Author and co-author of 112 books
Founder of Josh McDowell Ministry, since 1983, has ministered to millions all over the world
Founder of Operation Carelift (1991)/Global Aid Network (GAIN)
Nominated 36 times for the Gold Medallion Award (won on 4 occasions), numerous other award honors
B.A., Wheaton College
M.Div, Talbot Theological
Married, Dottie; 4 children, 3 grandchildren
The Undaunted Faith of Josh McDowell
By Julie Blim
When Josh McDowell speaks, young people listen – ten million of them in 115 countries over his career. He’s well known for writing Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Ironically, Josh tried his best to disprove Christianity as a college student. When his research led him to the truth of God’s existence and moreover, his love, Josh committed his life to sharing that truth with passion. He’s happily married to Dottie, and they’ve known a rich family life with their four children. His own youth was quite a different story. He recently sat down to talk with The 700 Club's Scott Ross.
"Let’s backtrack a little bit, talking about that. That was not your background, your dad..."
"My dad was an alcoholic and then i was severely sexually abused," says Josh.
"With your dad being an alcoholic, so forth, what did that how did that affect your view of life, of fatherhood," asks Scott.
"Well, when you have an alcoholic father, i always felt it was my fault. And that i wasn’t worth having a relationship with. That’s how a lot of that comes out. And so it affects your self-image. That you’re, not valuable as a son. Because he never once said, i love you, or kissed me or took me anywhere to be alone with me. Every time he took me somewhere it was to unload the truck or something like that, there was always a reason for it," says Josh.
Scott asks, "Where was your mother in all this?"
"Well, my mom was sick quite a bit, and couldn’t handle a lot of it. But I’d go out in the barn and I’d see my mother lying the gutter in the manure behind the cows where my dad had just taken a milk hose and just beat her to a bloody pulp until she couldn’t stand up. And I’d be kicking and beating on him at nine, ten years old saying, 'When I’m strong enough, I’ll kill you,'" remembers Josh.
Josh’s father was just one source of pain.
"When I was six years old, my parents hired a man by the name of Wayne Bailey to work on the farm as a cook and a housekeeper," says Josh. " And from that day on, whenever my mother would go downtown, shopping, or my folks go away for the weekend or whatever, my mother would literally march me into Wayne Bailey and say 'Now, you obey him. You do everything he tells you to do and if you’re disobedient, you’ll get a thrashing when I get home.' And, so what do you do at six years old, you do what Wayne Bailey tells you. And at nine and 12 years old, I got up the courage and went to my mother and told her. And she wouldn’t believe me. And I can’t put into words how you feel at nine years old when that happens. You feel isolated. I don’t think I ever experienced so much fear in my whole life because you feel you’re all alone. Here’s a man doing these things to you and there’s nothing you can do and those who are supposed to protect you would not believe you.
The abuse stopped a year later when Josh was finally big enough to push the man away. He made it through high school, but had another heartbreak just around the corner.
"I heard my mother crying, it was a Saturday night, kust crying loudly," says Josh.
"And I ran through the house into her bedroom. And she sat up in bed and I said, 'Mom, what’s wrong? What’s wrong?' And she said, 'Your father has broken my heart.' She reached down and put her arms around me and she said, 'I’ve lost the will to live, son.' Whew. 'All I want to do is live until you graduate, then i just want to die.' And, two months later I graduated and the next Friday the 13th she up and died."
Scott Ross asks, "where did the encounter with God come from? How did that happen for you?"
"Came out of anger, bitterness, resentment," says Josh. "I met some students at the university and professors whose lives were really different."
So he made friends with them and asked one girl why they were so loving to everyone. Her answer: “Jesus Christ.”
"And I blew up. I said, 'Don’t give me that garbage, I’m sick and tired of that trash of religion and church and Bible and God and Christians,'" says Josh. "And then she said, 'I didn’t tell you the church or the Bible or Christians. I told you the person of Jesus Christ.' I apologized to her because my mother hadn’t raised me to be rude. But then she challenged me to intellectually examine the Scriptures as the word of God and Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God, which i thought was a joke. I really did. I truly believed Christians had two brains. One was lost and the other was out looking for it. I thought Christians were walking idiots."
So Josh accepted her challenge and travelled throughout Europe - hoping to gather evidence to disprove Christianity. But all he found did the opposite.
" What was written down was true," sayd Josh. "Jesus had actually done that, and he had actually said that. And that led to a process then of returning to the university where I couldn’t sleep and so I leaned back in my chair, cupped my hands behind my head and I said, 'it’s true. It’s true, it’s true.' And so that December the 19th at 8:30 at night, I became a Christian."
McDowell wasted no time in telling others what he’d discovered. After five decades of talking to and with young adults, he’s an expert on youth culture.
"This is why everywhere I go I talk about my wife," says Josh. "I’m one of the luckiest men in the world to be married to Dottie. Because my greatest platform is not with all my degrees, everything else, it’s not all my books, everything. It’s that I’m known as a man who loves his wife, and spends time with his children. That opens more, I speak as a daddy."
Josh’s latest book and companion DVD bring to life the whole painful truth of his childhood. Undaunted is a stunning story of forgiveness and transformation.
Scott asks, "somebody’s going to write your obituary some day, what do you want it to say?"
"He was known for loving his wife and spending time with his children," says Josh.
"Not writing books, not doing TV, not videos," asks Scott?
"No. And if there’s any one phrase it would be that God became man and his name was Jesus and He is passionate about a relationship with you," says Josh.
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