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Frank Gray

Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Jon Bruney and his wife, Amy, can be seen Thursday on TruTV competing to get their names in the Guinness Book of World Records. Jon will lie under a board of nails while his wife skips rope on the board.

Guinness quest to be pain for pastor

Some years ago Jon Bruney went to a show and saw a man breaking stacks of bricks with his elbows.

Bruney, a strong guy, 5-foot-8-inches and about 260 pounds, decided he could do that, so he gave it a try.

“I ended up in the emergency room,” Bruney says.

What he needed, he realized, was training, so that’s exactly what the pastor at Zion Missionary Church in Fremont did.

Today, 10 years later, he’s still the church pastor, but he also travels around the country putting on strongman shows, doing things like driving a nail into a board with his bare hand, breaking a chain wrapped around his chest, letting his wife drop bowling balls on his stomach from a ladder 8 feet above and tearing phone books in half.

He holds what is purported to be the world record for pulling a semi-rig with a live rock band on it, and does things like tie motorcycles to each arm and then has people try to ride away on the bikes.

His shows are meant to be motivational, and each stunt is supposed to represent a different message – learn to focus, make breakthroughs for yourself, overcome addictions and stand up to pressure.

And he really doesn’t make a dime doing it, he says. Putting on the shows costs more than he gets paid.

“The main reason I do it is the cards, the stories I get about changed lives,” Bruney said. “ ‘If you can do that, I can handle my situation.’ When you see the trail of changed lives, how can you not do it?”

“He was created to do this,” his wife, Amy, said. “He’s a good speaker and he’s strong.”

There is, however, one other thing Bruney would like to accomplish.

He’d like to get his name in the Guinness Book of World Records, something that, whether you know it or not, is difficult and usually expensive to accomplish.

So at 8 p.m. on Thursday on TruTV, a cable channel, Bruney will appear on “Guinness World Records Unleashed,” where Guinness judges are on hand, and try to set a record that – well, I didn’t know they had records like this.

Bruney will lie on the ground with of board of nails on top of him and let his wife skip rope on the board, trying to set a world record for the number of times she skips the rope.

I talked to him about it. There must be some trick to it, I figured.

Yeah, there is a trick. Take the board, with 70 pounds of nails in it (that’s 3,000 nails of equal length) and weighing 125 pounds altogether, let it cover your chest and thighs and let your wife jump rope on you, but be sure to exhale just a bit each time she lands on the board to absorb some of the impact.

Simple, right?

“It is really dangerous,” Bruney said.

And you can’t practice it, Amy Bruney said. You just do it and hope all goes well.

The two have performed the stunt before. On occasion Bruney has been left with bunches of small, bleeding holes on his chest.

If he emerges injured, it wouldn’t be the first time. When his wife drops bowling balls on his stomach, he always places a sheet of glass on his stomach as a target for her, and it always shatters.

On one occasion Bruney ended up getting stabbed in the stomach by a shard of glass.

“It’s not for everybody,” Bruney said of the sort of thing he does.

TruTV is on channel 242 on Dish, channel 246 on direct TV, channel 171 on Comcast Xfinity, and channel 183 on Frontier.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.