His faith is no high-wire act
nNik Wallenda will give his testimony at the Worship Center next weekend. BY JOAN KERN, Correspondent
Last June, Nik Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a high wire.
This June, he plans to walk across the Grand Canyon.
"It's similar in length but about 10 times higher than Niagara," Wallenda said in a recent phone interview from Orlando, Fla., where he was vacationing with his family.
Next weekend, he'll have his feet planted firmly on the ground.
The high-wire artist, who made history as the first person to cross the falls, will speak at the Worship Center, 2384 New Holland Pike, in services at 7 p.m. April 6, and at 9 and 11 a.m. April 7.
Wallenda's visit came about after Tim Keller, the Worship Center's development and operations director, met him at a conference in Florida last year. Keller will interview Wallenda, 34, of Sarasota, Fla., in the services.
"I'll give my testimony," said Wallenda, who appears as a professional speaker about 20 times a year. "It's not staged or planned. I just kind of let it flow and see what happens. Audience members will ask questions."
Wallenda grew up in the Tabernacle Church, in Sarasota, and joined the city's nondenominational Shining Light Bible Church seven years ago.
"I was born and raised in church," he says. "My talent has given me the opportunity to travel around the world and witness to people."
One of the questions people frequently ask him is, "Does God keep me on the wire?"
His answer is a resounding "No."
"I don't consider myself testing God. That's not true or babies wouldn't die, people wouldn't get killed in car accidents. So therefore, I don't believe God keeps me on the wire. I believe God has given me the talent to walk the wire and given me the ability to train very hard to stay on the wire. I do trust in God, but I don't believe he keeps me on the wire. He's given me the ability to stay on the wire.
"God has always been an important part of my life. I was born and raised a believer. He's the one you turn to in trials and tribulations," he says. "I've got that rock I can lean on, even when I don't have trials and tribulations. God's always faithful. He is the most important aspect of my life. I can't imagine life without him."
Keller says he will ask Wallenda about how he trains, physically and mentally, and about his spiritual journey.
"We're eager to have him here, to talk to him about his philosophy to stay on it, never give up and your dreams will come true," Keller says.
Wallenda is a seventh-generation member of the Great Wallendas. He first appeared in a circus when he was 2, dressed as a clown. He began walking the high wire at 4, made his first appearance on the wire at 13 and has performed on it hundreds of times.
His wife, Erendira, is the eighth generation of a circus family.
"She an entertainer and has performed with me," Wallenda says. "I've known her all my life."
The couple has three children.
Wallenda's great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, a native of Germany, joined the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the 1920s. He died in a fall from a "sky walk" in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in March 1978, at age 73.
For more information, go to www.nikwallenda.com.