Strength Team comes to Brewton
Using a podium and pulpit made from cinder blocks, three members of Mike Hagen’s Strength Team wowed a packed house with their feats of strength and message of Jesus Christ at the 21st annual Wild Game Supper Saturday night at Brewton’s First Baptist Church.
Hagen, along with other Strength Team members Andy Gavin and William Green ripped through phone books and a deck of playing cards with ease along with breaking a Louisville Slugger baseball bat over their legs. Other feats of strength including tearing license plate in half, blowing up a hot water balloon, bending a frying pan like a burrito, breaking over 15 bricks at one time and bench-pressing a 300 pound log on top of another member who was sitting on a bed of nails.
But while the feats of strength wowed a standing room only crowd, messages of Jesus Christ were shared including a story at the end from Hagen who also drove three nails into a wood block by using his hand.
“We are not just talking about being religious tonight,” Hagen said. “The real strength of our life is the relationship that we have in our heart with Lord personally.”
Gavin then shared a personal story from his life with the crowd about losing his father.
“The date was Nov. 4, 1979, and it is a date for the history of my family that we will never forget,” Gavin said. “It is a date that almost completely changed my life. It was a Sunday morning and my parents had been married for just over a year. They were not at church this morning. My dad was a drag racer and he was not at the drag strip this Sunday morning, but he was getting ready for a race later on. He had his car—a 1969 emerald green Camaro with his name on the side—in my grandparent’s garage. He was there with my mom and he was working on his car. Then the jack holding up the Camaro malfunctioned and collapsed on my dad.”
The car came slamming down on Gavin’s dad with the frame of the car pinning him between the concrete of the garage floor. His mom called the paramedics and used another jack to lift the car off her husband and begin CPR—all while being nine months pregnant.
“My uncle who just turned 18 panicked and just did not know what to do,” Gavin said. “He took off running and the paramedics came and rushed my dad to the hospital and into surgery. My mom, two days later on Nov. 6, 1979, gave birth to me not knowing what would happen to her husband. I had not idea what had just happened to my family.”
Gavin’s dad would go on and recover with few scars remaining, but realized how close he was to never knowing his earthly father.
“I looked up to my dad and he meant the world to me,” Gavin said. “He loved us and my mom. I wanted to be just like him. He was always nice to people and I grew up wanting to be nice to people and figured if I was nice to people, God would let get into Heaven. So I did the best I could—never smoked, never drank, stayed pure before I got married. I figured doing this would get me a pass into Heaven. Some people think that way. But I realized that the reason my dad was the way he was because in his early 20s, he received the revelation that Jesus Christ died for him. My dad gave his life to Jesus and followed Christ. That is what made my dad do the things he did. So I knew at a young age, I was a sinner. Sitting at church one Sunday, I gave his life to Christ at nine.”
Hagen later shared a story at the end of the programs about rail bridge operator John Griffith. Griffith took his eight-year-old son to work with him one day. The boy poked around the office and asked dozens of questions – just like little boys do.
The bridge Griffith operated stood over the Mississippi River and whenever a ship came, John would open the bridge to allow the ships to pass. While enjoying lunch with his son, he looked at his watch and realized it was time for the Memphis Express train to come and he needed to let the bridge down. He ran back to the office to drop the bridge, but after telling his son to stay where they were having lunch the son did not listen. John looked to the left to make sure all was clear and when he looked to the right, he saw his son climbing around on the gears of the drawbridge. He hurried outside to rescue his son, but just then he heard a fast approaching passenger train, filled with 400 people. He yelled to his son, but the noise of the now clearing ship and the oncoming train made it impossible for the boy to hear him. John realized his horrible dilemma. If he took the time to rescue his son the train would crash killing all aboard, but if he closed the bridge, the boy we be crushed in the gears. John chose to sacrifice his son. After making the decision, the father pulled the lever and closed the bridge. It is said, as the train went by John could see the faces of the passengers, some reading, some even waving, all of them oblivious to the sacrifice that had just been made for them.
John began to weep crying out, “Don’t you people realize that my son was sacrificed for yours?”
“When I was 7, my dad was coming home from work and was hit by a drunk driver going the wrong way on the road after leaving a bar,” Hagen said. “A drunk driver ran my dad off the road. My dad was only 28. After the accident, he came home and he was talking to my grandfather and my dad grabbed his throat and died on our living room floor. To see my dad die, it was painful for me. The toughest thing for me was growing up as a teenager without my dad.”
Hagen went on to say that his mom went on to remarry and married an abusive man who abused Hagen and his sister.
“Even though I went to church, I never knew Christ as my savior,” Hagen said. “I would be like the people on the train and never understand the price that was paid for my price. Our message as the Strength Team is to tell you God has a great plan for your life, but we all have sinned and come short. Christ paid a price for our lives. He knew the price would have to be paid. So April 7, 1981, I gave my heart to the Lord. God knocked on the door of my heart and I opened my heart and asked Him into my heart.”
Hagen would end the program by driving three 16-penny nails into a board with his hand one-by-one to show the price that Jesus paid to die so that we might be able to live.