The priceless collection of pristine cars arranged about the Marconi Auto Museum was obviously valuable and worth viewing, but it was the view into Barry Meguiar’s life that was the most valuable of all.
“I have a God who directs my steps, a God who loves me and is personally interested in me,” Barry said. “He never leaves me, just like He never leaves you.”
Barry Meguiar, Newport resident and president of Meguiar’s Inc., spoke about his life to more than 150 people at the auto museum Saturday for the last of 23 events of Orange Coast Christian Outreach Week. Barry is the host of “Car Crazy Radio,” which airs in 85 markets across the United States, and “Car Crazy Television,” which airs Thursday nights on Fox’s SPEED Channel. The Meguiar family has been in the car business for more than 100 years and its car-care products are favored around the world. Barry is clearly a “car guy,” but he is driven by his faith.
“There’s something I love more than cars, and it’s Jesus,” he said. “My priority is sharing my faith.”
Barry grew up going to church.
“There were times I could not have been more involved at church, but I was dry, I had no real joy,” he explained. “Other times I did the same things, but I had joy, and the difference was when I was actively sharing my faith. That made all the difference.”
“We are a post-Christian society; less than 20 percent of the population goes to church.” Barry said. “Last year about 4,000 churches closed their doors. It all boils down to the apathy of the people. People in church are just sitting there; looking at their watch and thinking about lunch.”
Barry likened church to Meguiar’s training centers.
“We have some pretty good products,” he said. “We train our salespeople well, so that they are experts, and then send them out to share what they’ve learned. What if we didn’t send them out? What if they just sat in our training centers? Pretty soon they’d look at their watches and start thinking about lunch. Church is our training center, but we need to take what we learn from our pulpits and share it with those outside the walls of the church.”
Last summer Barry picked up a rogue virus while filming in Australia.
“When I got to Pebble Beach for the biggest car event of the year, I knew I didn’t feel right, but I thought I didn’t have time to go to the doctor,” he explained. “I finally went to the ER, hoping to get a shot or something, but within 8 minutes, they had me in a private room and were running tests. The virus attacked my lungs and paralyzed me. If I hadn’t stayed there, I would have been dead in three days. I ended up on life support and in a coma. They thought I wasn’t going to make it.”
Barry said he felt surprising peace, and that God spoke to him during the medically induced week-long coma.
“God said, ‘I’ve been trying to get your attention for a long time. I told you to start this new ministry, and I want you to start it now,’” Barry said while describing his powerful experience with God and his return to consciousness. “The doctors couldn’t explain it; the day after I left ICU, all the infection was gone. They said you almost died, but now you can go home.”
After 2½ weeks in the hospital, Barry left with a new lease on life and a passion for his new ministry, presently called Outside the Walls (www.otwministry.com) which encourages and equips lay people to share their faith outside the walls of church.
“People ask why I smile all the time,” Barry said. “There’s nothing more fun than looking for opportunities to talk about God. God knows we’ll come alive when we share with others, and others need to hear. God is so awesome. He made the whole universe, but He knows each and every one of us; He knows our name. He wants us to be concerned about people’s eternal destiny.”
Barry compared his excitement to tell others about God to telling others about a wonderful discovery. “What if I knew the phone number to call anytime to get front row seats to any sport event, anytime, for free, and I didn’t tell my friends?”
Newport City Council Member Keith Curry was one of the crowd who applauded Barry’s passion and purpose. “Barry is a man of tremendous faith and he showed all of us how to be relevant and how to develop a ministry for today’s world,” he said. “He’s a man of great vision.”
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].