but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4:5, HCSB
Here is another modern-day missionary. This guy is a missional artisan following God’s great strategy and modeling the five-fingered-approach-to-sharing-the-gospel.
Steve Fairchild fulfills his mission to artists in a completely different setting. As a child, Fairchild went to live with his grandparents after his parent’s divorce. His grandparents took him to church every Sunday and on Wednesday nights. There he learned the basic facts of the gospel but church left him confused and frustrated. The pastor preached against smoking but lit up a cigarette anytime he worked on his car. Church members smiled and hugged at church but talked hatefully about each other all week. Fairchild said, “As a child, I remember being told that dancing and going to movies was sinful. Then the rules changed and movies and dancing were okay. I used to wonder what happened to all the people that went to movies and died before they changed the rules. As I grew up I wanted no part of church or organized religion.”
Fairchild’s mother eventually remarried and brought him home. As professional musicians, his mother and stepfather traveled with several prominent country music artists. So when Fairchild could break away, he took to the road as a country musician himself.
He remembered, “When I began my career in show business, Jesus was the last thing I was thinking about. I was in the fast lane making lots of money as a Garth Brooks tribute artist, having lots of fun, and touring all over the world. I thought if I was just a good person, I would be okay.”
But his thinking changed when he met his wife. She shared how important Jesus was in her life and that she would never marry someone who was not a believer in Christ.
“I can sacrifice an hour in church if I get to marry the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met,” he thought. “So that’s what I did while we were dating and in the first two years of marriage. I went to church for her, not me.”
One Sunday morning the pastor asked, “What is keeping you from a relationship with Jesus?” It was a searing question, but Fairchild had plenty of answers. The pastor continued, “Some of you are carrying around excuses like bricks in a backpack. Let them go and come to Jesus.” Suddenly, like Paul on the Damascus road, it was as if Fairchild was the only person in the room. He heard Jesus’ voice, “Steve, what is your excuse?”
Steve replied with his standard answer, “There are too many hypocrites in church.” He heard Jesus ask again, “What does that have to do with your relationship with me?” “I don’t like how they change the rules!” Fairchild countered. But through his every excuse, Jesus’ question was the same.
Fairchild said, “My life changed that day. I gave my whole life to Jesus. My backpack of excuses fell to the ground, and I was free for the first time in my life.”
Then reality set in. The next day, Fairchild went to the theater where for many years he had been performing 12 shows a week impersonating Garth Brooks. There was sin all around him in the language, attitudes, and actions of his fellow artists.
He said, “The biggest shock was not all the mess that was happening around me, but how I had lived in that mess without ever seeing it before.”
The next morning he met with his pastor. He shared that he was going to have to quit his job to avoid the evil around him. The pastor looked him in the eye and said, “How will anyone come out of that darkness if you are not there to show them the light?” A missionary was born!
Fairchild completes his story by saying, “Since 2000, I have traveled the world spreading the good news of Jesus Christ disguised as Garth Brooks. Meanwhile, I became an elder in our church and served as worship leader. In 2010 our pastor became ill and died unexpectedly. The following October, I was chosen to succeed him as pastor of our church, Low Country Community Church in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Many of the artists I have worked with across the years, now come to my church. I don’t preach in my cowboy hat but I do still perform as Garth. Every time I sing ‘Friends in Low Places,’ I am reminded of people in low places looking desperately for life’s answer. Christ is the answer. We have been commissioned to go and make disciples for him. If God can use a Garth Brooks impersonator, he can use anybody!” Even YOU! 🙂 — Mark Powers