Cesar Arocha: Making a Positive Impact in our Community
cesar arocha was born in caracas, venezuela. from an early age, he had been mesmerized by superheroes like superman and batman.but in those days, he was not the big, strong man he would later become. on the contrary, arocha describes himself as a skinny little boy. at age 16, arocha began working out in his home town of caracas. today, arocha is a 45 year-old richmond hill resident with a superhero's build, but also with a very generous and compassionate heart.
"i kept working out and eventually i started getting bigger," he said. "as the years went by, i started getting more involved in training and competing as a bodybuilder."
today, cesar arocha is part of a group of men called team impact. members of this group, who all look like superheroes, break bricks with their foreheads, bend steel bars with their bare hands, and blow up hot water bottles until they explode. but what is most important about team impact is the message they share.
what is team impact and what do they do?
arocha explains that team impact is an evangelistic ministry created to get into the schools, wtare normal preachers cannot go.
he says, "we go all across the united states and overseas spreading the gospel of jesus christ. but we are not bible thumpers; we wear workout clothes and use the strength god gave us to break baseball bats and tear phone books in half."
cesar arocha is very passionate as he describes team impact's performance, "we jump off scaffoldings, break bricks and ice with our foreheads and do all kinds of crazy stuff. but the most important aspect of our work is spreading the gospel."
how did cesar arocha come to the united states?
cesar arocha came to the united states in 1992 not long after competing for the "mr. venezuela title" in bodybuilding. he attended the atlanta art institute and graduated as a graphic artist. during that time, cesar met his wife, mary, while she worked at the gym next to the college wtare he worked out.
arocha shares some of his personal life back in venezuela. "i was not involved in church growing up," said arocha. "i didn't feel the need for it; i was so into myself. as long as i was successful and recognized by people, that was all i wanted. i was selfish and prideful; i was getting lots of pats on the back. what did i need god for?"
a promise keeper
married in december 1994, arocha said "when i first saw her (mary), i forgot all about body building and competing." up until then, in the life of cesar everything was perfect, "we dated for one year, and then in 1994 she got breast cancer," said arocha. this was a totally different experience for arocha, who says, "then all of a sudden i have got this girl with this cancer thing. i do not know if it is going to be a problem, i thought, 'why do i have to put up with this,' but it was too late, she had already stolen my heart."
arocha said that they decided to act married, even when people thought that, being the way he was, prideful and self-centered, he would just walk away. cesar and mary spent much of the next seven years around hospitals and in 2000, mary's cancer worsened.
"she was really sick. the doctors said they thought she was not going to make it," said arocha. "i asked god that if he wanted to change my life, why he didn't let me have the cancer. but for me, to be the one lying on the bed, not knowing what was going on would have been too easy. seeing her going through all the pain broke me. it made me realize that i was helpless, that i was not in charge."
expecting a miracle
arocha took his wife home after a day of medical tests. he put her to bed and while he was putting his son joseph to bed, he had the need to call to god. he says that he did not know how to pray, because he had never needed to. but at that time he tried and in a very humble way he said 'god, i don't know how to do this, you've got to help me. will you please take this cancer away from her?'... "but there was no sudden miracle, no angels or holy spirit appearing, it was just quiet. i passed out and went to sleep on the floor."
the next day, cesar and mary went to the doctor's office for the results of her tests. "i remember while we were sitting in the doctor's office - for what seemed like forever for him to come in and talk to us - i turned to mary and told her 'no matter what news comes through that door, no matter what the doctor says, i love you and i am going to love you not matter what.' at that moment the door opened, the doctor walked in and said 'i don't understand this, but there is no cancer.'"
life is about choices
arocha had a friend who had often tried to talk to him about god. he says, "i'd always tell him i have my own god and would turn him away." later that day (after the doctor's appointment), cesar called his friend, "i asked him to come to our house and to make sure to bring his bible."
arocha's message is not exclusive to the youth he speaks to as a member of team impact, but also to his own children as well as other adults. "choices are like bricks, they are the foundation of our lives. the most important part of a building is the foundation; everything else goes on top of that. our choices can either take us down or up towards accomplishing our dreams," he said. "if you make bad choices, when you try to stand up, you are going to come down."
this story has transformed cesar's life and the lives of all the people who are close him and his family. mary arocha has been free of breast cancer since 2000. today the arochas are the parents of eight children and live a very harmonious and peaceful life in richmond hill. their son, c.j., is also a member of team impact and the family spends much of their time inspiring and encouraging others.
for more information about team impact, please visit www.team-impact.com