In his TV and screen roles, tough-guy actor Chuck Norris is the man who comes to the rescue. But away from the cameras the "Walker, Texas Ranger" star knows that even he needs help from a higher source.
"Real men do live for Christ," the former world karate champion told "New Man" magazine. "It is important to make your peace with Christ while the opportunity exists. Life is so fragile that you never know when it's going to be over. It could be over in the blink of an eye, and then it's too late to accept God's gift of salvation."
Raised in church, Norris has been "discovering more and more what his faith in Jesus Christ means" in recent years, according to the actor's pastor, Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas. "When you look beyond the surface, you see a man with very deep beliefs."
Norris' faith was stamped clearly on the 1999 Christmas episode of the "Walker" series he launched in 1993. "Walker has hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide, and you have somebody who's going to pick up the remote control, turn on the TV, and there is Walker talking Jesus," said Norris' second wife, Gena, who helped write the episode.
Shy and unathletic as a child, Norris took up martial arts while serving in Korea with the Air Force. "No one [had] less capacity for martial arts than I had when I started," he said. "I really focused my energies into training and got the rewards for it by being a world champion." He held the Professional World Middleweight Karate Champion's title from 1968 to his retirement in 1974.
Norris told "New Man" that some Christians' fears that martial arts could present a dangerous philosophy were unfounded. "You have Catholics, Jews, Baptists--people of all different backgrounds and faiths--training in the martial arts. It's just to help strengthen you as an individual."
In addition to starring in more than 20 movies and his "Walker" series, Norris has invested a lot in his Kick Drugs Out of America (KDOA) Foundation, created 10 years ago. The martial arts program is now in 37 schools, involving more than 4,000 middle-school students and supported by private funding. "I tell my sponsors, 'You can pay $500 now for a child, or it will be $50,000 a year when we incarcerate them,'" Norris said.