“It was scary, but really cool,”
“That was wild!”
“Seriously, how DID he do that?”
These were some of the many responses from the 150 teenagers who experienced Jim Munroe’s unique giftedness at Mariners high school group on a recent Sunday morning.
Jim Munroe, who describes himself as a psychological illusionist, creatively combines mystery, art and occasional danger to affect today’s culture for Jesus Christ.
“I didn’t come all the way from Texas to entertain you,” Jim said to the teens. “I want you to leave here a different person.”
Jim has performed illusions for people since he was given his first Fischer Price magic set by his grandparents.
“He could make a microphone out of anything and put on shows whenever he found an audience!” his mother said to me. “Being the mother of a magician has challenges; I never knew what I’d find when I cleaned his room!”
Jim grew up in Orange County, attended Servite High School in Anaheim, and went to University of Texas where he’d been offered a baseball scholarship.
“I grew up going to different churches, but by the time I left high school, I thought it was all fake,” Jim said. “But then life crept in; I blew out my shoulder and began investigating Christianity. I walked into church one day chasing a girl and felt something tugging at me. I connected with God and became a follower of Christ.”
Jim could no longer be an athlete and felt God wanted him involved in some sort of ministry. He realized he could use his gift of illusion to point people to what was actually real and true in life.
“I can take a deck of cards and a quarter and gather people in no time,” Jim said. “I get a crowd that is inquisitive, that wants to see more, that wants to know how I did it. They want to know the truth. Illusion puts people in a place of humility and their defenses are down. They realize they don’t know everything; I can get people to talk about God.”
Jim drew more and more crowds over time, and in 2000, his ministry was born. Since then he has shared his powerful message at colleges and churches across the country and overseas as well. I can’t actually tell you what his ministry is called, because it’s one of his mysteries.
“I keep my Batman identity a secret,” Jim explained. “I do this in an effort to maximize the number of non-Christians in the audience when I go to colleges. People can get information at www.whoisjimmunroe.com, but I don’t want to publish the real name.”
Jim is particularly passionate about reaching 18- to 25-year-olds because statistics show that agnosticism and atheism are rising while church attendance is rapidly decreasing.
“These are our future leaders, but they are so confused about life. Our culture says there is no truth, or that it’s based on what you feel is right,” Jim explained. “The root of the issue is deception. I can use the art of deception to show them they can’t live according to their own perceptions, that they must trust something greater than themselves. I help them see who created them and is longing to have a relationship with them.”
Not only are Jim’s performances compelling, but God has also given him an inspirational life story. In 2008 Jim was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of leukemia.
“I was 30 years old; my wife and I had two young children, and the doctor told me unless we did something soon, I would die in the next two or three months. It was the fight of my life.”
That fight not only saved his life, it led to a new life.
“Long story short, it turned out there was only one match out of 9 million names in the bone marrow registry,” Jim said. “The donor agreed to sacrifice blood to save my life. After a painful process, rounds of chemo and 40 days of isolation where they killed off my bad blood, the doctor said there was good news, that it was like I was born anew.
“Those words sounded familiar to me, and I realized God gave me a powerful story; students can’t ignore what’s happened to me,” he said. “Of course everybody laughs when I tell them that my blood now shows that I am a 19-year-old chick!”
Many hear his message and turn to God, others connect with a church or local ministry to guide them in their search, and others leave with questions to pursue; questions that are far deeper than, “How DID he do that?”
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]