“I can laugh outside but cry on the inside.” Josh McDowell somberly revealed.
“My father was the town drunk .When my dad wasn’t hurting my mother, I was busy trying to kill my dad. Every week for seven years I was homosexually raped by Wayne Bailey.” The man was hired as cook and housekeeper when the young Josh was six years old. When his parents had to go away or his mother had to go downtown to go shopping, her “harsh farm voice” told him, “You obey everything he tells you to do; if you’re disobedient, you’ll get a thrashing when I get home.”
“At nine years old, I got the courage to tell my mother. I went into the kitchen while she did dishes and told her what this man did. She was mad at me. (When she started shaking her finger, you ran for cover.) For thirty minutes, she hit me… until I started shouting, ‘I’m lying, I’m lying!’ That was the darkest day in my life. I became a fighter; I gave up hope. I always got into trouble. If I had a male teacher, I would go in the corner and shake . I was afraid of being alone with men.
In University, I was hurt, wounded, bitter, angry, and totally dysfunctional. I saw a small group of people— two professors and eight students; they looked different. They stood out because they seemed to have a genuine love for each other and the same authentic love for people outside their group. I wanted to belong, to experience what they had, specially with my background. After a couple of weeks, conversations started to get to God.
There was one lady who was kinda cute. I used to think all Christians were ugly… like if you had nowhere else to go, you became Christian. I thought they had two brains: one was lost and the other one was looking for it… I thought Christians were walking idiots.
I leaned back in my chair with an arrogant attitude, asked them, ‘Why are you so different?’ A young lady with a little smile that can be irritating… she didn’t miss a beat. She said ‘Jesus Christ.’ I said, ‘Oh, I’m fed up with church, Christianity, and bible.’
Without blinking, she said, ‘I did not tell you ‘bible or church or Christianity; I said the person of Jesus Christ.’
[I thought] ‘I don’t want anything to do with God, bible, or Christians.’ Right then, they had the gall to challenge me to intellectually examine two things: (1) that the bible, the word of God is truth and, (2) Jesus Christ is the Messiah and son of God.
They ticked me off. Everything they were doing was appropriate. I was the problem. I accepted the challenge then took air out of all their tires.”
“I accepted the challenge mostly out of spite to prove them wrong… I was a prelaw student, and I knew something about evidence… if I could uncover indisputable evidence that the Bible is an unreliable record, the whole of Christianity would crumble.
I …spent months in research… even dropped out of school for a time to study in the historically rich libraries of Europe. And I found evidence. Evidence in abundance…” [Source]
The result of his research was published in 1972 as “Evidence That Demands A Verdict.”
“After my travel, I couldn’t sleep, it started to affect me and my grades. I was intellectually dishonest. My mind told me it’s true but I said. ‘Jesus is not part of my future.'”
The compelling, overwhelming evidence that demanded a verdict did not change Josh McDowell’s heart.
“None of my books brought me to Christ. All the evidence did was get my attention. I was so mad at Him, I was slamming the door. The evidence stuck His foot in the doorway.
Two Things eventually changed me:
1 the love relationship Christians had with each other
2 God’s love for me. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
1. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. (I realised if I were the only person alive, He would have died for me.)
2. The Bible was true – all have sinned (I knew little of the bible but I knew that God forgave me )
3. To as many as received Him, to them He gave them the right to become children of God– I just said ‘Jesus, I receive You into my life. I open the door. Nothing happened. But about six months to a year after, my entire life was transformed . I had the thrill of leading my father to Christ. He had a bad car accident and [for a time] he couldn’t move. [One day,] My father said, ‘How could you love a father such as I?’ (I said) ‘I understand Jesus is passionate about a relationship with me.’ My father walked out . Forty-five minutes after, he came back. He went to my bed and said, ‘If God can do in my life what I’ve seen him do in your life then I want him.’
4. After I trusted Jesus, I knew I had to forgive the man who raped me for seven years. By faith I went to Jackson, Michigan. I told him, ‘What you did to me is evil but I’ve come to know Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.’ [Intellectually I knew it was true but emotionally I didn’t want it to be true. I knew the bible is true and I knew God commanded me to forgive so I did it. I had no good feeling; I wanted that man to burn in hell. I did it (forgave him) out of obedience.] I came here to tell you He died for you as He did for me.’ Then I walked out. If I hadn’t done that, the bitterness would destroy my life.”
Evidence That Demands A Verdict continues to be a bestseller; it ranked 13th in Christianity Today’s list of most influential evangelical books published after World War II. Josh McDowell’s book, More Than a Carpenter had over 27 million copies distributed. He wrote another 150 more books, received the Gold Medallion Award four times. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wheaton College, and at Biola University’s Talbot Theological Seminary where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with his Master of Divinity degree. He was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Simon Greenleaf School of Law [now Trinity Law School].
In the interview below, Josh McDowell says, “My greatest platform is not with all my degrees, not my (152) books, everything… I’m known as a man who loves his wife [Dottie] and spends time with his [four] children [and ten grandchildren]… If he can add one phrase to his obituary, this is what he would choose: ” God became man, His name is Jesus and He is passionate about a relationship with you.”
Since 1964, he has been a representative for Campus Crusade for Christ International. Some of the vast range of topics he speaks on are Maximum Sex, Pornography, 7A’s (Building Relationships That Transform Families). The latter two, he shared at last weekend’s Intentional Discipleship Conference at CCF Center. Please click HERE to access free resources from his website, Josh.org. He signed away rights to profits from his books early on in his writing career. He doesn’t get any profit from the resources he makes available through his website, but you can donate to the Josh McDowell Ministry to help sustain this wide-reaching life-transforming ministry.
Please click HERE for Josh McDowell’s response to the question: