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Strength Team to pump up crowds

Turns out, Hulk Hogan’s yellow tank top wasn’t really all that strong.

But a 500-page phone book is. It takes a pretty tough man to rip through one of those, or to crack a baseball bat between his elbows, or split a stack of bricks with a karate chop, or roll up a skillet like a newspaper.

In fact, it takes a whole team of strong men — a Strength Team — and they’ll be at Clear Branch Baptist Church every night the rest of this week to bend the laws of physics with their hands and spread the message of Christ with their testimonies.

“Basically, they come in and break a bunch of stuff with amazing feats of strength,” said Clear Branch Student Minister Crystal Stringer. “They use their unique talents to reach people with a gospel message.”

A pair of muscled performers from the Texas-based Strength Team will perform different shows from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the church today and again Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Christian athletes will deliver the message during the Sunday service at 10:30 a.m.

Admission to all the performances is free, and a meal will be served following the Sunday morning service. Anyone and everyone, of any age, is invited.

“It’s not just for youth — we’re trying to reach families,” Stringer said. “Come any night, or every night.”

The Strength Team is a group of former professional athletes who perform at churches and in schools, ministering with a Christian message at church shows and delivering character-building addresses at schools, hitting on topics like anti-bullying, peer pressure and academics. The group was formed by the late Mike Hagen, a former Seattle Seahawk.   

The two Strength Team members coming to Lincoln County are Warren Alford, a bodybuilding champion at Georgia Southeastern and now a senior pastor at his church in Americus, Georgia; and Clarence Lee, a national champion football player at Florida State University who can leg press a ton and delivers motivational messages across the country.

While they’re here, Alford and Lee will also be performing several assemblies at schools in Brookhaven and Lincoln County.

“We don’t cross the line of church and state in the schools — it’s more of an educational but motivational message,” said Strength Team Vice President Mark Rodriguez. “The message at church is about each team member’s journey, and how their faith has been able to give them strength. We talk about a relationship with Jesus Christ and the strength to be able to overcome all adversity.”

The Strength Team will be performing in schools, and youth will be amazed to see steel flexing and stone flying apart. But it is not really a youth event, Rodriguez said.

“I have been to events where the loudest crowd is the senior adults,” he said. “Anybody and everybody loves sporting events, and that’s kind of what this is, an entertaining sporting event — but the cool part is there’s a powerful message. Kids, youth, adults and older people are all captivated. We welcome all ages.”

Clear Branch pastor Wayne Moak is hoping all ages will come through the doors at his church this week.

“We thought the Strength Team would be a unique way of reaching out to families — we want to see and help some families who have never been part of the church, to show them this church loves and cares for them,” he said. “It’s just about sharing the good news of Christ that changes lives.”