Jay Barrios is Fighting for a Brighter Future
12/30/2016 11:31AM ● Published by David Norby
Jay Barrios and Paloma
Today, Barrios is a pastor and the CEO of InspiredWarrior, an organization—open to everyone regardless of religion, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity or gender—that helps people build strength, self-confidence and community through martial arts, physical fitness, and emotional and spiritual wellness.
It wasn’t an easy path. Along the way, Barrios served in the army and later was a police officer, where he says he was a good cop, but was also “all cop,” and nearly lost his family as a result. He knew he needed to change, but as someone who only knew how to be a cop and a soldier, he found himself in a deep personal crisis.
“One day, I saw a church off the highway and wandered in,” Barrios says. “It got me praying. I’d always felt called to help change people’s lives, but I wasn’t doing that as a cop. I thought back to the man who’d mentored me and the impact he’d had on my life, and I knew what I had to do.”
Divine intervention restored his family, and with his wife’s support he set out to create InspiredWarrior, which—after a lot of hard and humbling work—opened in 2011. Nowadays, he works with 20-30 kids and adults at any given time, with an all-volunteer staff of teachers and trainers.
Why martial arts? It certainly isn’t about teaching kids to hurt each other. “My mentor told me hurting people is easy, and that if I wanted to truly be great, I first needed to learn how to heal people,” Barrios says. “Martial arts attracts people, and the more you train, the more reverence you gain for human life and your fellow man.”
And why the gospel? When Barrios prayed in that church off the highway, he said if God could restore his family, he would teach and preach God’s word to anyone who wanted to hear it, while loving and respecting anyone who did not.
“Our culture is riddled by the social decay of isolation, depression, violence, obesity and substance abuse, and InspiredWarrior was created to rise to this challenge,” Barrios says. “Our hope is for everyone to experience life in all its fullness and to see the promises of God fulfilled in their lives.”