• Prayer with a Viking?


This afternoon I got to spend about an hour hanging out with Justin “The Viking” Wren over at Steele Creek Church of Charlotte.

He’s a big dude!

He also loves Jesus!

My friend and fellow speaker (as well as fellow Panera Bread-frequenter!) Christian Chapman told me that Justin was coming to their Cross Movement service, which they have every 4th Sunday of the month. Christian and I are both ministers who are HUGE MMA fans, and Christian knows I do MMA art to support Disciple Dojo. So he told me to come by the church around 5pm and he’d introduce me to Justin.

When I got there and found Christian, he took me backstage and introduced me.

Here’s the fun part–as soon as I told Justin what I did, he said “Wait, you’re the guy who’s posted stuff online on the UG right? I’ve got your thread right here on my phone!”

He pulled out his iPhone and opened the link and there was my work!

It turned out he’d been showing my art to someone recently and really liked it!

So we spent about an hour talking about fighting, MMA artwork, Discipleship and what all he had been doing the past year. Justin just got back from traveling around Africa with a Christian ministry speaking and working with remote villages, many of which had never heard the Gospel before.

We talked about Christians in the world of MMA and how for some, what they proclaim with their lips isn’t always evident in their lives. Justin has a desire to be legitimately used by God and to grow in his faith, using his athletic gifting to be an example to others of the transformative power of the Gospel.

In addition to a few signed prints (two of Sakuraba and one of his friend Jon Jones!), I gave him the article I wrote a few years ago on MMA and Christianity called “Ultimate Fighting…Jesus??” as well as links to my other Disciple Dojo resources.

We talked about his nonreligious background and how only recently had he just got a Bible that he actually reads (leather thinline NLT, in case you’re wondering!). He talked about having difficulty making sense of it sometimes so I got to tell him about my DVDs “Bible for the Rest of Us” and “Revelation: A Guided Tour of the Apocalypse“…which I put together specifically for people like Justin who are wanting to really understand what it is that the Bible is actually teaching and how it doesn’t have to be a big, scary, mysterious book that you only read in daily snippits!

We had a great time and I’ve never met a fighter with such a hunger for God. It was refreshing and exciting and we both felt that God had orchestrated our meeting at just the right time in both of our lives.

As it drew closer to time for the service to start, I asked Justin if I could pray for him. “Man, I was JUST about to ask you if you would!” he said. Christian joined us and I prayed for both of them.

I stuck around to hear Justin give his testimony and it was very well received by those in the congregation. It was funny because, while he never gets nervous before stepping into the cage, he said he gets VERY nervous before speaking! As someone who speaks often in front of people, I can’t relate to that feeling very much…but I’m sure if I ever get the chance to compete in an MMA match (which is on my bucket list!) I’m sure I most definitely will!  haha

I invite all Dojo readers to lift up Justin Wren in your prayers. He’s a phenomenal athlete and a genuinely nice guy with a heart for God and a desire to walk faithfully before him, whether in the cage, the ring or the Congolese jungle (which you can read more about HERE).

And like Bas Rutten, Ricardo Almeida, Georges St. Pierre and Renzo Gracie, he’s also got GREAT taste in art…

Stay tuned to my “JM’s Art of the Dojo” Facebook page over the next few weeks to see the portrait of Justin I’ll be doing. We plan on auctioning it off when I finish, with half the proceeds going to Disciple Dojo and the other half to International Justice Mission. I’m excited to have another great fighter on board and pray that this is just the beginning of great things God may do through both Justin and Disciple Dojo!


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