My Story- The Birth of HIS World Christian Martial Arts
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to have my own Martial Arts School. I loved everything about the martial arts. I watched it on tv, rented kung fu movies from the video store, read books and magazines, I couldn’t get enough. I started formal training in 1982. I spent the next decade and a half taking lessons, training at different schools, traveling to seminars, but regardless of how much I learned, there was always something missing.
As a child, I grew up in church. I went to Sunday School, Kids Church, VBS, if they had it, I was there. Then, when I was around twelve years old, my parents stopped going to church and stopped making me go, so I quit going.
Now this is where most people would start blaming their parents for their ruined life, but that is a crock. You have to take responsibility for your own actions. I knew what the Bible said, and I knew what was right and wrong in the eyes of God and the law. I chose to not follow those rules.
I spent the next quarter of a century living for myself. I did what made me feel good and it didn’t matter who I stepped on or hurt as long as I was happy. The problem was, I was chasing happiness, I wasn’t really happy. No matter what I smoked or drank, used and shared, I was never happy. It was never enough, there was always something missing.
I met my wife, Cortney, in 1999. In April of 2000, we became a couple. By this time, I had been in and out of jail more times than I can remember, had been to rehab twice, been married and divorced three times, and I had a ten year old son who I had never seen ( considering the state I was in, this might have been better for him), but now things were looking better. With Cortney, I was happier. I had pretty much gotten off of the hard stuff and was settling down. We played at being happy, but there was something missing.
In 2005, she came to me and told me a friend of hers had invited her to church. This Pastor had knocked on her friends door and invited her to come to Sunday morning service, and she went. She liked it and wanted to know if Cortney would go with her. My first thought was, “Oh no! She is going to turn into one of THOSE people!” I decided right then that I wasn’t going to allow her to be brainwashed by the church people, so I went with them (kool how God works, isn’t it?).
As it turns out, the church they were going to was the same church I had gone to as a child. It felt a little weird, but who would remember me after 25 years?
Cortney wanted to check out the nursery before we brought the kids, to make sure it was ok. When we walked in, the lady working in the nursery, Mrs. Caroline, looked up and said, “Gerald Hester! I have been Praying for you for over twenty years! I knew one day you would walk back through that door!”
That is where it started. I met the pastor, Bro. Mike. He seemed like a regular guy, and that was good with me. He told me that they had just gotten back from a mission trip in Mexico, and told me that he hoped I would be going with them next time.
After a year of harassment (joking) I was on a plane to Mexico. I thought, “This will be great. I’ll pass out some Bibles, eat some Mexican food, and everyone will think I’m great. That is when it happened.
On Wednesday morning, I woke up at around 4:30am. I went outside and was sitting on the steps of the Mission Center, and that is when I met the most ancient of Masters, a Warrior who defeated what no man could ever defeat, sin and death. I met Jesus Christ that morning. It wasn’t in a vision or anything like that, it was just a quiet voice in the back of my mind, or more like my soul. He said, “Here you are, in a foreign country, telling people about Me, and you don’t even know Me yourself.” I fell to my knees, right there and started Praying. I begged for His forgiveness. I asked Him to please use me to do His work. I gave myself to Him. I had found what was missing from my life, or more like, what was missing from my life had found me. I cried for the next two days. It was wonderful. I had become so hard hearted, that I had forgotten how to cry.
When I returned home, I told my wife what had happened. Then, we talked about this crazy idea that I had. Bro. Mike had preached on using the talents God has given you to advance His Kingdom. The only real talent I had was a knowledge of Martial Arts. What if we started a Martial Arts class at the church as an outreach program? She said that it sounded good and she was with me. HIS World Christian Martial Arts was born. All of my life, I wanted my own Karate School, and all I had to do was give up that life to Jesus.
Our class just had it’s sixth birthday, and is doing well. Over the six years of operation, we have shared the Gospel with over 500 students. Some have went on to play other sports, some have moved away, but in all of them, a seed was planted. The Seed of Truth, we are Saved by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ.