Still Going Strong!

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by Peter Cozmyk

He’s one of the strongest men in the world. His gym is known all over the world including Australia, Italy, and other areas. Some of the best power lifting teams ever, have trained with him. He has competed in the Tough Man competition. Power lifting trophies line his walls, and he even holds world records in weightlifting. His bulging muscles are not what makes him so strong though. John T. Black Jr. can lift over 700 pounds, but his real strength comes from his walk with God.

Black is the owner of Black’s Health World, located on Lorain Road in Cleveland. He is also the pastor of a church called Jesus Speaks, also located in Cleveland. Reverend Black is constantly witnessing to people all over. He has visited over 30 prisons in six different states. He holds church services in the prisons, lifts weights for them, and gives them a chance to accept Jesus. He hands out Bibles in his gym, and is constantly witnessing to people. He finds that most people are open to the word of God.

"I have more of an opening than ever," said Black. "Most people come here not satisfied, hurting, overweight, anorexia, coming off of alcoholism, coming off of drug addiction, coming out of prison. That’s the kind of people I get. You have to get the spiritual part right or you’ll never stick to the physical part. That’s the way I look at it."

In 1st Timothy 4:8 it says, "For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." John Black knows this all too well. When he was first saved he would read his Bible, pray everyday, and do the things that Christians are supposed to do. But little by little he became what he calls a "Sunday Christian." He wasn’t a full time Christian, but he would do his weekly thing, and go to church on

Sundays. He would make God promises, but he wouldn’t keep them. Slowly, the things of the past which he had been delivered from began to creep back into his life. He was still going to church, but his schedule was full and Sundays were enough for him.

"That to me is the condition of most of America. They want the insurance. Some are maybe a little weaker than others. Some of them only go to church on the holidays and then there’s some that go even every week, but they really don’t have a true relationship," Black said.

In 1982, while in Portland Oregon, Black was squatting with 722 pounds when his knee gave out. All his ligaments were ripped, and he was sent to the hospital where he had to have two surgeries. When he hit the floor, he realized that God was telling him something. Instead of being angry, murmuring, or complaining, he thanked God. That’s when he realized he could use his strength to really minister to people, and he became a pastor.

Black is ready to compete again. He has already broken some records in practice, and after multiple surgeries, and God’s hand, he is back. He’s back with a vision. He wants to see a Christian Life Center built. It would be a place where the entire family could go. There would be basketball, skating rinks, bowling, a gym, a health food restaurant. All of it would be ran by Christians. When the secular world opens a recreation center, the worldly problems follow. Drugs, gangs, and crime are all present, but a Christian run life center would be different, and it would be something that could be fun for anyone. It would get people off the streets. It has already began on a small scale. Black has a gym, and a coffee house. Pool tables and ping pong tables are being put in, but God has given him a vision of something much greater. Anything can be done when Christ is our strength.