Praying the "sinner's prayer"--"all you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart and he will"--Apocalypse then gave the altar call--or "ring call," if you will. Audience members who accepted Jesus were invited down front to speak privately and pray with a wrestler about their life-altering decision. Three bewildered-looking teenage girls stepped forward. "Man, that's awesome," Apocalypse said. "Everybody give 'em a hand!"

The matches themselves aren't very different from the WWF. While anarchic violence reigns at some point in each match, all pro wrestling is a morality play. The crowd is there to watch the good guys punish the bad guys, and most often they go home happy. In Christian wrestling, the bad guys are just as liable to end the night testifying as the good guys. It's a close copy of the real thing, but the moral takes precedence over the characters.

"Basically, every show tells a story," says Vaughn. "We present a gospel message through wrestling and scripture. For example, a wrestler may lose the battle in the ring one night. That's the way it is in real life--we lose battles. But with Jesus Christ as our lord and savior, we can come back and win the war! Wrestling is so popular with kids these days," he added, "it's a great way to draw them to Jesus."

The New York Nightmare
The New York
Of the federation's 15 wrestlers, five are ordained ministers and several teach Sunday school. Many of their names are inspired by the Bible--Jonah, Angel, Martyr. "Each guy picks his own name," said Vaughn. "Some aren't biblical at all, like Big Tim Storm or The New York Nightmare, but suit the wrestler's personality. I chose Jesus Freak because I reckoned there's a lot of freaks out there, and if I'm going to be a freak for anything, I'm going to be a freak for Jesus."

When they're not on the road, the wrestlers train three nights a week at a warehouse in the Fort Worth area and attend a mandatory weekly Bible study. The punishing nature of the ministry takes a toll; the troupe took July off to heal. "We were so banged up," Vaughn said. "We had neck problems, back problems, shoulder problems. Broken noses and broken ribs. In Arizona, Jonah broke his wrist. Fortunately, we have a chiropractor in Dallas who treats us for free. That's his ministry to us."

"The Bible talks about what is a reasonable sacrifice," Big Tim Storm, a.k.a. Tim Scoggins, explained as he sipped bottled water after the show. "We believe the physical sacrifices we make are reasonable. I've had torn ACLs, no cartilage in my knee. I've had concussions. You name it. But that's what this is all about. We accept the risks, just as you accept the risk every time you cross the street."

Scoggins estimates that he flies through the air and lands flat on his back roughly 30 times a night. "When we step into the ring, we have to give it 100 percent," he said, "because our commitment, our sacrifice, has to be pure. And if just one person accepts Jesus, then it's all worth it."

The visit to Lititz drew roughly 60 to 100 attendees, mostly church kids and their friends. The next stop was the 15th annual Kingdom Bound Christian Festival, at Six Flags in Darien Center, New York, which draws some 60,000 faithful. It was easily the CWF's biggest event so far.

Vaughn says the CWF has been on a roll since last November, when the group was featured on CBS News Sunday Morning. The next day, Vaughn received a flood of calls and emails, including one from a realtor in Florida. "He said, `I'm a Christian, and I hate wrestling,'" Vaughn recalled, "`but, man, what you guys are doing is unique. I saw that you're pulling a U-Haul, and I feel the Lord is leading me to help you guys out. Go pick out a trailer, and I'll buy it for you.' So we picked out the perfect trailer, and he sent us a check."

As Vaughn sees it, the future is in God's hands. "Basically, we are surviving on no budget," he said. "We don't have an athletic shoe company sponsoring us. But somehow we manage to pay our bills every month. God continues to bless us, sending us people willing to help."

"Of course, all this could end tomorrow," he said. "And if so, it's been a great run. We've seen hundreds of people get saved. But as long as the Lord continues to support us, and we're willing and able, we'll go wherever He leads us.

"We kind of think of ourselves in terms of Jesus' disciples--just ordinary men who did extraordinary things."

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