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God on the Small Screen
"While channel surfing late one night, I made a spiritual connection" (Michael Coren).

Why, people ask, do you Christians insist on commemorating the agonizing death on the cross of a man who lived 2,000 years ago? We answer that the man who died was the Son of God, who died for us. All of us. Then came His resurrection. The risen Jesus was seen by hundreds of people. They were so convinced of the reality of the empty tomb that they were willing to die themselves, often under torture.

People die for the wrong reasons. People die for lies that they believe to be truths. But nobody dies for something they know to be a lie. Yet Jesus' followers knew Him, shared their lives with Him and saw Him die. They knew what death looked like.

They then saw their friend and teacher alive again. They even put their hands into His wounds. Were they all naïve and foolish people, desperate to escape reality? Not at all. Surely it is those who deny the obvious who are the truly naïve and who run from what is real.

I certainly did for most of my life. Until that night when I sat watching the television, unable to sleep. Nothing on the screen really. Then I found a show hosted by a gentle soul by the name of Terry Winter. He was interviewing Roger Simpson, an English Christian minister.

Nothing the pair said seemed to leave any mark and when I awoke the next day I could remember nothing of the interview. Yet I felt oddly different, even transformed. It was as if a bath had washed me cleaner than I could ever have imagined.

I'm a cynical, experienced person, I thought, and this was just a passing phase—a case of physiology playing a trick. There was something else, however. I knew as sure as I knew my face that this Roger Simpson was a close friend of a friend of mine, a minister named Justin Dennison. I felt as if they were almost brothers.

This certainty ached away at me until, feeling a little foolish, I telephoned Justin to ask him. He was out, but his wife, Sue, was in. I told her about seeing Simpson on television, but not about my strangely changed state.

There was a long pause. "Twenty years ago at the coffee bar of the University of London in Britain, Roger Simpson converted Justin to Christianity," she said. I felt a warmth swim through my body, and thought I was going to cry.

My sense of newness increased. My attitudes toward people, toward everything, began to change. I was scared. Life was good and I didn't want any changes thank you very much. But finally the pull was too strong. I felt the urge to take that forgotten old Bible down from the shelf and read it. I felt the need to pray.

To pray! I thought I must be crazy. I was embarrassed, frightened, confused. But prayer did happen, questions were asked, answers given, arguments had. This God I had found—or had He found me?—was not some Disney creation, but a Father who wanted my best.

I went to see a minister, took instruction and was baptized. That Sunday morning, the church was full of people I had never met but who had come along especially. I asked them why. "We've been praying for you," they all said. Hundreds of people, familiar with me through my broadcasting, had prayed. God's work.

I subsequently met Terry Winter, and we became friends. He had seen God work in these ways many times, and my conversion did not surprise him. I'd liked to have known Terry better, but only a couple of years after his and my miracle, he died. When I heard the news I went to sit in that same room where I watched Terry on that special evening.

I switched on the TV. And there on the screen was Terry, hosting a show that had been recorded long ago. I felt myself choking up a little as I watched him. Then the camera pulled back to reveal that he was conducting an interview with a man called Roger Simpson. Was it Terry playing a joke on me from above, or God reminding me of His limitless power and love? Either way, I am so very grateful.

Michael Coren is the host of Michael Coren Live on CTS television and The Michael Coren Show on CFRB radio.

Originally published in Faith & Friends, January 2005.




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