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Interview with Illusionist Brock Gill

On Christmas Eve, 2005,  world renowned illusionist Brock Gill appeared in a Discovery Channel special Miracles of Jesus. The program is based on the book Miracles of Jesus by Michael Symmons Roberts and the BBC special by the same name. Brock's appearance was not an attempt to disprove the miracles but instead to prove why Jesus could not have been dealing in trickery, deception or illusion. 
During my recent conversation with Gill he told me, "They (Discovery Channel) were looking for a Christian illusionist (to host the program) and somehow they found me. They wanted someone who had a faith background and an idea of what scripture says about Jesus. They asked me if I would be interested in doing it and I thought it sounded like a good idea. I just wanted to make sure I knew where the show was going to go. I didn't want it to be one of those things where they used me to tear apart the idea of Jesus being a miracle worker. I didn't hear from them for awhile and then all of a sudden they called me and said let's do it. The next thing I knew I was on a plane going to Malta and we started filming."
For some, it would seem that having an illusionist trying to prove or disprove miracles is a conflict of interest. When you combine that with Gill's faith, you really begin to wonder at the juxtaposition. The illusionist however had his own reasons for accepting the challenge, "I'm the kind of person that always asks why. I'm a little bit rebellious. I'm always trying to think through things a little more deeply and not just take the face value meaning of things so I was up for the challenge of seeing if I could recreate the miracles of Jesus and to see if it could be done. I thought of certain things like that in the past and this gave me a chance to prove it to myself and to prove it to the world. Without the power of technology and some of the perks we have in this century there is no way Jesus could have done anything through the art of illusion. What he had to be doing was miracles."
Gill said he tried to be as objective as possible, "I said I want to put my faith and beliefs on the shelf for a few minutes. I want to really investigate what the truth is behind this man called Jesus that I have devoted my life to. It strengthened me." 
In addition to his faith, the opportunity held a personal attraction for Gill because he had the opportunity to travel to Israel for the first time and visit some of the spots where Jesus stood, spoke, taught and performed miracles. "Once I was able to go to those spots, stand where Jesus stood and take it all in it just blew me away. It just brought it (the Bible) to life. When I read the scripture that describes (Jesus and his disciples) getting into the boat and going across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, I can picture where that is, what it looked like and what it felt like. It is really cool to have that experience behind me." 
Some of the other locations included Malta, Florida and Texas (and no you did not misread your Bible--Jesus was not on the beach in any of those places!). Malta was used as a location because the film crew used a special effects stage at the Mediterranean Film Studio. It was comprised of a big boat and a huge tank of water. Gill says, "It looks like you are in the middle of the ocean. They made an artificial storm there that was unbelievable. I calmed the storm. We pulled the cameras back and we show a wide angle view of how I did it. We expose how I did it." 
There may still be skeptics in some close-minded Christian circles who believe that it is a heresy for a Christian to perform as an illusionist, however, if they are out there, Gill hasn't run into too many of them. 
Gill takes great care during his performances and in his discussions with media to ensure that people understand that he is working with illusions and not trying to draw upon some supernatural or mystic power. He indicated to me that another reason for doing so is so that any children in his audience do not attempt to replicate his illusions and end up with tragic consequences.
Perhaps the most ringing endorsement for his chosen career and God-appointed ministry comes from the highly visible Evangelist /Author Luis Palau who said, "The Discovery Channel series The Miracles of Jesus featuring our friend and colleague Brock Gill, is a wonderful way to enter into discussion and dialogue with friends who have yet to experience a relationship with Christ. The question of whether Jesus actually performed miracles is examined in a respectful, positive way. In our society today simply getting people to think about who Jesus was can be an important first step. I encourage pastors and leaders to alert their congregations to this great opportunity."
This amazing illusionist has shared the stage with top drawer rockers, worship bands, rappers, actors, Christian Hosoi (ask your kids), Corey Martinez (ask them again!) as well as evangelists like Franklin Graham and Luis Palau.
"I have been with a lot of different people. It has been good to see the body of Christ working in all the different capacities. We work with people who are singers, musicians, involved in extreme sports, athletes, painters, just about anything.
Come on 'fess up, Gill, do you have a favorite miracle? "That is a tough question. I have had a couple of people ask me that. I don't know what the answer is because there are just so many of them. They just blow me away. Walking on water is just unbelievable if you really take that all in and realize what that means. Walking on water was incredible. Healing a blind person also just blows me away. Taking a person who is born blind or a person who has never walked before and totally healing that person is amazing. If I had to pick one it would probably be walking on water just because it is so far beyond anything that had been seen before. Even with raising the dead it had been done before. The widow's son at Nain, Jesus raised him from the dead, but Elijah did the same."
Okay, Gill, you fudged on that answer so I will approach this from another angle. What significance do the miracles of Jesus hold in your life?  "That is a good question because before I worked on this project miracles were just like anything else in the Bible. It was there, I believed it but that was it. Now miracles seem to be the number one evidence that Jesus was the son of God. Knowing what I know about creating illusions, my knowledge of hypnosis, psychology and a placebo effect I have learned a lot about different things people have said Jesus could have been using. People called him a magician but knowing what I know and understanding the miracles of Jesus it just proves that he really was the son of God. Now as I read scripture and I read about miracles they pop out of the pages. It just keeps bringing things to life. A miracle is like the finger that points to Jesus as the Messiah."
Gill wants you to know this isn't just about entertainment by a guy who happens to be a Christian. "What we do is super evangelistic in a very unique way without a doubt they will hear a very clear gospel presentation that is guaranteed to get their attention and is guaranteed to make them think about their own spiritual life."
Television and mainstream venues have all embraced Gill and his­dare we say it?­bag of tricks. He revels in the larger audience not because it attracts attention to him but as he said, "When there are more people then there are more people hearing the message."

By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 


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