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How an MMA Fighter Found Jesus

Justin Wren shares his testimony as an MMA fighter who fought in a cage and fought drug addiction until he was found by Jesus.

Growing up, Justin faced severe bullying. Then at 13, he was diagnosed with clinical depression, and battled suicidal thoughts. However, he got involved in athletics, which started him on the trajectory to professional cage fighting.

After graduation, I moved to the Olympic Training Center. In a match with a world champion, I ended up in a bad position. He twisted my arm the wrong way and my arm snapped like a twig. I was in terrible pain and my elbow was broken. I began taking painkillers, and I was hooked immediately. I would go through a month’s supply of Oxycontin in a week.

After healing, Justin gained a spot in a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight. But as his career skyrocketed, so did his addictions. He added cocaine and alcohol to his out-of-control narcotics addiction.

Justin’s life hit rock bottom when he was kicked off one of the world’s best fight teams for drug use. But his friend, Jeff, did not give up on him. Jeff invited him to a men’s retreat where Justin experienced real men sharing real stories about their struggles. He knew he needed what they had and he prayed:

“God, I’m a drunk and drug addict. I’m a liar and a cheater. God, I’ve hurt everybody. I don’t want to hurt anybody anymore. I desperately need you in my life.” As I prayed, I felt God lift me up. It felt like something finally released me. I was free. All the emotional chains of depression, all the bondage, just broke and fell away. At the same time, I felt God’s arms envelop me, the way a father bear-hugs his sons. In desperation, I prayed: “God, I’m yours. Is there anything you want me to do? I desire to do your will, not mine.”

Justin suddenly had a strange vision in which he saw people living in a cluster of twig-and-leaf huts with malnourished children. He didn’t know who these people were, but he knew he had to help them. He turned to Isaiah 58:6-12, about God’s heart for the poor and oppressed. The passage started a fire in his heart.

I shared my vision with my mentor, Caleb, and he immediately knew I was describing a Pygmy tribe in the Congo. He told me he was leading a group there and he encouraged me to go with him. I knew I couldn’t help them unless I understood them first, so I lived with them for a year. I slept in a twig-and-leaf hut, ate their food, and suffered from the same diseases.

Recently, after a five-year hiatus, I returned to the MMA cage with the goal of raising money for Fight for the Forgotten, the organization I founded to help serve the Pygmies. The drive to fight is still there, but I’m no longer fighting my inner demons. I’m fighting to fulfill God’s call on my life.

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