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July 13, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 

Nik Wallenda’s Canyon Walk garnered the attention of the nation.  It was watched live on the Discovery Channel by 13 million people.  It was the highest rated live program in the history of the channel.

The details of the walk are generally well known, and were reported by the press and TV with due astonishment.  Wallenda was 1,500 above the canyon and covered the distance of 1,400 feet in 22 minutes, 54 seconds using a 2 inch wire.

My acquaintance with the Wallenda family goes way back to when I was a young Pastor in Salem New Jersey.  The Boy Scouts had a camp in the Adirondack Mountains called Chimney Mountain.  I was asked to spend several weeks there as camp chaplain.  The family could go along and we had our own cabin on the grounds.  I’m not really good at remembering dates, but my daughter Grace was about 12 years old during one of those summers.  The Wallendas had a private camp just down the road from the Scout reservation where they relaxed as a family and practiced.  We would go down and watch them work out.  Nik was born in 1979 so when we were watching the family he was not yet a part of the clan.

What was not reported about this spectacular event is that Nik credited his peace and focus as he walked the wire on June 23 to his Christian faith.  Nik Wallenda grew up in a “Bible-believing, God fearing family.”  He describes himself as a “born-again Christian.”  He understands his ability as a gift from God to be used as a platform to give God glory and honor.

Before every walk Nik and his family join together for a prayer meeting.  He proposed to his wife Emendira on a high wire during a performance in Quebec in 1999 before 25,000 people.  They have three children and they are always with him in his many travels.  The Niagara Falls stunt took six days of preparation when Nik was apart from the family, and that was their longest separation in nine years.

Nik Wallenda always wears a cross on his exploits.  He does not believe he is testing God.  He lives his life as a witness to the gift he believes God has given him.

With all the publicity concerning the Canyon walk I cannot remember any mention of the faith of this young man.  Yet, for Nik, “Faith is the most important part of my life.”  He is not shy in speaking about it.  He wants to be perceived as a just a regular guy.  Friends describe him as lighthearted and loving a good joke.

I am sure that for Nik Wallenda this life is just a preparation for eternity.  Perhaps this is at least one reason the media shies away from identifying the faith of such an outstanding performer in his field.  Nik Wallenda knows what he is doing, and he is doing it for the glory of his God.  He also knows where he is going.  For many this is troubling.  But, let it be said, it’s not God’s fault.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at  END-whs