James deMelo is the founder of James deMelo Ministries International, a worldwide missionary evangelistic organization, but some twenty years ago, he was among the brightest rising stars in the world of bodybuilding. Winner of the 1983 Teen National bodybuilding championships and the runner-up in the 1986 Heavyweight division of the USA championships, deMelo had ‘the look’ to make it to the top, not only in bodybuilding competition but as a marketable commodity.
Born in Brazil, and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, James combined dark haired good looks and a movie-star smile with a physique that had the right combination of muscular size, shape and symmetry. That ‘look’ landed him on the cover of numerous magazines, including Muscle & Fitness and Iron Man.
However, James soon discovered that behind the ‘cover’ there existed a dark side to the world of big time bodybuilding. Coupled with this discovery he experienced a deep personal loss that left him feeling lost and hopeless. But it was at this time of despair that James says he discovered the depth of God’s love and committed his total life to the Lord. Slowly, but ever so surely, God began calling him out of competition and into the ministry where the effects of his pledge to Christ have been far-reaching.
Then, in 1998, James DeMelo was involved in a terrible accident. His car was hit by a semi-truck and the impact left him literally lifeless. There was a paramedic on the scene and when he rushed to the car and checked James’s vitals, he couldn’t feel a pulse, but he began CPR and James’ heart began to beat again. But though James’ life was saved, his injuries were severe. His neck was broken in two places, his back was broken in four places, his shoulder blade and a couple of ribs were broken, and he suffered various other injuries. Miraculously, James was healed from injuries that had been deemed permanent and he regained his health and vigor.
Today, James resides in Carrollton, Texas, with his wife of 17 years, Misty, and their three daughters Alexa, Mikayla, and Elissa and travels extensively throughout the world with the message of hope, love and healing. When he and his family are not in the field, they serve in leadership at Covenant Church.
Oh, and by the way, James also resumed training and he still possesses a strong and shapely physique – but without the use of drugs.
Here, in his own words, is the story of the resurrection and the transformation of James DeMelo.
The Story of James DeMelo’s Miraculous Recovery
"Someone once told me that the only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is the will to try and the faith to believe it is possible."
On April 24, 1998, James DeMelo was in a critical accident. A semi-truck hit his car, and the impact literally left him dead at the scene. There was a paramedic on the corner, and when he rushed to the car and checked James’s vitals, he couldn’t feel a pulse. But he began CPR and James’s heart began to beat again.
Through the grace of God James’ life was saved, but he had broken his neck in two places, his back was broken in four places, his shoulder blade and a couple of ribs were broken, and he suffered various other injuries.
"I wore a halo brace on my head for three months so the neck vertebrae could heal," explains James. "But even after that I had a long way to go in the recovery process. Significant nerve damage remained, and a large portion of my muscle mass had atrophied. I had so much to overcome, and I wasn’t sure I could do it. "But I had to try. Someone once told me that the only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is the will to try and the faith to believe it is possible. At first it was difficult, but I forced myself to go to the gym twice a day. Within the first two weeks I had increased my strength and stamina, and my mobility had greatly improved. I began to see that it was possible to regain my quality of life.
"After three months of consistent workouts, a healthy diet, and nutritional supplements, I lost 16 pounds of fat and regained 11 pounds of lean muscle mass. Eight weeks into the program, I felt so good that I was able to minister for weeks overseas. When I started, I couldn’t do 15 minutes of cardio or play with my daughter for more than a few minutes at a time. I couldn’t lift heavy things or do yard work. I didn’t know if any of these things would ever be possible again. Now I can say to anyone who’s been injured — it is possible to recover, it is possible to regain, and it is possible to reclaim your life.
"My life has been devoted to helping people spiritually, but now I know that I can encourage people physically as well. I’m an example of what can be achieved with dedication, hard work, and God’s help. Already, I’ve been able to motivate those in the gym who watched my metamorphosis. I truly believe that there’s opportunity in the middle of every difficulty, and that the fullness or emptiness of life is measured by the extent to which we feel we have an impact on others. That’s why I’ll keep reaching out, however I can, even if it’s just being able to say, ‘Hey, I did it — so can you.’
"I saw my rehab doctor a year after my accident, and he couldn’t believe the progress I had made. But for me, it wasn’t just the physical changes that have made a difference in my life. While those things are important, and I’m happy that I can run and play with my little girls and teach them soccer and softball, the real peace of mind comes from knowing that my faith can help me overcome any obstacle life throws at me.
"Throughout my life, I’ve found that when you help others reach their dreams, you usually reach yours in the process. So I tell people, ‘You can change your life! Don’t focus on what you are, but on what you can become for Him.’"
We at Natural Champion are thankful to have the opportunity to present the story of James deMelo to our readers and we wish him and his family the very best in their continued ministry.