A What a Witness
I was clicking through You Tube the other night, looking for something interesting to watch besides my favorite sporting programs (usually UGA Dawgs-related). There is a lot of diverse material to be had if you’re willing to go down certain rabbit holes, which most of the time I am not… I found myself clicking on a Christian testimony which popped up on my feed. I don’t know why it popped up, because that was not a rabbit hole I had intentionally gone down before. The presentation was about an hour long and was not rehearsed or well-scripted, but it was honest and sincere. Since then, other testimonies have occasionally shown up as well. Again, I don’t click on too many except a few whose titles are intriguing.
Anyway, the other night one came up called “Steve McQueen’s Christian Testimony.” I’ve always be a huge Steve McQueen fan – from his TV show, “Wanted Dead or Alive”, to driving Yul Brynner crazy with his antics in “The Magnificent Seven” or his role in “The Great Escape”, and of course that greatest of macho man movies, “Bullet”. I never knew Steve McQueen had ever professed to be a Christian. It was about an hour and a half long and it was put together by the Harvest Christian Fellowship out of California.
It started out as one of those typical biographies that you see about stars in Hollywood. As a matter of fact, for the first hour, nothing was said about Christianity at all. It documented the ups and downs of Steve’s career in chronological order. At about an hour into the story, when Steve (who had lost it all) was in the process of making it all back plus more, his Christian conversion began to be mentioned. Apparently, Steve had never been what we would call a “people person,” but after losing all his fortune and then being in the process of making it all back, he became more reclusive and untrusting of people. He also started looking around at the material prizes of his success, thinking that they should be bringing him fulfillment, but he wasn’t feeling fulfilled at all. When He wasn’t filming for a movie, he wore scrappy clothes, sporting long hair and a beard, trying to look as grungy as he could so as not to be recognized. He often took off on one of his motorcycles and just rode. During one of these rides, he discovered a small airport. Seeking solitude, he thought to himself – what could give him more solitude than riding his bike? Why, flying, of course! He would learn how to fly! While riding around the hangers seeking information as to who could teach him how to fly, he was given the name of Sam Mason.
Sam Mason had been a Navy fighter pilot, a stunt pilot for the movies, and one of the top test pilots for Lockheed Aircraft Corp. Steve got Sam’s number and called him. Now, Sam didn’t know who Steve was and actually asked his son if he “knew a guy named Steve McQueen who says he’s an actor.” Sam considered himself retired and tried to give the job to his son, who also was a highly qualified instructor; but Steve wouldn’t give up or select anyone else. Sam finally relented but told Steve that if he was going to train him, Sam would only do it with the same type of plane that he learned on in the Navy: an old bi-wing trainer. So Steve bought the specified plane, had it completely restored, and began his lessons.
Unknown to Steve at that time, Sam was not only an over-qualified flying instructor but also a qualified Sky Pilot as well. And Sam was a faithful, practicing Christian. No one will ever know exactly what the conversations during the training sessions were, but apparently Sam shared a lot about his relationship with Jesus Christ. He must have done it in a truly loving and caring way, because one day after they had finished their lesson, Steve asked Sam, “Would be alright if I went to church with you?”
Can you imagine that? Living your life in such a way, sharing the Gospel in such a way, that instead of your asking someone to come to church, they asked you if they can go to church with you. WHAT A WITNESS! I’ve never had anyone ask me if they could go to church with me. And I guess for fear of rejection, many times it has been hard for me to invite someone to attend church with me. I’ve done it many times and been blown off, ignored, and turned down. But Sam Mason’s witness so touched the heart of Steve McQueen that Steve asked him for permission….
As it turns out, Steve did go and spoke with the pastor – searching, seeking, and asking serious questions. After several weeks of this, Steve received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He began turning his life around. He became very philanthropic, looking for different ways to share his wealth and his witness. He didn’t become an instant life-of-society guy, but he became far from a hermit.
It was shortly after this that Steve began losing weight and then was found to have pleural mesothelioma. The doctors in the U.S. told him there were no cures, so he traveled to a clinic in Mexico for experimental/alternative treatment. However, he died from complications during surgery to remove a tumor in his stomach where the cancer had metastasized.
The beautiful point is that Steve’s faith, while short-lived, was real. In his last interview, given the day before his final surgery and death, there was no pity party. His only regret was that he had wasted most of his life on the things that didn’t matter and were not important. He wanted to be healed so that he could have more time to serve the Lord and spend his life for His Kingdom and do more for the One who had given His all for him.
All because Steve insisted to take flying lessons from a believing, practicing Christian named Sam Mason – who was not afraid or ashamed to share his faith.
“WOW! WHAT A WITNESS!”
If you like this and would like to read or hear more, go to my website, www.goadap.com