Busting cans and baseball bats over your head may seem like a painful way to make a living, but John Jacobs and his Next Generation Power Force team believe it’s a way they can reach young people and make a difference.

Busting cans and baseball bats over your head may seem like a painful way to make a living, but John Jacobs and his Next Generation Power Force team believe it’s a way they can reach young people and make a difference.

They performed at 6 p.m. Sunday in Pittsburg High School auditorium, and will be back there for a public service at 7 p.m. today. The group, brought in by Family Life Assembly of God, will also visit Pittsburg Community Middle School and Central Middle School, Columbus.

“We really do love Kansas and will be here eight or nine times this year,” Jacobs said. “In Kansas, if you have a flat tire, somebody might stop and help you.”

He founded strength ministries in 1976, using feats of strength to communicate positive messages to audiences of all ages. Young people are an important part of his focus, and Jacobs’ teams have performed in more than 20,000 school assemblies over the past 25 years.

“I believe America’s public schools are the greatest mission field on earth,” Jacobs said. “After nearly every school assembly, two or three kids come up to us and say, ‘I’ve decided that I’m not going to take my life’.”

Four team members came with him to Pittsburg — Russ Clear, Jerome King, Jared Rost and Christine Heniman.

The group performed various feats of strength, including breaking cans and baseball bats and blowing up a hot water bottle until it burst.

Clear was handcuffed by Randy Flora of the Frontenac Police Department and broke free.

Flora said he had not known in advance that he would be part of the show.

“They asked if somebody in the audience could put on handcuffs, so I helped out,” Flora said. “I cuffed him up good and tightened the cuffs, but he snapped them. He’s a powerful man. They also asked me if I’d come back Monday and stun him, and if that’s what they really want, I will.”

Clear spoke a little about his life, saying that he grew up in an abusive home.

“When I was 10, they kicked me out of the house,” he said. “I stole food from Dumpsters, and I still have scars on the inside of my legs where the rats bit me.”

He turned to drugs and crime.

“I’ve been shot three times and shot people,” Clear said. “I used dope to feel good, to mask the problems and pain. I joined Hell’s Angels, and I believed that white was right.”

Clear spent 10 years in prison, and said it was in San Quentin that his life was turned around.

“I saw two men, one black and one white, reading a Bible together in the prison yard,” he said. “The first thing I read in the Bible was to love your enemy.”

Clear is fulfilling the prophecy of his grandmother, who was the only family member to visit him in prison and prayed for him continually.

“She told me that when I was 11, she dreamed I would be a preacher,” he said.

Now he spends the entire year traveling the nation with Next Generation Power Force.

“I’ve been doing this over 11 years now,” Clear said as he signed autographs after the performance. “The best thing is when I see a changed life. The biggest miracle isn’t the parting of the Red Sea or Jesus healing the blind — the biggest miracle is a life changed.”