The road they travel

By MICHAEL J. BROOKS / Guest Columnist 

Note: This is an opinion column.

I purchased the first season DVD compilation of “The Wild, Wild West” from the mark-down shelf lately. I guess the current generation doesn’t generate much demand for a 50-year-old TV series. It’s been fun to see some of these episodes again, and it brought back pleasant memories.

Thursday night was unique for me in high school. “The Man From U.N.C.L.E” aired at 9 and “The Wild, Wild West” at 10 in Birmingham. I negotiated with my parents about staying up those nights for TV viewing. This was in the “olden days” before VCRs or DVRs, so there wasn’t another option. Since high school band was at 7 a.m., I usually sat in a daze in algebra class on Friday.

This 40th anniversary set, released in 2006, has introductory comments by series star Robert Conrad. The clerk at check-out mentioned to me Conrad died earlier this year, and I’m unsure how this escaped me. One of Conrad’s introductions was the first program featuring the evil Dr. Miguelito Loveless, and he said the character was in 10 episodes in the four-year run. And Dr. Loveless’s bodyguard, Voltaire, was in three of those episodes. The 7-foot-2-inch tall Voltaire, played by Richard Kiel, later gained more fame as “Jaws”—the man with steel teeth who bedeviled 007 Roger Moore in two films. (I read the mouthpiece was so painful, Kiel could only wear it for 30 seconds at a time during filming).

Kiel found faith that helped him conquer alcoholism, and later in life traveled to various places to share his Christian testimony. I once joked with our congregation about how revival would break out when a 7-foot-2-inch tall man with steel teeth stood in the pulpit and yelled, “Repent!”

Christian TV shows used to feature celebrities like this in interviews. I remember hearing a telephone interview when Jim and Tammy Bakker talked with Manson family member Susan Atkins. Ms. Atkins found Christ in prison while serving a life sentence. She requested immersion baptism, and authorities gave permission to bring in a cattle-dipping tank for this.

We take special note of those with dramatic conversion stories. The Apostle Paul could raise a crowd in the marketplace when he talked about seeing a great light and hearing the voice of God on the Damascus Road. But one of his closest companions was young Timothy who quietly came to faith through the gentle witness of mother and grandmother.

The late Ken Chafin remarked that for every Paul, there are 1,000 Timothys. I think he’s right. We rejoice when the notorious find Christ, but we also celebrate faith that’s regularly taught in our homes.

We’re happy when anyone comes to faith, no matter the road they travel.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is Siluriabaptist.com.