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Seeing is Believing
Death-defying escapes, blind-folded cycling, mind-blowing street magic—it's all in a day's work for a magician—all, maybe, but sharing studio space with Steven Spielberg.

Death-defying escapes, blind-folded cycling, mind-blowing street magic — it's all in a day's work for a magician. But if the term 'magician' conjures up top hats and tuxedos, then you've never seen Brock Gill.

Photo courtesy Hoganson Media Relations

Wearing a T-shirt, baggy pants, shaggy hair with edgy rock music blasting, the young illusionist looks more like a skateboarder than a typical illusionist.

His tricks include pulling cards out of thin air while wearing a short sleeve shirt, street magic like making a key heat up in a participant's hands and, of course, finding an audience member's selection from a deck of cards.

Probably his most well-known feat is the water coffin.

"We bought a coffin, cut windows in it and lined it with glass," Gill explained to the Assemblies of God magazine last year. "We fill it with water and invite people to bring chains and locks to lock me up around my neck and wrists and legs and around my body."

Gill then uses all of his dexterity and agility, not to mention oxygen, to escape. The daring escape can be seen on Gill's second full-length DVD, Hidden Agenda (2005). It takes him roughly 90 seconds to escape, all while his audience watches through the glass.

The illusion has a deeper meaning for Gill than just the ability to take audiences' breath away, not to mention his! It relates to the biblical story of Lazarus being brought back from the dead. "[Lazarus] was dead. He was in the grave. But when Jesus called his name, he responded and received life," Gill tells Living Light News. This is not merely some neat story in a book. Gill says it's more serious than that. "Without Jesus, we're not just drowning, we're already spiritually dead. But Jesus is calling our names and wants to give us life."

Gill grew up in Louisiana, and his parents took him to church several times a week. When he was in the seventh grade his father became a pastor. In spite of that, Gill was a very angry and rebellious youth. "Even though I went to church on Sundays, I lived a totally different life the rest of the week," Gill admits. "[I] hated life and hated everyone around me," he continues. "There were times when I was on the verge of committing suicide. I wanted to run away from home." While Gill and his friends took their rebellion into criminal activity, conviction gnawed at his heart.

At summer camp Gill finally reached the end of his rope, at which point he surrendered his life into the arms of Christ. "It was just sort of a process of God making me sick of the sinful life I was living. I didn't enjoy it; I didn't like it. I knew there was something more," recalls Gill. Confessing his sins and asking Jesus into his heart had an immediate effect on Gill.

"Once I did get saved, my life was completely different. Ever since then I've been trying to use creative ways to reach people and from there it turned into a full-time ministry and career." Gill attended college in Texas, studying religion. At the age of 22, a friend introduced him to the art of illusions. "I was instantly hooked," he remembers. As his interest deepened, Gill felt like God wanted him to create a ministry around the art of illusions. After a performance at a youth event, requests for his shows poured in before he even had business cards printed. Gill quit working graveyard shifts at a saw mill to pursue full-time ministry. "It was wild. Still is," he says.

Thirty-one-year-old Gill and his wife of seven years, Auny, currently make their home in Nashville, TN.

The special was shot at the Mediterranean Film Studios on the island of Malta.

"This is where we call home, when we're home," he says. The couple travels nationwide to perform with various ministry teams. Gill has shared the stage with the likes of Franklin Graham, John Piper, David Nasser, Relient K, Sonic Flood, TobyMac, Mercy Me, Third Day and Audio Adrenaline. Gill's show mixes edgy humour, jaw-dropping tricks and a clear message about the Gospel of Jesus Christ to today's MTV generation. One of his outreaches, The Freedom Experience, combines three days of Gill's magical performance, a Chaos on Wheels BMX stunt-act, freestyle skating by Tim Byrne and a rock concert.

Such extreme performances would seem to make Gill an odd choice for a Discovery Channel television special exploring the miracles of Jesus. Nevertheless, in the spring of 2005, the British Broadcasting Corporation asked Gill to participate in a documentary look at Christ and ministry, along with fellow Christian illusionist André Kole.

The special was shot at the Mediterranean Film Studios on the island of Malta. (Coincidentally, the group shared space with Steven Spielberg and his crew filming Munich.)

The documentary crew also traveled through Israel to explore the environment Jesus lived in, including weather patterns — anything that might explain the unexplainable. Critics have maintained Jesus' miracles may have been the work of trickery, hypnosis or some sort of slight of hand. Who better than a professional magician to shed some light on whether they really were, well, miraculous?

"I learned that I didn't know much," Gill conveys. "I just learned a lot about the real story of what [Jesus] was really like and what really was going on and how the miracles were the one thing that pointed to Him as being the Messiah.

"Jesus' miracles were beyond anything that people of that day had seen or heard of before." The ultimate miracle was the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, granting everyone forgiveness for their sins, followed by His rising from the dead. The Miracles of Jesus aired in December 2005 and was released on DVD February 1, 2006. Gill hopes the series will spur viewers to make a serious search for the truth.

"Jesus to me was a historical figure, who was more than just a prophet, more than a miracle worker, more than a world leader or a rebel," says Gill. "Basically, because of His miracles I believe that He rose from the dead, the Saviour of the world. "He's my best friend. He's the one that I serve; He's the one that I choose to live for. He is everything to me."

Jennifer Jacoby-Smith is a freelance writer from Saskatoon, SK. Jacoby-Smith and her husband have two kids.

Originally published in Living Light News, January/February 2006.




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