Christian illusionist brings magic, message to the masses

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Christian illusionist Brock Gill performs as part of Winter Jam 2012 on Jan. 6 at the Charleston Civic Center. Gill's show uses magic to spread his faith. While working in a sawmill, he says, he was called by God to pursue his current career.
WANT TO GO?Winter Jam 2012Featuring NewSong, Skillet, Sanctus Real, Brock Gill and many moreWHERE: Charleston Civic CenterWHEN: 7 p.m. Jan. 6TICKETS: $10 at the door INFO: CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Miracles and magic can change your life.Brock Gill, illusionist and evangelist, believes that. Gill performs Jan. 6 at Winter Jam 2012. The annual Christian concert event kicks off its 2012 tour at the Charleston Civic Center.Gill said, "A miracle or a magic trick can be something people can remember forever. With Jesus, his miracles could be something that helped someone. He healed the sick."Miracles are important, but the message is more important. He added, "The message is the truth and the truth changes people's lives eternally."Gill won't be healing the sick, curing the blind or raising the dead during Winter Jam, but he'll be performing his own kind of miracles -- "daring illusions and mind-blowing escapes." He'll also be spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.Gill said he's an entertainer second and a believer first. He was just a believer back before he ever even thought of doing his first magic trick.He said, "I was 22, in between college years, working in a sawmill in Louisiana. I really had no direction in life."
Like a lot of other Christians, he turned to prayer and he said he got an answer."I started hearing that little whisper," he said, "which sounds strange to some people, but it said, 'Learn how to do illusions. This is going to be your career.'"
Gill said he thought the voice was putting him on. Illusions? Really? He worked at a sawmill."To me, it was just the most ridiculous thing. How was I supposed to make a living? I had zero concept."Soon after, though, a friend showed him a couple of simple magic tricks he'd picked up. Gill was so impressed he began studying illusions himself. He went back to college."I practiced for seven or eight months," he said. "I quit my job and started getting bookings."
He performed at churches as part of an evangelical outreach. It was ministry first, entertainment second. The first show, Gill said, was terrible."The next show was almost as bad and so was the next one, but then I wasn't so bad. I got better. After a few shows, it was OK."I never worked [a regular job] again," he said.That was 15 years ago, and while the magic has gotten better, the message remains the same, and just as important as it's always been."I build routines that are entertaining," Gill said, "but when I get to talk about the reason for living, I get to show faith. It's an agenda.His form of entertainment, he said, is really no different from what everyone else is doing on the tour or what most performers anywhere are doing. Performers, whether they admit to it or whether their fans know it, communicate messages. They have agendas.Gill is just more upfront about it.Of course, his particular act is more death defying than what most performers will confront during your average rock 'n' roll show."Well, they stage dive, don't they?" Gill laughed.Still, he doesn't see what he does -- placing himself in risky situations -- as tempting God."I think me and God have a pretty good relationship," he said. "I feel this is what he wants me to do. I think it's like skydiving. To me, going skydiving without a parachute, that would be tempting God."On stage, he knows where his parachute is. And he trusts in God.Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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