A Valdosta church pastor is training to fight in his first MMA competition. But at 44-years old he's not doing it for the title, he's doing it for his church.
Ten years ago, Kelly Barcol moved his family from Kentucky to Valdosta with dreams of opening his own church.
"We came here with just my family. We had no friends, no family in the city, no church support, like a lot of new church plants. So we came and started from scratch with five people," said Barcol.
His church, House of Joy, now has 175 members. Barcol holds Sunday service at Valwood School. The only thing missing is their own building.
And Barcol is going to fight in a Mixed Martial Arts competition to help raise the money. All proceeds from Valdosta's Winter Heat competition will go towards House of Joy.
"I called my friend James Corbett who puts on Winter Heat and Summer Heat in the past, and I asked him and before I could get it out of my mouth he said, 'Let's do it,'" said Barcol.
After four years of getting in shape at Crossfit, and months of training, Barcol will enter the cage on Saturday January 26th to fight.
"I do care about winning or losing, but also in the back of my mind I'm thinking if I give it my best and I still lose, it's still a big win for the church and really for God's kingdom," said Barcol.
Barcol's training partner says after they met, he started attending House of Joy and became inspired by Barcol's passion in the gym and at church.
"I work out with my pastor so why not live by what he's talking about on Sunday's," said Emilliano Kaku.
"It's just been so exciting to see the church unfold and what it's turned into, and I feel like the one thing that we're lacking is that building - not that a structure is anything but to have that central location, we're just so community minded," said Barcol.
The church has purchased 11 acres of land on Park Avenue, and with proceeds from Winter Heat, they're expecting to raise anywhere from $10,000-$20,000 dollars to build the church.
The Winter Heat fight is January 26th at 6 p.m. at Mathis City Auditorium. To get tickets call 229-253-8549. All proceeds go directly to House of Joy.
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