Team Impact delivers message of hope
By JOHN H. WALKER
Monday, March 25, 2019
An estimated 5,000 school-age youth in the Edgecombe and Nash county area heard a message of hope and saw a display of brute strength last week when West Edgecombe Baptist Church brought Team Impact's program to the community.
The five-day visit by the Coppell, Texas-based evangelistic team is the second time West Edgecombe has brought them to the area.
"In 2003, we did it," said Lisa Prigden, who, along with her husband Wayne, worked closely with the team. "It made such a lasting impression that we decided to do it again."
Team Impact members in Edgecombe County were Chip Minton, Riley Israel and Ron Waterman, who were joined by Manny Cantu, associate pastor at Faith Center Church in Sulphur, Okla.
The strong men took turns tearing through 1,000-page phonebooks, bending half-inch steel rods between their teeth, breaking baseball bats over their thighs and crushing unopened soft drink cans with their hands.
Team Impact held programs nightly at the church and daily at various public and private schools in Edgecombe County and Rocky Mount, including more than 1,000 students in a single session at Edgecombe Community College when the decibel level rose so high, Keihin Auditorium Director Eric Greene could have become worried about glass breakage.
While the show of strength was used primarily to gain the audience's attention, the message delivered in conjunction was clearly designed to offer direction and guidance.
Minton, who ripped the phone book, told the audience that they were the only ones who could derail their dreams.
He told a story on himself in which he used the phrase 'I hope one day' to be a professional athlete.
"The man I told that to said, 'Young man, don't hope. The only thing that can stop you is you'."
He told the students: "Friends are like elevators ... they can take you up or they can take you down."
Minton, who was a two-time Olympian in bobsledding as well as a professional wrestler, told the students to, "Believe in your dreams ... you are all different and you all have different talents. You can make a difference.
"Your dreams never lose value."
Minton also talked to the students about suicide, relating a story about a dark period in his life when those thoughts entered his mind.
"If you have thoughts like that, find someone to talk with, because that (suicide) is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."
Minton told the students he wanted them to remember three things — "You are valuable, you are powerful, you be the best you can be."
And while it was obvious the athletes made an impact on the students, something Israel wrote on his Facebook page showed it was a two-way street: "The past couple of days we (Myself, Chip Minton, Ron Waterman and Manny Cantu) have had the opportunity to speak to close to 5,000 students here in North Carolina about making good choices, holding on to your dreams, anti-bullying, etc. Thanks to the schools (Faith Christian School, New Life Christian Academy, Rocky Mount Academy, Edgecombe County Public Middle Schools, GW Carver Elementary, GW Bullock Elementary and Southwest Edgecombe High) for having us in. We have met some wonderful teachers, administrators, coaches and students here ..."