Conversation: Bruce Marchiano
Actor Bruce Marchiano dedicated his life to fulfilling a Hollywood dream. It appeared to be coming true as he enjoyed appearances on Murder She Wrote, L.A. Law, Colombo and other television programs. But the biggest role of his career also proved to be a life-changing experience. Marchiano spoke with Associate Editor Scott Harrup about what is really important to him today.
tpe: Many people remember your portrayal of Jesus Christ in the 1990s video series The Visual Bible. How did your participation in that project influence your own faith experience?
MARCHIANO: It took it from warm to molten. It completely rewrote my priorities and my understanding of who I am as a child of God and who I am as a man. In every way it was a total rewrite of my Christian identity.
I had been raised in church and gone to a church school, but my understanding of God did not involve a personal relationship with Him. That changed when I accepted Christ as my Savior in 1989 and began attending The Church on the Way. I learned things through Pastor Jack HayfordÕs ministry that remain cornerstones for me today.
We filmed Matthew for The Visual Bible in North and South Africa for three months in 1997. It forced me to fix my eyes on Jesus and knock the dust off the old stories. I had never cried out to Jesus, ÒI want to really know You.Ó Suddenly, that became the prize, the ultimate goal.
I think of Jeremiah 29:13, ÒWhen you seek me with all of your heart, IÕll be found.Ó
tpe: How effective do you think some of the more recent film portrayals of the life of Christ — such as The Passion of the Christ and The Gospel of John — have been in sharing the gospel with secular audiences?
MARCHIANO: ItÕs all God. Whether itÕs Matthew or the Gospel of John or The Passion of the Christ, itÕs just exciting to me that people are putting Jesus out there.
tpe: What led you to establish Marchiano Ministries?
MARCHIANO: Following Matthew, I began to get ministry invitations. It was something IÕd never considered. But I stepped out and began to see lives changed. So my passion turned from making movies to seeing peopleÕs lives changed for Jesus.
Crusades and international ministry and other opportunities presented themselves, and it began to grow from out of nowhere. I never sat down and planned it.
As I continued to choose ministry over movie opportunities, it blossomed into a full-time commitment. Last year I was in South Africa three times, Australia, Italy, England and New Zealand. WeÕre looking at an invitation from Slovakia.
We hold some crusade services, but weÕre also involved in South Africa with rescuing abandoned HIV-infected children and placing them in homes.
tpe: So your movie involvement is history?
MARCHIANO: No, I am still acting professionally and also involved in producing another film based on the Gospel of John. ItÕs going to be word-for-word in the New International Version.
tpe: YouÕve continued to study the life of Christ closely and have written books about Him. What is the first thing you would want to tell someone about Jesus?
MARCHIANO: The one thing people need to know is that Jesus loves them. Sadly, that phrase — Jesus loves you — has become clichŽ. I had a crash course in the depth of ChristÕs love, and IÕve been trying to communicate that. Love is who Jesus is. HeÕs the personification of GodÕs love for us.
tpe: In your role as Christ, you constantly quoted His teachings. How challenging is it to take something like the Sermon on the Mount, move it from off of a script or off the pages of the Bible, and apply it to yourself?
MARCHIANO: ItÕs simple É but itÕs not easy. ItÕs simple in the sense that itÕs clear-cut. IÕm a very black-and-white kind of person. I donÕt think in terms of gray areas. I think Jesus was that way. He said, ÒYouÕre either for Me or against Me.Ó
But itÕs not easy, because everything He taught totally wars with our sin nature. Everything of Him is selfless and giving. Everything of my human nature is about self and about taking. If I could boil Jesus down to one word, it would be giving. All He did was give himself away.
tpe: What can followers of Jesus do to make His teachings the foundation of their lives?
MARCHIANO: IÕm just dumb enough to think at the core of it all is a heart crying out to Him, seeking Him and seeking transformation in Him. ItÕs all done by the power of the Holy Spirit. No human act of will can create this kind of transformation.
WeÕre all works of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us to ask and we will receive. Nothing can change a life more radically than a heart that cries out just for Jesus, more of Jesus, and the transformation brought about by GodÕs grace.
tpe: In your travels, what kinds of life issues and hurts do you see people expressing as they seek Christ?
MARCHIANO: Our world is so volatile. A little thing happens on the other side of the world and the stock market freaks out. The threat of terrorism keeps people looking over their shoulders. People live with fear. They know that the things theyÕve relied on donÕt work and donÕt last.
And in the middle of all that underlying insecurity stands Jesus who says, ÒCome to Me and IÕll give you rest for your soul.Ó
tpe: How do you see Marchiano Ministries connecting people with Jesus in the years ahead?
MARCHIANO: If God has asked me to do anything, itÕs just to make Jesus real to people, whether that be on screen or through a book or standing in front of an audience. So all of our resources and energy will be directed toward that.
A friend once told me, ÒBruce, the day you try to become a ÔpreacherÕ instead of just sharing Jesus is the day you need to hang it up.Ó But everything Marchiano Ministries will do will keep Jesus in focus, and keep communicating Him through every means possible.
tpe: Any final thoughts?
MARCHIANO: So much of our attempts to be Christians leaves Jesus out. ItÕs sad. If any element in our Christian walk is not about Him, itÕs really not about anything. HeÕs got to be at the core. I would say with the writer of Hebrews 12:2: ÒLet us fix our eyes on Jesus.Ó
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