Monday 26 August 2013
Illusionist and Bible communicator Christopher Wayne knows what it’s like to feel hollow inside. In his teens he struggled with clinical depression and just couldn’t understand why it was happening to him, a Christian.
“At 18, though, I was healed by God at a church prayer service. To this day, there is no other reason that can account for this change in me.”
It was extremely meaningful for Wayne when in 2012 a young girl approached him after a school show. “She said she’d seen an earlier show of mine where I’d spoken about mental illness. At the time, she’d been going through a struggle herself, and after seeing that show she’d started to discuss things with her school chaplain. But it was the magic show that started her on the road to healing.
“We are all crushed cans. We can all be crushed and empty and broken; but if we allow him to, God can restore us. He’s done it thousands of times.”
This message of encouragement is something Wayne incorporates into his performances. His website gospelmagic.com.au and the names of his shows like More Than Magic summarise what he does, using magic as a way to communicate the gospel message.
“And not just the God stuff,” he says, “but a message to let others know—especially young people—that it’s OK to not have it all together.”
Wayne says More than Magic is a first for Australia. “Never before has there been a TV series by an Australian magician. There are 13 episodes and they incorporate a very light Christian message. It’s showing on the Australian Christian Channel, Shine TV in New Zealand and also in the UK and USA.”
Wayne performs 250-300 shows a year. But it was not a career pulled out of a hat. At 21, working in a biscuit factory weighing cocoa, he dreamed of more. To stave off boredom, he started creating magic tricks. “I grew up watching some top illusionists and they’re the reason I do magic now,” explains Wayne. “Sitting in the biscuit factory I started forming the idea of a magic show with a message. God had affected my own life so much, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to connect with young people in a way that was different and contemporary?’
And that’s how he got started, using his talent with magic and illusion to help people “see the light”.
“With magic the whole thing is visual. Jesus was visual too, like when he drew in the sand, spat in the mud and so on. He communicated in a manner that everyone understood.”
“A large part of my bookings are for church family fun days, when non Christians are invited. This is my opportunity to perform for them a show that is encouraging, and which has a message.”
God has also opened a wonderful opportunity for Wayne, to work with the very magicians he admired growing up. The Illusionists is billed as the number one magic show on the planet, featuring seven top illusionists on stage. Wayne is managing the show, as it travels to the Middle East and to Europe from this week. “It’s amazing, and it’s a tricky thing for me. They were my childhood heroes, but now I have to be their professional equal, though working behind the scenes. It’s a real honour and a privilege; when I wake up every morning I have to pinch myself!”
Still, Wayne draws his greatest pleasure from helping others through his “gospel magic”.
“One day after a show,” he recalls, “I found a handwritten letter someone had somehow sneaked into one of my cases. It said, ‘I’m going through some of the toughest times in my life right now, and this was just what I needed’.
“ I’ll never know more than that, but I like that I’ll never know.
“All the credit goes back to God. Sitting back there in the biscuit factory, wondering what to do that was radically different, who could have foreseen all this?“
No one but God, of course – the ultimate creator of something out of nothing.
Click here for Wayne’s “The Magic of the Bible” produced for Bible Society, featuring short devotions and illusions that demonstrate a message.
To read the Bible with Wayne, as part of Bible Society’s Live Light in 25 Words campaign, click here.