see the event when it came five years ago.”

And it’s exactly that kind of vision that’s behind not only this event, but also every other event that Highland Baptist puts on, McCall said.

“(Our) motto is to lure people in and hit them over the head with Jesus,” McCall said. “We have a vision of having ministry events that reach out to people who wouldn’t normally go to church.”

Southerland said his church’s vision of putting on numerous Christ-centered events comes from a belief that the church needs to try new things in order to reach people in the 21st century.

“A lot of people have an aversion to traditional, go-sit-down church,” Southerland said. “We’re trying to bring Jesus to the culture. We’re not your traditional Southern Baptist church as far as that goes — we kind of think outside the box.

“I think Jesus was an outside-the-box thinker. We don’t claim to be like Jesus, but we’re trying to think like him.”

Team Impact members include former NFL players, champion power lifters and former WWE wrestlers. It’s these kinds of faces that make the event attractive to a younger audience, McCall said.

“It’s stuff that kids and teenagers are interested in. They’re little guys wanting to be grown, so they’re running around wrestling and beating each other up.”

Leland Rymer, another Highland Baptist member, is coordinating the Team Impact event. He said Southerland delegates event coordination to his congregation, which helps to edify members of the church.

“It’s good for team-building,” Rymer said. “It builds your faith and encourages you. It makes your church exciting and allows you to build bonds within the congregation.”

Said Southerland, “My job is vision-casting. I cast the vision and they catch it.”