Montana Man Uses Wrestling for Ministry

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Shannon Prete, affectionately referred to as a “wrestle-pedia” by his friends, uses his love for wrestling and his love for God to minister to people in his community. But he must overcome a few challenges to make that work.

Prete, part of Imagine, a Christian Reformed faith community in Bozeman, Mont., volunteers approximately 24 hours a week in helping with school or nonprofit activities. Prete also happens to have cerebral palsy and is legally blind.

Shannon Prete (left) with friend John Ricker:
“What challenges am I using as an excuse to not do what God says?”

Prete believes that God uses his physical challenges as a way of breaking down barriers.

“I believe that I’m allowed to be in the [physical] position I’m in so that I may be more approachable,” said Prete.

Those whose lives he has touched see beyond his physical limitations. “The wit, humor and smiles from Shannon are non-stop. . . . He’s not handicapped. We don’t see him that way at all,” said John Ricker, the father of two high school wrestlers whom Prete has befriended.

One of the ways Prete helps out is as a team host during wrestling tournaments. Michael Carpenter, 19, remembers Prete’s support during his high school career. “I’ve had a lot of people supporting me, but it was nice to have someone who had no connection to a wrestling program but he was always there anyway,” said Carpenter. “Most of the other people were connected by family or they had to be there. He did everything he could to be at every wresting tournament that I was at. That’s pretty significant to me.”

Prete sees obstacles as challenges to be met. “What challenges am I using as an excuse to not do what God says? Maybe I’m tired or can’t find a ride. We can always find ways to not do what God says,” he said. “If you’re going to talk about overcoming challenges, it’s that. What is more important to you than the Lord? Being courageous has nothing to do with not being afraid. It’s what you do when you are.”

About the Author

Sarah Boonstra is the Banner's regional news correspondent for classes Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone.

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