Magic, illusion takes children’s minister places other pastors ‘can never go’

Magic, illusion takes children’s minister places other pastors ‘can never go’

Tying people up, stabbing them with swords and cutting them in half are some of David Garrard’s favorite tools for sharing the gospel.

They work so well because they get people’s attention, the Samford University alum explains.

“It makes me an interesting person,” says Garrard, a 65-year-old Kentuckian. “Some of the things I do might be able to get you to listen to me for five minutes.”

Magically speaking he’s the real deal. But he’s also described as equally talented and dedicated as a pastor to children and their families, a ministry position he held 42 years at St. Matthews Baptist Church, Louisville, until his retirement in September 2018.

Garrard admits that as a young college student at Samford in Birmingham and later a seminary student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, he never saw children’s ministry being in the cards for him.

“If you had told me … ‘You are going to go to a church, you are going to stay there 42 years, you’re going to be working with children and still doing your magic,’ I would have gone, ‘You got the wrong crystal ball, buddy. Because that’s not me.’”

In hindsight, however, that path seems clear. 

From the beginning he purposefully integrated magic and ministry using magic and other media to illustrate gospel truths.

Complementing roles

Garrard says his ministry and magic complement each other. 

“That’s when the magic of ministry comes in,” he said.

It also requires a lot of hard work and throughout his ministry Garrard has steadfastly resisted advertising himself as an evangelist performer.

“I do not like to be called a Christian magician,” he says. “I’m a magician who is a Christian.”

That approach enables him to take his tricks and his faith into a wide range of venues. “As a magician I go places my pastor can never go.”

Mac King, whose ongoing “Mac King Comedy Magic Show” has been running at Harrah’s Las Vegas for 20 years, said Garrard has developed a performance that opens the way for his beliefs to shine through.

“If you spend five minutes with him you know he’s a genuinely great human being, and if you watch him do magic for five minutes you know he’s a genuinely great magician,” King says. 

David Garrard also is frequently the emcee for The Alabama Baptist’s night of entertainment event series. (BNG, TAB)