Lead Stories


Issue: "Locking up the big guns," Aug. 12, 2000

As Republicans met in Philadelphia last week, an example of compassionate conservatism in action was just two miles away at the Bethel Temple Community Bible Church in the city's drug-ridden Kensington neighborhood: Nimo Colon, a 42-year-old paraplegic weightlifter, introduces neighborhood men to the Bible through a community weightlifting center called "The Lord's Gym." Hosting roughly 200 men a week, the gym charges a unique fee: a promise to attend church Bible studies. Mr. Colon's own spiritual workout began 19 years ago after he accidentally shot himself through the spine while on drugs. Paralyzed, he succumbed to bitterness and sold drugs on the street until God turned his life around six years later. David "Coz" Crosscomb exchanged his white collar for blue jeans when he left his job as an Australian accountant four years ago to become Bethel Temple's "economic development director." His mission? "To create a community that people desire to live in again." He has renovated six abandoned homes and developed extracurricular classes for disadvantaged public-school students. To date, 12 public schools have requested permission to enroll 180 students in once-a-week classes. Abandoned at age 5 by his heroin-using, HIV-positive father, Ralph Rosario watched as his mother became addicted to cocaine and quit her job, leaving the family homeless. Through faith in Christ, Mr. Rosario stayed clean of cocaine and enrolled in the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Now 22, he uses donated equipment to run a church audio-video studio where he shares both his skills and his life lessons with struggling high-school students.

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