04/10/05 — Muscle and message Power Team hopes to motivate youth in Wayne

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Muscle and message Power Team hopes to motivate youth in Wayne

By Linda Luck
Published in News on April 10, 2005 2:01 AM

Josh Whisneant stands six-feet tall and weighs 275 pounds, with a muscled physique that would turn any woman's head and manners that would impress any girl's mother.

Whisneant is a member of the Next Generation Power Team, a group of body builders who visit churches and schools to deliver a message of inspiration and motivation.

He took time out Friday from lifting weights at Golds Gym to talk about the team and its mission. The team is in the Wayne County area this week, speaking at Whitley Church west of Goldsboro today and visiting several schools over the next three days.

While they cannot by law talk about their own religious beliefs in the schools, team members can and do try to motivate students to make themselves the best people they can be.

Young students are challenged to respect their teachers, pay attention in class, and just be all-around "good kids." Junior-high students are encouraged to make wise choices. For senior-high students, the message is more pointed.

"We tell them the class drunk is not the class hero, but the class zero," Whisneant said. "We tell the girls that true love waits. And we really emphasize the importance of education."

Whisneant has the experiences to back up his words.

An All-American football player in the Lone Star Conference in Texas, he considers his bachelors degrees in exercise science and nutrition and his master's degree in biological mechanics to be far more valuable than his trophies for weight-lifting and football.

He said he wanted to become a teacher and took a job at a school near Dallas. But he got into trouble with school officials for writing biblical passages on the blackboard. When it came time to renew his teaching contract, he chose not to re-sign. Whisneant said he didn't know what he wanted to do after that but that he knew it would have to allow him to share his faith with others.

It was about that time that he met Mike Fontenot and heard about Fontenot's work with the Next Generation Power Team. Fontenot told Whisneant that although team members show off their strength by bending iron, tearing telephone books in half, lifting burning logs and smashing piles of bricks, their real aim is to tell people about the power of Jesus Christ to change lives.

Leaders at Whitley Church, which is located on U.S. 70 west about six miles from Goldsboro, say they expect several hundred young people to attend the 10 a.m. service there today. Joining Whisneant and Fontenot will be the team's founder John Jacobs, Mitch Hodge, who was a finalist in the Mr. America bodybuilding competition, and the newest member of the team, Orestus, a Cuban who is nicknamed Hercules.

Another service featuring the team will be held at the church at 6 p.m. and again on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 7.

During the days, the team will visit several schools: Princeton High, Princeton Middle School, Princeton Elementary School and Rosewood Elementary School on Monday; Goldsboro High, Charles B. Aycock High, Eastern Wayne High and Wayne Community College on Tuesday; and Goldsboro Middle School, Rosewood High, and Norwayne and Rosewood middle schools on Wednesday.