As that seed of John 12:25 I was falling into the ground…
From making All-City honors in high school football, I received a full ride football scholarship to Central Michigan University. But on the field injury after injury broke me, while off the field, at this same time, I began to secretly ponder the life of Jesus. I ultimately committed my life to Christ and it brought about severe and drastic rejection which forced me to tread down an uncharted path. Despite the terrible personal pain of rejection, I viewed it as an insignificant price to pay for the abundant life I had come into. But I surely was dumbfounded by the absolutely baseless and intense hatred I experienced just because I changed from a wild dude into a man who loved Jesus.
It was the summer of my second year in college. I had just come back from a rough football practice that had become almost unbearable due to the hatred of guys on the team. I remember sitting in my dorm room chair contemplating what kind of life awaited me. How could I bear this? Roger Staubauch for the Dallas Cowboys claimed to be a Christian and all he got was acclaim. What was wrong with me? I opened the Bible to John 12:24+25. It made me start wondering about what it really meant to follow Christ. So many empty Christian cliches fill the mouths of insincere people. Could people claim to know Jesus but actually be hypocrites? Would it not be loving to help such people see the error of these ways? Never did I imagine how much “Christians” would attack me for what I saw as personal concern.
His Name is Jesus; “the Suffering Servant” and the eternal life He offers, here and now, compels a man into absolute surrender to live for Him, not a “Christian” image (Is.53). I was scared. How to act and talk, I did not know. How do I deal with “Christians” who have no heart for Jesus? I have never wanted to come across as better than anyone but I must hold to the reality of Jesus even if I am falsely accused and misunderstood. God knows my heart and bears witness to the truth of my life. I am an imperfect vessel preaching a perfect gospel.
Long suffering replaces self-righteousness with love, wisdom and understanding. There is something ‘magical’ about the raw black n’ white dealings of a wicked world against you because of Jesus. No ‘martyr complex’ just fact. Persecution is the only thing that provides true maturity and tests authentic cross-built character. My familiar world of family and friends slowly faded away as I was intrigued into a world of my Father actually willing to reveal to little ol’ me His marvelous mysteries. I was, and am, enchanted with the livingness of the living Jesus.
God has opened up countless doors for my family and I to bring the love of Jesus to so many people. From orphanages to prisons. From city centers to villages devastated by earthquakes, fires and floods, we have been able to touch men with the gospel. We have travelled to many countries over the last thirty years. We feel extremely privileged to have been welcomed into so many, many prisons. It is a dream realized to reach the immense suffering of these forgotten men and women. It is the heart of Jesus to do all that we can and this is very hard work (Mt.25:35ff). I could share multitudes of stories that have broken my heart and molded it with His compassion. But I will only say that God is waiting to powerfully use your life if you will be willing to surrender to the cross of His suffering and believe in the victory of His resurrection.
About Michael Woroniecki:
Life, travels and ministry
I grew up in a strong catholic family of four brothers and one sister. My dad was a stern disciplinarian and my mom a gracious source of love. They were quite committed in raising us to say the rosary every day and go to mass on Sundays. I was an altar boy and Boy Scout for five years. One evening while walking home from a Boy Scout meeting I stopped to view a car accident. A group of kids across the street shot me in the eye with a bb gun. I was 14 yrs. old and it incapacitated me in many ways. I was in the hospital for quite a while; missed school, couldn’t play football, and had to wear huge black glasses. It had a major impact on my future. It further kept me from not fitting in with the crowd. When I was a senior in High School I made a deal with God that I would go with my mom to one of her prayer meetings if He got me All-City honors. He did His part but I did not do mine. After being a “walk-on” my first year because of bad grades, I ended up getting a full-ride scholarship my sophomore year Central Michigan. While in college I gained a reputation as “Crazy War” (from my last name) and because I became quite wild. I lifted 450 lbs. in bench press and ran a 4.5 40 yrd. dash. I was pumped. I walked with a strut, raised hell, got in fights and broke stuff. Basically an idiot.
My deep insecurity and desire to be accepted drove me into a persona quite contrary to my inner man. No one knew how accurately that nickname described my inner turmoil. Despite all my craziness I was actually hiding a Bible under my stereo and contemplating the Person of Jesus. The summer of my sophomore year I attended a Catholic Charismatic Conference with my family. So this was my part of living up to “the deal with God”. None of my buddies had a clue. While at the conference I did some serious contemplation and calculation of my life. I came to a deep realization that I was nothing and IF Jesus is God I really need Him big time. On the Saturday of the conference I was all alone sitting in the stadium. I began to just talk to Jesus and lay it all out.
I remember expressing that I was going to follow Him even if there was no experience to be had. Right then, although I did not understand at that moment what had happened to me, I was “born again” (Jn.3:3ff). I remember lifting up my head and seeing the mural of “Touchdown Jesus” on the N.D. library while in a football stadium. I had to laugh within myself over the seemingly obvious divine destiny, humor and personal touch of the living, loving Father. All I can say is that I MET JESUS. Living water instantly began to flow (Jn.7:37). I received a new quality of life; eternal life (Jn.17:3). It was an experience in the depths of my being that completely changed me forever. But I really had no idea what this meant for the reset of my life. I actually thought about being the first priest who played professional football.
In returning to the football team I found out there would be a huge price to pay. The persecution I received absolutely crushed my ego. One day, after practice I came home and read John 12:24-25. In that one moment everything came into sharp perspective. I realized my life would not be in the limelight but in the cross hairs of God’s light. I spent the rest of my days in college going through a gauntlet of ordained experiences; as the President of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, pr while also preaching on campus, being welcomed into numerous organizations of all denominations. Yet I remained a catholic. The next summer I went to Rome, Italy and had an audience with the Pope while serving as a usher in St. Peter’s Basilica. From there I went to Jerusalem, Israel and followed the footsteps of Jesus. During this time I realized my great need to understand the Scriptures at a much deeper and scholastic level.
I first attended a Charismatic seminary then transferred to Fuller Theological Seminary where I received a Master’s Degree in Theology. I then attended Aquinas College in Grand Rapids where I began my studies to join the Dominican Order to be a priest. Concerned over the influence of my previous non-catholic training it would take several years of screening and personal catholic discipleship before I could be considered a candidate. I decided this would be a waist of time. I was quite distraught by the extreme hypocrisy I saw first hand in every denomination, so-called “Christian” leaders and as a whole in American Christianity. It was all about doctrines, traditions, making money, having an image and “church” or “ministry”. It was as if Jesus was lost amongst it all I met no one who had the vision to serve the living Jesus. Many laughed at me when I said I was not going to be a pastor, priest, preacher or evangelist but a son who goes to the streets with the living Jesus.
Rachel and I met at Central where she was a cheerleader. She put up with my putting our relationship on hold until I completed went to seminary and contemplated the priesthood. For some reason I had always feared marrying someone then finding out they were not who I’d thought. I also had a fear of a contentious woman. So I had to make sure Rachel understood her place as my wife would be as the Scriptures state, a “helpmeet”. We started out quite simply going downtown and to various city events to preach Jesus in Grand Rapids, Michigan after I graduated. I had no examples from whom I could learn to preach the gospel in this modern day. One day a thunderstorm knocked down a large branch on the driveway of our apartment in the ghetto and I made a wooden cross out of it. I began to just carry it downtown and to various events and campuses. I have quite a loud voice and people took notice. Things got out of hand as people became very angry at me and had me arrested for disturbing the peace.
Ultimately we outgrew this one little town and started traveling throughout the States. Enough can not be said for how much God was breaking me over this time and teaching me more and more of His love and wisdom. From state to state and campus to campus, from Mardi Gras to the Super Bowls we have tried so hard to be relevant and personal while holding to the pure uncompromising truth of Jesus. I was and am constantly changing and being shaped like clay in my Father’s hand. Turning away from self-righteousness, religiosity and pride, and surrendering to the Spirit of Jesus. Our main focus became college campuses because there are no people in most American downtown cities. I knew the college lifestyle and felt I could relate to those who were like me and not into playing “church” or being religious.
One by one Rachel and I welcomed six beautiful children into our lives. Each born in a different state and baptized in a different country. We had them at home and continued their schooling at home as well. Never, in over the twenty years of traveling with our family, did we once have to deal with any authorities over public education despite the fact that we were constantly on college campuses. Now that is God. Today they are all God-centered life-giving adults who are well trained in numerous worldly skills, know several languages, are 2nd degree black belts in Tae Kwon Do (which we use in our overseas ministry to prisons) and with an impeccable character reach millions for Christ. Rachel and I have nurtured them not to be robots but life giving individuals whose enthusiasm and work ethic is far beyond anything we could have imagined.
After touring the States back and forth many, many times I decided to ship our converted bus to London to preach the living Jesus (as in contrast to upscale evangelicalism) throughout Europe. It only cost us three thousand dollars at that time and provided a home on wheels. It was extremely difficult maneuvering a huge American bus around tiny streets on the other side of the road. Rachel and I developed with our young children at the time a presentation consisting of skits, dances to the music I write and ways to communicate the gospel without having to know the language of each country we entered. This empowered us to go anywhere and KNOW that these people had received a witness of the living Jesus.
For the next five years we reached every country that was able to be reached by land roads in Europe. We also flew to Russia and then came back and went down into Africa. We were arrested in Casablanca because it is an Islamic state that does not allow Jesus to be preached. They put us in a white van that a frenzied crowd began to rock back and forth, hostile over our signs. They ransacked our tent saying that we were some kind of spies or agents. We faced a military General who destroyed our signs and was furious that we boldly proclaimed Jesus is God. He said we broke Islamic law and he should send us to prison but we believe he was moved in his heart by our sincerity and truth. We were escorted out of the country and made it to Spain in time for the Olympics.
The next summer we ventured through Mexico into Central America where we found extraordinary ministry. We were in TV in San Jose, Costa Rica, TV Managua, Nicargua and in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Guatamala. From there we went to Panama. Then we began to explore Mexico where 3rd world suffering shapes people into being very open to Christ. While in Mexico, about thirteen years ago, we learned of a terrible crime committed by the wife of someone we had once met. We had not been in contact with him for quite some time but due to the fact that he had bought a bus we sold we were drawn into the coverage of this incident. Ultimately it became a difficult time for us as the profiteers and tabloids ridiculed our life in Christ. Certain individuals, whom we had previously shared with and were offended by the gospel, ignored the facts and became fixated and obsessed with this tragedy as an opportunity to malign our ministry in hope of absolving their troubled consciences and nullifying the truth of our witness to them. We never had anything to do with the actual case but our mere association with the couple became a means for false accusations.
South America was a continent we always yearned to minister in but Colombia was a very dangerous country due to kidnappings by the cocaine drug lords of the FARC. Our children actually visited Bogota to “spy out the land” (most were into their late twenties). Soon we shipped a van to Cartagena and started our ventures. The second day we arrived I severed my Achilles tendon and had to be in a wheelchair for the first four months of our travels. It broke me and caused me to touch the multitudes of victims of the drug wars who also were in wheelchairs. We spent the next five years working the harvest throughout Colombia. We met President Uribe and numerous officials and generals who welcomed our presentation. There was one major attempt to kidnap us set up by the Columbian mafia who had a woman infiltrate our family posing as a sincere person seeking Jesus. She feigned a life threatening sickness in need of our care. God thwarted it all by making us aware of the van waiting outside a hospital. We had other incidents involving criminal activity but Colombia was well worth all danger. God’s Spirit opened up for us remarkable doors of ministry to all the prisons, high schools, colleges, cities and other public events. The people of Colombia are a very unique and warm nation. God was working through us and in us to bring Jesus to a largely catholic nation.
We then traveled to Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and beyond. Sometimes we will be driving through road side towns and just stop in the middle of the city, crank out our speakers and lift up Jesus. Crowds will gather, lives are touched, the poor are clothed, the sad will be brought to laughter, the homeless are fed and the living God is exalted. There is no greater joy or privilege on earth. In each of these countries we have varying degrees of effect depending on our time, money and access. We visited Brazil for a huge catholic conference similar to the one where I had first met Jesus. It was so cool to see my son Abraham and I had made it onto various newspapers around the world carrying our huge signs with John 3:3 and John 7:37 while walking down the route for the Papal caravan. In every country it has been obvious that God has allowed us into the worst of the worst prisons. We have faced insurmountable odds yet somehow we have always broken through. Our program of music and skits has become quite developed and extremely effective in communicating Jesus in contrast to religion. Over the years we have preached to people from all walks of life. We have made a special effort to reach out to the poor and homeless as well as the sick, disabled and elderly.
When you deal with as many people and as many varied situations as we do the vulnerability to all kinds of things becomes quite inevitable. We don’t have the time or interest in sitting around and worry about what people say or write about us. We are anchored in the eternal life of Jesus Christ. We of course make mistakes. It’s what humans do. But God promises to redeem them if we stay humble. Jesus and the disciples laid forth lives of extreme conflict but overwhelming victory and joy. Jesus says if you have trouble from someone in one place to go to another place. The world is full of places that have never heard the gospel. We will never run out of places to go. The joy of dealing with hungry souls far out weighs any opposition. We are commanded to forgive and to love our enemies. This is what we do. All I can say the world is soon coming to an end. Heaven and hell are real. Don’t worry about controversy. Worry about finding and following the truth of Jesus before it’s too late. If you want the truth look at our lives and let our web site help you know Jesus. Our lives are an open book. We are open to talk with anyone. This is who we are, not what others say. I have changed a great deal over the years. I am not against any sinner or religion. We work with people from all walks of life and denominations. I think everyone has things that they might do differently if they had them to do over again. Jesus offers everyone a 2nd chance. To learn God’s love is an ever growing quest. Those who understand forgiveness and maturity agree.
These days we are finishing up the countries of South America and prayerfully looking to South Africa and Japan in the near future. We preach the living Jesus and His profound work of the death and joyous resurrection. We do not have any kind of “take” on the gospel other then it’s full counsel (Acts.20:28). We believe that salvation is found though faith in Christ alone, resulting in eternal life (Eph.2:8, Jn.3:3). Our authority is rooted in the Word of God in which I am extremely well-schooled (We use the most accurate version of the bible to the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, the NASB. The NKJV, KJV and NIV are also pretty close. I would not consider any other as reliable.). There is nothing about our lives or ministry that is not a direct reflection of the revelation in God’s Word. We are not supported by any group or organization. We must occasionally work common jobs so everything we need is by our own sweat and out of our own pockets. If you would like to help us God knows we could greatly use it to spread the gospel. The need is immense. While we would greatly appreciate anything from anyone, we will see it as coming from the Lord so He alone will receive our abundant gratitude.. Thank you for reading, Michael Woroniecki
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