2008: STEVE’S GYM
The OEW ministry is not just about counseling and seminars but on trips, exercising by running, cycling, not exactly easy or safe in Asia and meeting people in gymnasiums such as Steve’s Gym here in Bangalore, India). Move over Arnie- for Jesus!
Steve’s Gym, Coxtown, Bangalore, India is a not exactly high tech. Some weights are the old fixed standing type and there are a few computerized running machines T there is no air conditioning, just some fans and a few broken windows to keep you cool. Neither is it exactly ascetic, no plush carpets – just lino. As for the paint – well the gyms support pillars are yellow, red, green and black. I expect his eight other gyms are the same. Yet maybe just the places where Arnie (Schwarzenegger) developed his physique.
Clients are not your beautiful body, hugging designer clothes people; old shorts and tank tops are in abundance and one guy has a terrible growth on his face. Yet having been in sophisticated gyms in Australia and across Asia, there is something very different about this gym. Clients are friendly, talking to each other, smiling and actually helping me in my work out rather than narcissistically posing in mirrors! It feels like a warm, friendly, caring home where you actually matter. Not surprising – for Steve’s Gym is dedicated to Jesus, posters on salvation are around the walls and clients pumping iron have actually been lead to Jesus here! So that’s why the pillars are red – representing the “blood”, green representing growth and creation, yellow representing the new heaven and earth and black representing sin.
Between 2000- 3000 decisions for Christ have been made in his gyms alone. Like Sukhminder, a Sikh, struggling with financial problems, got working out with Manu, a Hindu convert to Jesus. Sukhminder told Manu of his problems who responded with, “lets pray about this.” There was such a wonderful answer to prayer that Sukhminder wanted to know more and was lead to Christ! Zamin, a young Muslim with a similar story was also lead to the Lord. When a Sikh or Muslim comes to Christ it costs them plenty – they could be thrown out of their home or rejected by their community!
Then Sunday it’s all change; the gym is closed. No pumping iron but rather pumping out praise as it is used as a church and Sunday school by the Assemblies of God Church, Coxtown!
Steve, now 42, who runs the gyms with younger brother Caleb Joshua 35, said that, while he is AOG, he lets his other gyms be used by any other church groups for services. “I first had the idea in 1985 while I was working out. Why not use a gym to reach other for Christ. So I did.”
Its truly an incarnational setting – the gym is sacred ever day, as well as on Sunday for church services. He told how the AOG Church in Coxtown grew.
“We got so big that we had to hire a bigger floor above from the owners of the building.” It is not surprising that they have also been lead to Christ by Steven and team!
Sunday I went with the vibrant outreach Power team, sporting “No to drink, drugs, smoking” t-shirts, where they did a presentation at a Church of South India Youth Conference, blowing up hot water bottles, breaking bricks, tearing up phone books (even the girls on the team do this). The results – all the 300 youth rose at the end to consecrate their lives to Jesus! Plans for the future are exciting. Along with brother Caleb Joshua, they want to do the equivalent of having sports chaplains in parks where hundreds of children /adults play soccer and cricket as well as a sports Bible college. So on your next ministry trip in India, when you have put on too much weight from long hours of sitting on planes, talking or ministering and endless eating, then go for a work out at Steve’s gym. It’s an inspiration.
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