Fight Pastor -Takepart.com August 2011

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Pugilistic prowess isn't usually synonymous with religion, yet MMA superfan, Brandon Beals, a pastor from Mill Creeks Washington is offering a thoughtful brand of mentorship and counseling for MMA fighters at his Christian Ministry called the Canyon Creek Church.

With around 1000 followers from the MMA community, Mills Creek Church is the first organization of its kind Pastor Beals says it all started when he first committed to Christ in high school and became a pastor 12 years after he finished college, then forming the church.

"Initially the church had nothing to do with martial arts and the melding of the MMA and Christianity slowly evolved.  "I was always a huge fan of MMA, though I am not a fighter myself. About four years ago, I began blogging about it, kind of like an amateur commentator, Id also make fight predictions, then I began introducing it into sermons and things evolved."

Beals says he now  offers guidance and motivation to numerous MMA fighters,  he and his church also pray for them before a big bout. "My key function is to serve as a motivator and mentor to these fighters. I offer spiritual guidance and advice. I have counseled these people about their career and their marriage, some have only recently turned to Christianity and the church is opening up a whole new world to them."  

Still Pastor Beale is keen to assert that the church isn't just about MMA. "The church is not a church of fighters, but I do have a large group of MMA fighters and fans who attend. I think they are like minded people who see appeal in the way I conduct my ministry, it is a different style of church."

"Its not the only niche group involved in the church. The church is open to meeting the needs of everyone. In the last month we have helped people with marriage and career problems and people who are poor and homeless."

Asked about the notion of the bible being anti violent, contrary to the ethos of MMA Beale says it's a matter of interpretation. "Jesus said turn the other cheek and there is no doubt the gospel is ant violence. Though mixed martial arts is a legitimate sport and not simply cold blooded violence. These fighters aren't thugs, they are using this sport to express themselves athletically."

He adds " Fighters aren't thugs, they are usually good guys that are misunderstood..I encourage members of my church to be  "missional", to be humanitarian and develop strong relationships with others."

More on Fight Pastor and Creek Church in Mill Creek, Washington at  http://fightpastor.com/