An Interview with Bruce Chadwick
WHAT ARE ILLUSIONS?
Illusions are all around us. You look into the distance and see a mirage. It looks like water but you know it is not. The football player fakes handing off the football to deceive the players on the opposite team. God created the chameleon that changes color to blend into the background and thwart his predators.
One of the unique categories of illusion is the art of legerdemain, prestidigitation, and sleight-of-hand. This type of illusion is kin to puzzles. Puzzles of course always have rational explanations behind them. In fact a large part of the fun of illusions is trying to figure out how they work! One only has to look at the popularity of illusions today on the television, on cruise ships, in the movies, and on stages worldwide to understand their mass appeal.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ILLUSIONS?
The Bible condemns divination, spiritualism, and other practices of the occult, but it says nothing about illusions. Illusions and sleight-of-hand are an entertainment art form that are full of mystery and intrigue! This gives them universal appeal regardless of language or culture.
HOW DO YOU USE ILLUSIONS TO COMMUNICATE THE GOSPEL?
Illusions generate within people a sense of mystery, excitement, and anticipation. An illusion performance used in conjunction with church-related activities draws both saved and unsaved individuals to those functions who otherwise might never come.
Our programs entertain with fun, laughter, and intrigue. After establishing rapport with our audiences, we use a segment in our programs where we use illusion effects as visual aids and communication tools that parallel and clearly illustrate a verbal presentation of the Gospel.
We then use an altar call and counseling room approach. Sometimes we just use a simple no-pressure commitment card approach to record an individual's response to Christ. This is especially the case when our audiences consist primarily of children and students. With children in particular, it is very important for them to be counseled one-on-one. The cards that are filled out become the property of the church for their use in doing the very important follow-up work that should be done any time a person comes to know Christ. It is the church's responsibility to disciple new believers and get them involved in the ministry of the local church.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
I got interested in illusion effects when I was eight years old. That's a long time to be unemployed!
Kidding aside, I became a Christian when I was nine. Later during early high school, God brought me to a realization that my talents could be used in a remarkable way to reach the lost with the salvation story of Christ. During an unforgettable youth revival weekend at my home church, the Wilshire Park Baptist Church in Midland, Texas, God called me to vocational Christian service.
This call to integrate illusions and ministry has never wavered and was a primary reason God led me to earn my college and seminary degrees. We have literally seen hundreds of individuals come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ since that time.
DO YOU HAVE SPECIAL TRAINING?
Well, I am one of the most educated illusionists around! As my relatives say, "All that schooling and you make a living doing sleight-of-hand?" My college degrees include a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and a Master of Arts degree in Theatre Arts from Baylor University, Waco, Texas. I also hold a Master of Divinity degree from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. My formal education has tremendously influenced our evangelistic ministry and illusion programs. Other than that, the art of illusion is basically a self-taught endeavor. I have been an intense student of the art of illusion since I was a child. Most of my training has come from reading books, challenging myself to think and create, innovate, design, and build most of the illusion apparatus we use in our programs.
WHAT ILLUSIONS DO YOU PERFORM?
Our repertoire of illusion effects is broad and diverse. We use fast-paced music, whimsical volunteer situations, and comedy talk routines to provide variety in our programs. We also perform elegant stage illusions such as sawing a lady in half, the sword box, and even floating a lady in the air!
I am well known in the special effects industry as a designer and fabricator of theatrical special effects. Our 4000 square foot building in Fort Worth provides workshop facilities, rehearsal areas, offices, and warehousing.
The particular effects we present depend upon factors such as audience size, nature of the event, budget, and performance environment. Most of our programs can be presented in fellowship halls, family life centers, and church auditoriums. Also our programs can be self-contained with lights, sound-system, free-standing curtains and scenery.
WHAT TYPES OF CHURCH EVENTS BEST UTILIZE YOUR MINISTRY?
Our programs are designed to enhance various church evangelistic and outreach opportunities. They are great for church-wide fellowships, Upward award night events, Disciple Now programs, and Sunday Schools. We also minister at children's and youth camps, retreats, conferences, Vacation Bible Schools, youth rallies, and so forth.
The centerpiece of our ministry however is our Illusion Ministry Sunday Outreach. This unique one-day event includes presenting our unique lecture demonstration called "Christianity and the New Age Movement" for the Sunday morning Bible study for youth and adults, and then speaking during the morning worship service with a sermon called "Illusions in Life." For the Sunday evening emphasis, we present either our Comedy Sleight-of-Hand Illusion program or our Theatre of Illusion program.
DO YOU CHARGE FOR YOUR SERVICES?
Yep! This ministry is our profession and so yes, we charge for our services. I know, you think we should be able make those pesky monthly bills disappear, right? Well of course it doesn't work that way. We have a fee schedule available upon request. Generally we charge flat fees for our services plus reimbursement for transportation and lodging. We are not trying to get rich except to see the reward of people coming to know Christ.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE MINISTRY GOALS AND NEEDS?
Our opportunities to reach people for Jesus Christ is proportional to our opportunities to minister. Our number one need to accomplish this is prayer support. Please pray for performing opportunities. Pray also that God will continue to give us vision, direction, and clarity to our ministry.
We also need communication support. Our best advertising comes through word of mouth. Please tell your ministers about our ministry. We have literature and other promotional materials that we would be happy to send you, or we can send them directly to the people and organizations you designate. Write, e-mail, or call us and we will direct materials according to your requests.