I got out after four years and opened up a design company.  My dad always taught me that what makes me different was my ability to cartoon.  Every time my father was home, I’d have a paper and pencil and beg him to show me how to draw.  He taught me the Disney style.  But during all of this, it was like God was pruning me.  When things would go bad, I would think, “Why me?” But God was pruning me to get ready.

Annabelle:  Tell me a little bit about that – about how God came into your life.  I understand you weren’t exactly expecting to become a Christian when you took on that church project.

Bruce:  No! (laughs)  I got a phone call from a children’s pastor in Arkansas, and I was like, what is this?  I’d never even heard of a children’s pastor before!  Well, he’d seen my website and wanted to fly me out there to look at a space that he wanted developed for kids.  So I met with him, did some sketches and a model then drew up a contract.  It took seven months to build it, and I sent it up there on an 18-wheeler. 

All the while, I was preparing myself to refuse them when they asked me to come to church.  I just knew they would, and I was all prepared to say, “No thanks – that’s not for me.”  But I was there two weeks with my team, and nobody asked me anything or invited me to come to church.  At that time in my life, I was starting to lose faith in mankind.  I’m from New Jersey and nobody is nice to you there, but at this place, people were so nice.  They were bringing us food and talking to us and helping us – it was amazing.  But they never tried to convert me or anything.

Then one day, I was in the gym looking at these vignettes set up for Halloween, where they had all these stories and kids came dressed as their favorite Bible characters. A little girl came up and asked me to draw a whale, then told me I wasn’t drawing it right. I was thinking, ‘Look, kid. I’ve been drawing whales since before you were born!’  But I asked her why it wasn’t right, and she said that I needed to draw it with its mouth open.  That surprised me.  “Why?” I said.  And she said, “Don’t you know the story of Jonah and the Whale?”  I didn’t, so she told me.

I was blown away.  I mean, here was a man that God talked to, who ran away, who got eaten by a whale, then spit out on the beach.  I said to her, “You gotta be kidding me.  That story’s in the Bible?”  So I went around that Halloween night, learning all these Bible stories.  I was 40 years old at the time and I had never – never – heard any of these stories.  I was like, these stories are truly in the Bible?  They’re better than any Disney movie out there! I was just totally blown away.

Annabelle:  So how did that lead to your conversion?

Bruce:  I went to a luncheon with some businessmen and these pastors, and while I was there, I just blurted out that my sister had died, my father had died, and my brother’s baby had died.  I had not had a good life, but all the while, I was thinking to myself, “Shut up!  Shut up!”  I was a very private person and I never talk about stuff like that.  But someone turned to me and said, “You know, Bruce, we didn’t bring you here to talk about dying, but while we’re on the subject, did you ever think about going to heaven to see them, when you die?”  I said that no, I hadn’t, and they led me to Christ right there.  I just fell to my knees and all these men, all these pastors, just gathered around and laid hands on me.  Then we prayed – we prayed hard.  When I came up from kneeling, I felt like I was floating.  It was like walking over to a wall. When you hit the light switch, you finally get why you are there.