November 28, 2004
The Million Dollar MinisterTed Dibiase has found a rewarding life in the church
By FRANK ZICARELLI - Toronto Sun
The self-styled Million Dollar Man has become a humbled man. And to hear Ted DiBiase tell it, he has become a better person for the experience.
Known to millions of wrestling fans around the world as the rule-breaking Million Dollar Man during his heyday, DiBiase is a man of the cloth, a minister who is at ease with himself and with his lot in his new life.
It is a life of meaning and of imparting DiBiase's story to those who would once jeer/cheer his every villainous move inside the squared circle.
"I've had everything the world has to offer,'' DiBiase said last night as he shared his testimony at Rhema Christian Ministries to help raise money for an orphanage in the Dominican Republic.
"I've been famous. I've made money, ridden in lear jets and limousines. I've wrestled in front of 80,000 people and I've had my likeness made into toys and been on video games.
"I've had all that stuff. The big house with a pool in the backyard. Despite all that stuff, I was miserable."
At first, it's hard not to cast a curious eye at DiBiase.
Afterall, this is a guy best known as a main event wrestler, one of the greatest showmen and practitioners wrestling has known who would often be accompanied by his sidekick Virgil.
But then you realize that the Ted DiBiase of the wrestling world of make believe is a real-life minister. He is genuine when he talks about his love of Christ and his evolution.
"If I could line up all my friends in the wrestling business ... they'd say the same thing in a different way,'' he said. "Been there, done that. I've had that t-shirt and I wore it out."
He became an ordained minister five years ago. An evangelist and motivational speaker, DiBiase remembers the first time he addressed a church gathering.
"There was a curiosity among the people because at that time I was still wrestling,'' he said. "You could almost hear the people say what's that jerk doing up there.
"They then would see the persona on TV and when they saw me in person they knew how transparent I was. Suddenly, they knew I was for real and I was able to make an even greater impact."
Pastors from Africa and India have asked DiBiase to share his life stories and spread the gospel of Christ. Ultimately, DiBiase, 50, would like to run his own ministry.
He has spoken to people in many different cities, from crack addicts to prostitutes. His message remains constant -- salvation in Jesus.
"When I see people come forward and surrender, I see myself,'' DiBiase said. "The greatest pleasure is seeing the response and knowing that you had a part in changing someone's life. Christ restored me, restored my marriage and changed my whole way of thinking."
DiBiase's father -- Iron Mike DiBiase -- died in the ring. DiBiase's mother turned to alcohol when she slipped into a depression and life turned hollow, even though life seemed to be nirvana with all DiBiase's fame.
"Ministry is a calling,'' DiBiase said. "I didn't just wake up one day and said I wanted to be a minister. This is the last thing I ever thought. It evolved to the point where God was telling me to step out (of wrestling).
"I was raised in a Christian home and in a way I have returned to God."