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Champion Power Lifter Weighed Down by Life

World champion power lifter Jonathan Bernor talks about living in victory over addiction and illness. Read Transcript


Reporter: IN 2003,

JONATHAN WAS A NATIONAL

CHAMPION POWERLIFTER, AND

BEFORE THAT HE WAS ONE OF

THE BIGGEST DRUG DEALERS ON

LONG ISLAND.

MONEY, POWER, RESPECT, IS

WHAT MOTIVATED ME TO SELL

DRUGS.

THE WHOLE STREET MENTALITY.

Reporter: JONATHAN'S

PARENTS DIVORCED WHEN HE WAS

YOUNG, WHICH LEFT A GAPING

HOLE IN HIS HEART.

I REMEMBER THE DAY VERY

STRONGLY.

MY MOM AND DAD HAD BEEN

ARGUING, AND MY DAD HAD LEFT

THE HOUSE.

I WAS IN THE UTILITY ROOM

WITH MY DOG.

AND I WAS JUST CRYING AND

WEEPING.

HE DIDN'T COME BACK.

I HAD A RELATIONSHIP WITH

HIM, CONNECTED WITH HIM.

AND WITH HIM NOT IN THE

HOME, IT GREATLY AFFECTED

ME.

Reporter: OTHER KIDS

PICKED ON HIM BECAUSE HIS

FAMILY WAS POOR.

JONATHAN ENVIED THE NICER

TOYS AND CLOTHES OTHER KIDS

HAD.

SO HE DID SOMETHING ABOUT

IT.

I BROKE INTO NEIGHBORHOOD

HOMES, WHEN PEOPLE WERE OUT

FOR WORK, AND WE WOULD TAKE

SOME STUFF.

THAT MADE ME FEEL REAL

EMPOWERED.

AND THEN I STARTED SELLING

DRUGS.

Reporter: JONATHAN TOOK

AN INTEREST IN WEIGHTLIFTING

WHEN ME WAS 14.

HIS NEWFOUND STRENGTH GAVE

HIM CONFIDENCE.

THERE WAS A KID EN THE

NEIGHBORHOOD SINCE I WAS A

LITTLE BOY WHO USED TO PICK

ON ME.

WE WERE IN HIS FRONT YARD

AND HE WAS PICKING ON ME AND

ANOTHER GUY WAS THERE.

I WENT AFTER HIM AND THREW

HIM TO THE GROUND, AND

THAT'S WHEN THINGS STARTED

TO CHANGE, AS FAR AS ME

GETTING PICKED ON.

Reporter: HE ALSO

CONTINUED TO DEAL DRUGS.

HE DROPPED OUT OF HIGH

SCHOOL IN HIS SENIOR YEAR

AND BECAME ONE OF THE TOP

DRUG DEALERS ON THE ISLAND.

I SOLD MARIJUANA,

COCAINE, ECSTASY, STEROIDS.

WE HAD A BIG BURGLARY RING.

I FELT LIKE A MAN.

I FELT LIKE I HAD POWER AND

RESPECT.

Reporter: DURING THIS

TIME, JONATHAN'S MOTHER

BECAME A CHRISTIAN.

SHE TALKED TO HER SON ABOUT

JESUS, BUT NOTHING SHE SAID

OR DID COULD SWAY HIM.

SHE WOULD BRING US TO

CHURCH.

AND SHE CONTINUALLY WAS

POINTING US TO JESUS

CHRIST.

BUT AT THAT POINT IN MY

LIFE, I HAD NO DESIRE TO

TURN TO CHRIST.

I KNEW WHERE TO TURN.

I REFUSED TO TURN.

Reporter: WHILE STILL

IN HIS TEENS, JONATHAN WAS

ARRESTED FOR DEALING.

HE WASN'T SORRY FOR HIS

ACTIONS, BUT HE WAS SORRY

FOR DISAPPOINTING HIS

MOTHER.

MY UNCLE WAS A POLICE

OFFICER AND HE BROUGHT ME

HOME, AND MY MOM WAS JUST

WEEPING.

I FELT REMORSEFUL.

MAYBE A COUPLE OF WEEKS I

CLEANED UP MY ACT, BUT IT

JUST DIDN'T LAST.

Reporter: JONATHAN WAS

PUT ON PROBATION, BUT

INSTEAD OF GIVING UP HIS

DEALING, HE MADE A VOW NEVER

TO GET CAUGHT AGAIN.

HE KNEW WHAT HE WAS: WAS

DOING WAS WRONG, BUT HE

COULDN'T STOP.

I WAS, LIKE, IF I DIE,

I'M GOING TO HELL.

I'M GOING COMPLETELY AGAINST

GOD.

I'M A SINNER.

BUT AT THAT POINT IT WAS NOT

ENOUGH TO MAKE ME BEND AT

THE KNEE.

Reporter: MEANTIME,

JONATHAN CONTINUED

POWERLIFTING AND ENTERED

COMPETITIONS.

I GOT A MAGAZINE, AND IN

THE MAGAZINE, THERE WAS A

FELLOW NAMED MIKE HAUL HALL,

HALL, AND HE WAS THE

STRONGEST GUY, AND HE WAS A

CHRISTIAN.

HE IS SO STRONG AND HE LOVES

GOD.

Reporter: IT GAVE

JONATHAN A NEW PERSPECTIVE

OF CHRISTIANITY.

GOD WAS USING A SPORT

LIKE POWERLIFTING TO KEEP MY

HEART SOFT.

THERE WERE TIMES IN THE GYM

WHEN I WOULD CRY OR I WANTED

TO CRY BECAUSE I FELT LIKE

GOD WAS SAYING, I CREATED

YOU TO DO THIS FOR MY

GLORY.

Reporter: STILL, WASN'T

ENOUGH FOR JONATHAN TO

CHANGE.

BUT A LIFE-THREATENING

INJURY CAUSED HIM TO.

I STARTED DEVELOPING THIS

PAIN IN MY STOMACH.

AND I WENT TO THE HOSPITAL,

AND THEY DID ALL OF THIS

TESTING AND THEY DIAGNOSED

ME WITH PANCREATITIS.

Reporter: THE DIAGNOSIS

WAS NOT GOOD.

WHAT HAPPENS IS YOU'RE

WASTING AWAY.

AND AS YOU'RE WASTING AWAY,

IF YOU CAN'T GET THE PROPER

NUTRITION, YOU SUCCUMB TO

OTHER DISEASES.

Reporter: AFTER THE

DOCTORS EXAMINED JONATHAN,

HE BEGAN TO EXAMINE

HIMSELF.

EVERYTHING THAT I HELD SO

DEAR TO MYSELF, ALL OF THE

POWER AND RESPECT, IT WAS

ONCE SWEET IN MY MOUTH AND

IT STARTED BECOMING REAL

SOUR.

Reporter: NOW FACING

HIS OWN MORALITY, HE CAME TO

A TURNING POINT.

I WAS, LIKE, MY LIFE IS

OVER.

ITS DONE.

I'M GOING TO DIE OR I'M

GOING TO END UP THIS FRAIL,

MAMALNOURISHED GUY IN PAIN

THE REST OF MY LIFE.

IT WAS REALLY HEAVY ON MY

HEART.

I WENT UP TO THE ROOF OF THE

HOSPITAL, AND I REMEMBER

JUST PRAYING.

JESUS, I KNOW YOU'RE REAL.

AND IF I'M GOING TO DIE, AND

I HAVE TO LIVE FOR YOU, AND

I SURRENDERED MY LIFE.

Reporter: HE WAS

RELEASED FROM THE HOSPITAL

AND SENT HOME.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT STUNNED

JONATHAN.

A FEW DAYS HAD PASSED,

AND I'M WAITING FOR THIS

TERRIBLE PAIN IN MY PANCREAS

TO COME BACK.

AND IT'S NOT COMING BACK.

WE WENT TO DINNER, AND I

LOOKED AT MY MOM, AND I

SAID, MOM, I THINK JESUS

HEALED ME OF MY

PANCREATITIS.

AND SHE SAID, SON, I THINK

HE DID.

Reporter: JONATHAN HAS

BEEN PAIN AND SYSTEM-FREE

FOR OVER 10 YEARS.

HE LATER MARRIED NICKY, AND

THEY LIVE WITH THEIR SON,

JOSIAH.

HE USES HIS PLATFORM TO TALK

TO PEOPLE ABOUT JESUS

CHRIST.

I WAS BAD TO THE BONE,

BUT I WAS HEALED.

I WAS GIVEN A NEW HEART WITH

NEW DESIRES.

GOD KNEW IT.

THE SPORT IS USED FOR HIS

GLORY.

IT EXCITES ME.

EMBED THIS VIDEO


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