My older brother got a magic kit when I was seven. He was totally disinterested in it, but I wasn’t. I was the youngest of four kids, and suddenly I’d found something I could do that other family members couldn’t. I was intrigued, but I’m an open-book kind of guy. The secrecy, deception, and illusion of magic quickly frustrated me, and when other magicians wouldn’t share their secrets, I lost interest. Then I discovered juggling, and it fit my personality better.
I practiced and practiced. At the age of 23, I travelled by train across Europe, setting up my show on various street corners. By the time I returned to America, I had mastered my craft and was invited to perform on national television, movie sets, and even at the White House and the Pentagon.
Around 1990, the Guinness Book of World Records wanted to establish a heavyweight juggling record. I appeared on an international show called Record Breakers (BBC) that aired across Europe and Asia. Millions of viewers watched as I earned the title of World’s Strongest Juggler by juggling three 16-pound bowling balls for 62 catches.
That title opened many doors to perform with amazing celebrities, but the most remarkable place I’ve performed is prison. To date, through Inmate Encounter and Bill Glass Ministries, I’ve performed in over 300 prisons.
What a privilege and honor it is to use my talents to bring joy, laughter, and hope to a place where little of that exists. My juggling and comedy act builds a bridge to the hearts of inmates that allows me to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the only One who can bring lasting joy!
Everyone has talent of some sort. I happen to be good at juggling and telling a few good jokes, and God’s given me a ministry through that. I use my platform to encourage others to use whatever talent they have for God’s glory, too. When they do, their lives are fulfilled and others’ lives are changed.
I was preparing to speak to inmates on death row awhile back, but what I usually say just didn’t seem to fit the occasion. “God, these guys are on death row. They are locked away until the day they die. What kind of message can I take to them?” But I felt God urging me to share the same message I would with any other audience.
At the end of my performance, an inmate named Michael approached me and said, “I’ve been on death row for 23 years. I never imagined someone like you would come and perform for us.” He went on to tell me about his talent for drawing and then showed me various cartoons he had drawn while incarcerated.
“I even have one of you,” he said. Then he showed me a cartoon that he had drawn years earlier, of a man dressed in fishing gear, walking through a prison chapel. Amazingly, I had just performed a skit based on John 21:1–14, where Peter and the other disciples had caught a boatload of fish simply because they were willing to do things Jesus’ way. My skit was complete with a fishing net and large plastic fish that I juggled high in the air.
This man had not met me before that day, and his drawing directly ministered to my heart. It was if God were saying to me that He’d known I’d be performing for that man years before I even came.
“Do you think God can use my talent too?” Michael asked. I told him his cartoons could indeed impact others for God’s kingdom—they had already encouraged me! He gave me his sketches and asked me to help his artwork see the light of day. This guy has since paid his debt to society and has been put to death for his crime. How thankful I am that, through this magazine, his cartoon will minister to thousands on both sides of prison walls.
What are your talents? Is it juggling, telling a joke, playing a sport, drawing, singing, carpentry, cooking, mechanics, developing business strategies? It could be anything, but whatever it is, use it for God’s glory. I don’t know where He has you right now or who you come in contact with, but I know this: God can use your talent to touch the world. Whether He’s given you a talent for the spotlight or one that works behind the scenes, there is no such thing as an insignificant talent in the hands of God. Even a smile can change someone’s life!
So do whatever it is you love to do. Share your gift with others. You have to realize; your talents aren’t for you. It’s for someone who needs a touch, a lift, or a laugh. It’s for someone who needs a helping hand or an encouraging word. God can use your gift to build a bridge to the heart of another person, so He can heal their heart.
Even if your talents seem insignificant to you, don’t look down on it or wish you had someone else’s talents. Celebrate your talents; practice and develop it. That’s your part. Then give your talents to God and watch what He can do.
Written by Bob Whitcomb
Photo by Christopher Burns