“Me? A Christian? Don’t Count On It!” By Mark McGee
“If God exists, I dare him to sit down in front of me right now and be interviewed!” (Pause)
“Well, apparently God doesn’t exist or maybe he’s under the weather today (chuckle).”
The year was 1970. I was at my peak as the most hated radio talk show host in our area and I loved it! People called me blasphemous, filthy, disgusting. Things couldn’t have been better. I was young, hot and on my way to the top. But it didn’t start out that way.
I was born to Christian parents who loved God and served Him with all their hearts. I grew up in churches. I participated in the children and youth programs. I made a profession of faith in Christ as a boy. I sang in the choir. I was a teen leader. I gave my testimony in church. I won Bible drills. I worked at a national denominational summer camp. The only problem was, I wasn’t saved. My religion was dry and useless. I was dead in trespasses and sins.
By 1969, I was heavily involved in sin. It brought me great, though temporary, pleasure. My lust for sin and disgust for the church led me to a belief that God did not and could not exist. It is certainly easier to live a life of sin if you don’t believe in God. If there is no God, there is no sin and no punishment.
I started as a radio talk show host and newsman in a small market after college. I moved to a larger market the next year and quickly became a well-known talk show host. I used the airwaves to promote my atheistic beliefs. The Christian community bombarded me with phone calls. They couldn’t stand the things I said about their God. They hated my views on almost everything. I found it easy to move Christians away from intellectual discussions about God to emotional reactions to things I said. I enjoyed making Christians sound bad.
My parents never stopped praying for me. One day my mother told me she was praying for me. I told her not to waste her time. She told me she was confident I would soon receive Christ as my Savior. I laughed, placed my arm around her and said: “Me? A Christian? Don’t count on it!” She smiled and gave me a knowing hug.
Something very strange happened a few months later. The owner of our station told us he was changing the format from News/Talk Radio to Religious programming. Religious? He had to be kidding! I was between a rock and a hard place. I had to have a job but I didn’t want to start doing religious radio. The need for money won out and I stayed. I ended up playing gospel music and religious programs during my on-air shift.
I was able to keep a weekly two-hour interview program, even though the topics had to be about religion. I heard about a man who was going to lead an expedition to Turkey to search for the remains of Noah’s Ark. I thought it would be a hoot to interview this guy and make fun of his plans. But God had other plans. He was about to get the best of me!
I had done a little research about the man I was going to interview. I read he believed in a world-wide flood that killed the dinosaurs, only several thousand years ago. He really believed God had saved the human race by putting a man, his family and a whole lot of animals on a boat. He was actually going to climb a mountain and look for the remains! I also read he believed God had created the earth in six days. I was going to have a lot of fun with this guy! Everybody knew it took millions of years for life to evolve. He believed the human race had started with one man and one woman in a garden and that a snake had duped them into ruining it for everybody by tricking them into eating an apple. I was going to make mincemeat of this guy!
Dr. Henry M. Morris was a kind, soft-spoken man. He was intellectual and scientific in his approach to my questions. Instead of making fun of him, I found myself amazed at his knowledge. I was actually talking with a Christian who knew something about science. In fact, he was a professor of science! Dr. Morris fended off my questions as if I were just a freshman in one of his basic college courses. His knowledge and kind spirit impressed me.
I thanked Dr. Morris profusely at the end of the interview and wished him luck in his search. What was happening? How could I be so easily swayed to consider something I knew in my heart couldn’t be true? I didn’t know what, but something had happened to me that day.
God wasn’t through answering prayers. I heard about a Christian ministry that ran Gospel films at a drive-in theater. I thought that might be an off-beat kind of interview. I called the director of the ministry and asked him if he would appear on my interview show. He said he would.
Terry Lytle was a kind, well-spoken, talented man. I didn’t know it then, but later learned he was quite concerned about appearing on my show. Terry knew my reputation as an atheist and Christian-hater. He had heard me tear up Christians on the air. Terry depended on God to show him how to respond to me and my questions. I found Terry’s stories about depending on God for his life and ministry fascinating. I don’t know why, but I was nice to him, just like I was to Dr. Morris. I had made fools of other Christians I had interviewed, why not them?
I kept in touch with Terry after the interview. We went out to lunch. I stopped by his office from time to time. I advised him on his sound system at the drive-in theater. I met his family and found them very warm and loving people. I met Dr. Ed Hindson who worked with Terry. I spent hours asking Terry and Ed questions about the existence of God and proof that the Bible was real. They told me about Jesus Christ and His love for me. They told me about how He died a cruel death for me. I knew the story, but I never “knew” the story. It never hit me that if the Son of God had died for me, that was the greatest love I had ever known.
They patiently dealt with me for months until one day Terry asked me a life-changing question. He asked me if I knew of any reason why I shouldn’t receive Christ as my Savior. I thought for a moment and told him “no”, I couldn’t think of any reason. Terry and I went into his office. We sat down in chairs across from each other. He led me in a simple prayer. I told God I believed in Him. I told God I was a sinner and needed His forgiveness. I told God I believed He had sent His Son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life on earth and die on the cross for my sins. I asked God to forgive me my sins. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and give me eternal life. Terry prayed for me and my new life in Christ. I looked at Terry. He looked at me. We smiled and shook hands. That was my spiritual beginning.
It’s been almost 47 years since I prayed that simple prayer in Terry’s office. God has been very good to me. He’s never let me down. He’s kept all His promises. I’ve tasted of the Love and Grace of God. I’ve seen the mountain top. I’ve been in the valley. I can say with no reservation that a life of following Christ is The Greatest Life. It is the wisest of many choices.
If you are asking some of the tough questions about God and life right now, I understand. If you’re an atheist, I understand. If you hate Christians and the Church, I understand. Truthfully, every question you have can be answered. Every pain you feel can be healed. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. It begins when you talk to God and tell Him you need Him. He’s there for you. He will forgive you. He will comfort you. He’ll love you every second of your life. God is what the world needs now. God meets my every need. He meets the needs of millions of other people. He’ll meet your needs, too.
(This article first appeared in Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine in 1991. The author has revised it for online use.)
About the Author ~
Mark McGee is a career journalist and former atheist. He worked on the news staff of several radio and television stations (including Huntsville’s WAAY-TV from 1984-1996) and two large metropolitan newspapers. Mark was a reporter, correspondent, anchor, managing editor, executive producer and news director during a four decade career in news. Since retiring in 2009, Mark has worked as a communications director and consultant.
Mark has written three published books and more than 160 Ebooks. He also writes regularly for several Christian blogs. Mark also also serves as Alabama Regional Director for Ratio Christi Campus Apologetics Alliance and works with students at the University of Alabama Huntsville.
Mark has been active in martial arts and self-defense training since 1961 and has been teaching from a Christian perspective since 1971. He continues to teach privately in the Huntsville area.