His ring victory, a wrestler named Apocalypse later pointed out, did not really belong to Big Tim, but to the big man upstairs: "We come out here and beat each other up every night for one reason and one reason only," Apocalypse told the crowd. "To spread the good news of Jesus Christ!"
Each show consists of four or five no-holds-barred matches, rife with taunts, hair pulls, and smackdowns, but decorously free of the coarse language and bikini-clad women prevalent in that other professional wrestling organization, the stuff you see on big time cable stations. CWF founder Rob Vaughn got the inspiration for Christian wrestling two years ago. A 31-year-old former arena football coach and an ordained Baptist minister, Vaughn--whose ring name is Jesus Freak--had briefly wrestled on an independent circuit in Texas.
He witnessed things he did not like. "It was a bad scene," says Vaughn. "Guys drinking and smoking pot in the locker room, and everybody out for himself. Nobody wants to get beat or upstaged. There's lots of swearing and extreme violence, people throwing tables and chairs, blood everywhere. Plus, there are half-dressed women parading around. And I thought, does the five-year-old in the front row really need to see all this? It wasn't anything that I, as a Christian, wanted to be a part of anymore."
But just as Vaughn was about to hang up his boots, a minister friend in San Antonio had an idea. "He said, 'Why don't you create a wrestling ministry?'" Vaughn recalled. "After a month of intense prayer, I decided to pursue it."
The ministering is plentifully mixed in with the wrestling. At intermission in Lititz, a wrestler named Jonah spoke about temptation. "What is temptation?" he asked. "You walk into a store and see something you want, but you don't have any money. You take it anyway. That is temptation for material objects! You're at a bar, throwing back some brewskis and people are startin' to like ya because you're mister funny man, dancin' around. That is temptation for social acceptance!"
At the end of the evening, Apocalypse made a distinction between accepting Jesus with your heart and accepting Him with your head. For years, Apocalypse went to church every Sunday and every Wednesday night; he led his youth group. He memorized scripture. "I knew all the right answers, but I didn't know all the right answers," he said. "Like many of you here, I was wearing a mask. And if you're wearing a mask, you have to seriously question whether you're going to heaven or hell if you were to die tonight."