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Rick Willison | Even the Blind Can See Miracles

Rick Willison, founder of Team Jesus Ministries Incorporated and the Extreme Team, joins Daniel King on the Evangelism Podcast. Despite being blind, Rick travels internationally on mission trips and uses feats of strength to share the gospel message. He explains the spiritual meaning behind each feat, such as breaking a baseball bat to represent breaking the devil’s grip and stacking and breaking walls of bricks to symbolize breaking down barriers between people and God. Rick encourages those with disabilities to focus on their spirit and soul and not let their limitations stop them from fulfilling God’s calling. He shares stories of miracles he has witnessed, including the healing of a paralyzed woman in India and the subsequent salvation of her entire village.

Learn More About Team Jesus: http://tjmi.net/


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:00):
Welcome to the Evangelism Podcast. I’m Daniel King and I’m excited about telling people about Jesus. Today I have a very special guest with me, Rick Willison from the Extreme Team. Thank you for being on the Evangelism Podcast.

Rick Willison (00:13):
Hey, my pleasure. Thanks for having me on there,

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:15):
Daniel. Now we are here in Cambodia together. Yes, and we have been together for the last few days. We first went to Thailand and did a music festival there, and then we were in Laos together. And yesterday we had a seven hour, well, we had a one hour plane ride and then a seven hour van drive here. And it’s absolutely amazing that you are on a mission trip like this because you are blind, you can’t see.

Rick Willison (00:46):
That’s correct.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:49):
Tell me a little bit about your extreme team ministry and what you do. Okay,

Rick Willison (00:56):
It’s pretty simple really. About 25 years ago we started a ministry. I used to be a youth pastor and an associate pastor, and then my cousin Taylor Michaels passed away. She ran all of Magic Johnson’s companies and we saw the legacy she left behind and it was amazing because she would go on to South Central Los Angeles, find good kids and say, listen, if you will just pull straight A’s, I’ll put you through any college you want. And she did that over and over and over again. Hundreds of kids, she’s put through college and even to this day, magic Johnson has a Taylor Michaels Foundation where they use utilize that to put kids through college. And so it’s amazing. At her funeral, over 1200 people were there and they got up and they just spoke about her and how they spoke into her life. And magic actually was the one who oversaw her funeral that day.

Off of that, my brother and I at the same time, his name is Tim T Dog, we called him. We had this idea that we really need to do more. We need to leave some sort of legacy behind. I mean, I was in church ministry and I enjoyed that, but I was always very evangelistic. I wanted people to really own their relationship with Jesus, not just say, well, I’m a Christian because I’m an American, or, Hey, my parents go to church, so I’m a Christian, or I’ve been in church my whole life, so I’m a Christian. I want ’em to have a clear understanding of that. And so I started a ministry called Team Jesus Ministries Incorporated. And the team is an acronym, I’m a big acronym. You’re the Daniel King. I’m the king of acronym, so it’s an acronym, TEAM stands for Tell everyone about my and then Jesus Ministries.

And so we began to start that. We became a nonprofit, and from that we started our Extreme team. And the reason we started the Extreme team was because I was in church one Sunday, the pastor was preaching, this is all coming together as we’re God’s speaking to my heart about going to beside the church instead of in the church and working and helping the church from the outside instead of just inside. And he said, if you knew you could do anything and know you wouldn’t fail, what would you be doing? And for me, because of my background in athletics and martial arts and the things I’ve done, I thought, well, I’d be breaking things and showing God’s power of sin and it means more than just breaking things. Everything I do has an object lesson involved and everything represents something. And at the same time, my brother was calling me and saying, what do you think about these strength teams?

We’ve seen ’em around the power team, different teams like this. And I said, I’ve been having the same ideas. And we came up with the extreme team and it’s very purposeful because we’ve seen the other teams, but we want it to be a little bit more purposeful even in what we did. And so even when you look at the name on my shirt, the Extreme Team, the X is a cross, and the message of the cross is that Jesus died for our sins, was laid to rest, raised three days later has gone and is preparing a place for us in heaven. And all those who call upon his name shall be saved. And so that’s a really radical message. People are either drawn to it or repelled away from it. And so the T-R-E-M-E and then TEAM, it’s an acronym. It stands for taking a radical evangelistic message everywhere to equip all mankind. And then Daniel, even how long

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:17):
Did it take you to come up with that? About

Rick Willison (04:20):
Five seconds. I mean, seriously, God just gave it to us. And that’s how acronyms work in my head. It’s like I hear something I almost said, I see something, I hear something. And immediately even when I’m preaching, I’ll come up, my wife will come up afterwards and go, oh, I really like that acronym. And I’ll go, what acronym? And she’s like, when you said hope holding on praying, I said, oh, I didn’t even know I said that. And so it’s like these things come to me and I just spew ’em out. But even that, Daniel, you look at our colors and when we have our full outfit on, it makes a big X on us because we believe we’re a target and we’re going to show people how to get to Christ and the colors, the red, the black and the white and all that, that stands for something.

The black represents sin, the darkness of our hearts. The red is the blood of Christ, and the white is what he makes us. When we put our faith in him, if he makes us a new creation, white is snow. And so everything we do, we do with a purpose. You’ve seen me do some of this stuff. I let a baseball bat represent the devil’s arm and the grip he has on humanity. But we know through what Jesus did, the Devil’s grip was broken. And so I’ll snap that bat and then what do I do with it? Immediately I hold it up into a cross because that’s how Jesus did it with what he did on a cross. And so walls of bricks represent walls of sin like fear, pornography and morality, hatred, disobedience, whatever it is. And so we’re bringing down those walls. The same with boards, phone books can represent, materialism, can represent the devil’s book and how he wants to destroy everybody’s name in it.

So everything has purpose and reason behind it because just to go and break things and bend things and do that kind of stuff, that’s useless. That’s just foolishness, right? But what we do is we realize, God just put in our heart that if we can show people the gospel, and this is kind of funny because I’m a blind guy, but I’m very visual in the things I do. And so I thought, man, if we could just show people the gospel message, maybe that would help them understand it better. So they would hear it and see it as well, something here. So they see it as well. And what we found is because we’re able to do that and because we’re very purposeful that people when they go, wow, when they see these feats of strength, whether it’s breaking ice or if you bricks on fire and breaking ’em or just snapping aboard over your head or something, right? They’ll go, wow. And then we can just slip in the gospel message into their life and they can taste and see that the Lord is really good.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:53):
Let’s talk about excuses because people often have a lot of excuses and Jesus said, go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. And some people feel they’re too old. Some people think they’re too young. Some people think that they don’t like being in a hot country and they don’t want to get sweaty, but they have all these excuses and you have an excuse that a lot of people think, oh, that’s a pretty good excuse. If anyone’s accepted from the Great Commission, it would be the blind guy. I mean, how can he travel internationally? But here you are, you’re not letting that be an excuse that keeps you from doing what God wants. But how do you manage to navigate being blind and coming to different countries around the world?

Rick Willison (07:39):
Well, I love what you said because one of the things we use the phone book for is excuses. And I tell people, you might think you can’t see, I can’t hear, I don’t know enough theology. I’m afraid they just have so many excuses. And even when we started this ministry and I started, I had a lot of people say to me, Rick, what if you get lost? Or what if you fall off a stage? Or what if you get arrested or what if this or it’s, it’s like the chicken little right? The sky is falling, the sky is falling. And I thought, what if we take the what ifs and we change it to? So if SOIF, right? And so if is an acronym that hit me as well, because, so if I do God’s will for my life, I’ll receive blessings from God and I’ll be able to help people come to the Lord.

And so if stands for stepping out in faith, and so we say, so if I go instead of what if this happens, I go, so if I go, good things can happen. And so it’s very interesting because as I travel around the world, God just travels with me. And even when I go through airports, they have a program meet and assist. You see people being pushed around in wheelchairs. There’s people who will walk with me or now I’m with my good friends on the same flight. So we just walk and I’ll put my hand with you. You’ve helped me a lot. So I put my hand on your shoulder, you just walk. I follow you. I’m a step behind you. I can feel everything you’re doing. We walk along and it works out perfectly. When I’m on stage, I’ll usually have somebody like you or Daniel’s been up there with me and others and they’ll stand beside me kind of back or whatever.

And even if I’m doing stuff, I can get moving around. If I kind of get turned away from the crowd, they just kind of give me a little nudge or a little turn and I’m back on track. And so I utilize, I mean, I know blind people that are blind out here watching us. They’re going, you’re supposed to be independent. It’s like you are. But I also believe we have to be part of a team. And so I have no problem utilizing my friends around me to help me be effective with how I speak, what I do, how I get places. And I don’t take the chances where I can get lost, get hurt, or anything like that. As you’ve seen, I’ll wait on people. It’s not a problem. I’m not willing to walk out into traffic just because I got to get there first or prove my point. So it’s really just being a part of a team and utilizing each other and whether you can’t see good or whatever it is, I still think Jesus sent ’em out two by two. I don’t think there’s a problem with this being together and walking and doing stuff together.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (10:09):
Let’s talk about some of the feats of strength that you do and describe the feat for me and then tell me what the spiritual meaning is that you communicate to the crowd.

Rick Willison (10:23):
Okay, so the first one we already said a little bit about, but let’s just throw it back out. There is a baseball bat, American baseball bat. And what I do is I let that represent the devil of the arm, the devil of the arm, the arm of the devil. I can almost speak today. I let that represent the arm of the devil, and then I’ll show it by putting it around. You saw that, I think I choked you with it. You put it around the arm and you say, oh, people think that the devil wants to be their friend. It’s no big deal. Going to point out fun things to do. And I have the bat with my arm around the person, but then I show him, because my job is to show you in a physical way what’s going on around you spiritually. So I pull that bat around your neck and I start choking you.

I’ll lay on the ground, I’m going to beat you with it and all that, but it would stand for the devil’s arm. And then I show what Jesus did on that cross snap the devil’s grip, the arm of the devil off our life, and I’ll press it on my leg and I’ll press it until it breaks, and then I’ll hold it up as a cross. There’s other things. You look at all those walls we talked about, I’ll stack up walls of brick, and honestly, if they want to see some of this, they can go on our Facebook page and they can go just do a search for TJMI. That’s the team Jesus Ministries incorporated the number nine, the number eight, the year we started. So TJMI 98. And it will put you onto that page and there’s videos and all kinds of stuff, pictures even from this trip are up there.

And you can also go to tj mi.net on the, and there’s a bunch of stuff on there as well, and you can see who we are, but everything has to have a specific reason. So the walls, we stack up big walls of bricks and we break ’em. It could be a wall between you and God that maybe you are struggling with addictions or you’re relationship issues or fear or pornography, sexual immorality or disobedience. I mean, any and every sin can go into those walls. Now what’s interesting is when we go places, even here, I’m not just demonstrating how to break and bend things. I’ve picked a fight with the devil and I have people back home praying for us constantly because we go in specifically to destroy what the devil is doing to people. That whole, he is come to kill, steal, and destroy. And so when we do that, the devil fights back and you saw it because you brought it up to me the other day.

You’re like, well, that bat took longer. That’s because we were in front of a crowd that doesn’t know who Jesus is. And the devil doesn’t want them to think that God’s got any kind of power. And it really is a spiritual battle. You’ve seen some bats, bam, they snap, right? Others are a lot harder. Bricks, I’ve broken, and my guys too, we’ll hit a wall of bricks and they’ll all break except for the bottom one. And then we will clear it out. We want the whole wall done. The most phenomenal thing I’ve ever seen, well, a couple things, but I’ll just share. One is we were in South Africa, we were doing our outreach, and one of the guys, boom man, he hit a stack of bricks and it went all the way down to one brick. And a friend of mine, Brad, he happened to be preaching that night and that was left up for some reason.

We always normally take ’em all the way down, but it was left up. And so you have nine bricks broken, one not broken, and it’s way up above where there’s scaffolding to get to it and all that, and it’s sitting there. Most phenomenal thing is he spoke about how the devil thinks he has power. And he said, you know what? And he said, God wants to destroy the whole wall of sin out of your life and God will bring those walls down. And he said, even that wall over there, God could bring it down. He goes, that wall right there. And he pointed at it and that bottom brick broke and the whole thing fell to the ground. And it was amazing because it shows what’s going on spiritually around us. And so you look at everything we do aboard is barriers between us and God. Hot water bottle is persevering as you put your faith in Christ because they’re super hard to blow up until they explode. And the steel is bars of steel that people are behind in jail and how Jesus took care of that. And we bend them into the Christian fish. So everything is very representative.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (14:41):
One of the things I’ve loved hanging out with you is you have a nonstop store of jokes. Yes, sir. So give us a really good joke.

Rick Willison (14:50):
Oh, okay. Let’s just put me on the spot. That’s awesome. Okay, so that’s kind of funny. I’ll just give you a good, they’re dad jokes and some say bad jokes, but they’re dad jokes. Okay, so what would you call a line of 100 rabbits walking backwards?

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (15:09):

Rick Willison (15:10):
A receding hairline. And for some guys out there going, that was more painful than funny, but it’s true.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (15:18):
Yeah. Alright, speak to people who maybe feel like they have some sort of disability in life that maybe someone’s blind, maybe they have some other disability, maybe it’s just a mental thing. What would you say to encourage them and to help them to achieve everything God’s called them to do?

Rick Willison (15:40):
I think that’s the key right there is where’s your focus, right? Is it on you? Because we can all have something. I mean, as handsome as Daniel is and talented, I’ve seen this guy, you

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (15:52):
Don’t know whether I’m handsome

Rick Willison (15:53):
Or not. I don’t know any ugly people either. So it’s all good. But as talented as he is and all that, there’s still things that you deal with and maybe nobody knows about it, maybe only your wife, whatever ministry partners, but there’s things you deal with and we all deal with something. Now, I don’t see well, and I often tell people, I’ve learned that some people are blind, some people are ugly. What do you get? I always make fun of my eyes. I always have fun with my eyes. I have a friend that he got in a surfing accident. He’s crippled from the neck down and yet the things he’s done in life, he’s gotten his bachelor’s degree, his master’s degree, he has a camp for disabled kids. He travels all over. Nick Voce is another one born with no arms, no legs, wanted to die, tried to drown himself.

And God pulled him out of that and said, no, the guy travels all over the world. Everybody listens to him because any child born like that in most countries is going to be snuffed out. They’re going to be put to death, right? Because it’s a terrible way to live, they think. But see, God still created us, and you have to get beyond the body and get to your spirit. Get to your soul and go, I am a man of God. I’m a woman of God. I can do great things. And so you can’t let eyes or hearing or being in a wheelchair or anything else stop you because you can still do something for God. Because God created Daniel, each and every one of us with a destiny and a purpose. God does not make any junk. He doesn’t make any garbage. He doesn’t make any throwaways, he doesn’t make any mistakes.

And it’s because of sin in the world that we have disease and sickness and all that. And it wasn’t of God’s doing, it was of man’s doing, deciding that we’d have sin in the world when Adam and Eve wanted to be like God. And so we struggle with that. We suffer with that sometimes, but we should never, ever let it stop us because even with me, when I go into other countries and people find out I’m blind, they don’t know what to do with me. They’re like, how can you be blind and do what you do? How can you be blind? It’s like I’m blind. My mind’s not broken. My mouth works. And even if you can’t speak or you struggle, man, you can write. There’s some way God wants to use you. And so you just dig in deep and you go, you know what?

I’m not a loser. I’m not a piece of garbage. I’m not a piece of trash. I was created with a dessan purpose. I’m going to figure out what that is. I’m going to pray. I’m going to fast. I’m going to talk to God and I’m going to let him open the doors to what he wants me to do, and then I’m going to step into it because if I listen to the world, I’m sitting at home, I’m collecting a government check, I’m eating Twinkies and getting fat and sassy, that’s my life. Instead, I’m out. Over the last 25 years, I’ve traveled around this world. I’ve been in a lot of countries, a lot of places I’ve been a part of leading over 300,000 people to the Lord just through our ministry, not including all these with you and collaborating with others and what goes on there. And if God I figured can use a blind guy like me, he can use everybody. Nothing special about it.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (19:01):
And so in all these years of ministry, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of miracles, a lot of testimonies. Let’s finish with a story, something amazing that you’ve seen God do.

Rick Willison (19:14):
Oh my goodness, so many. But let’s go back to 2008. Okay, we’ll just jump back there. This was an amazing trip. We were in India, we were in Chennai, Ronnie Pet, Valore City. We’re doing outreaches, we’re doing festivals at night. And every night we go down into the crowd and pray. And things we saw was a man delivered from demonic influence. And I fully expected as this screech came out of him, there was some cattle nearby for them to run into the cattle, and those cattle would run into traffic and get run over. I don’t know, but like the pig thing, right? But we also saw, I prayed for a kid who had a golf ball size thing on his head, and it was a tumor. And I prayed, God, it’s not big, long 5, 10, 20 minute prayers. It was just asking God to heal it.

And he had put his faith in Jesus, and I felt that just disappear under my hand. But the one that sticks out the most was a gal named Priscilla, and it was the same trip and she was so excited. She wanted us to come out to her little village area. She’s a wonderful woman of God. She helps out as much as she can, but she’d been hit by a vehicle three or four years earlier, and she was just crippled up. Her feet were all twisted. She couldn’t walk. She was paralyzed. I mean, it was all this stuff. And so we said, yeah, we’ll come out. And so we came out the whole team, and as we got out there and we started talking to her, they brought her out. They sat her in a chair and we were talking to her and one of the ladies, her name was Karen actually, she was a nurse.

She said, can we pray for her? And I said, yeah. And I had one of the team members pray. I said, why don’t you pray for it? And this gal bless her heart, because we’re Americans, we’re from the West, and we start praying these prayers and she started doing the same thing. Lord, please, if it’s your will, if you want to, we know you can just heal Priscilla. I know she probably won’t get healed today, but I know some days she’ll be dancing with you in heaven. And I stopped the prayer and I said, no. I go, that’s not how God tells us to pray. We’re apologizing for God to do a miracle before he even does it because we don’t think he’s going to do it. I said, we have to pray with authority. And I grabbed the pastor that was there because he was translating already this prayer from English to Tamil.

And I said, will you pray? Will you show these guys authority and pray and ask God to heal this woman? And I don’t know what he said because I don’t speak Tamil, but he prayed with boldness and confidence and he got done. And I was standing right there, and I said, Priscilla, stand up. Now. I don’t see good, but I know because I felt where her feet and all that. She stood up, okay, she’s paralyzed. She stood up and I said, I go, come to me. And Karen was right by me, the nurse. And so I put her right in front of me. I said, come to Karen. And every time she was walking, everybody’s like, wow, wow. And I kept moving. Karen back until Purcell had walked probably 25, 30 feet. And then she gave Karen a big hug, and then she sat down. I told her, no, get up.

I go, you’re healed. Celebrate. That was an amazing miracle. But this was the true miracle because all physical miracles are temporary, right? Because you die. Even Lazarus had to die again, right? We turned around, her entire village was out there watching this. And that gave us an opportunity to say, look, here’s who did this. Here’s who God is. Here’s who Jesus is, and the reason for miracles is to share the salvation message. And we turn and we watch this whole village put their faith in Jesus. That was a true miracle. Now, fast forward, as we’re back in the vehicle and we’re heading back, one of the guys, young guy, he says, Rick, he goes, because we’re celebrating, right? It’s awesome. He goes, Rick, he goes, you don’t understand. He goes her leg. I mean, you might thought that was some cool miracle, but her feet were all twisted up still.

And I go, I told him I won’t use his name, but I said, Hey man. I go, that’s a bigger miracle because she’s paralyzed and you’re saying she’s walking on twisted up feet. That’s awesome. Okay, so now fast forward a year, a year later, one of the guys that was with us, it was a guy from Passion for People. Brett Butcher his ministry. It was one of the guys that used to work with him. He was back in that same place, and him and his wife wanted to go see Prius. So they went to where she lived, she saw the vehicle pull up, and she saw Michael get out. This guy she ran, didn’t walk, didn’t crawl, didn’t have anybody carry her. She rant and lept into his arms and was praising God because her feet, her ankles, her legs, everything was 100%. Again, amazing thing to see. And the village was still all saved, still worshiping God, still doing God’s will for their life. And it was amazing. It was awesome.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (24:04):
What a great testimony. Well, if you’re listening and you have a church, you want to invite Rick to come minister, or if you want him to come to a school assembly or you want to invite him to come to your country, I encourage you to go find his Facebook page and find out more information about him. And give me the Facebook page one more

Rick Willison (24:26):
Time. So it’s TJ MI, the number nine, number eight, TJ MI 98. Just do a search and it’ll come up Team Jesus Ministries in the Extreme team. So pretty easy.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (24:37):
Awesome. Thank you Rick, so much for being on the Evangel of

Rick Willison (24:40):
Podcast. You bet. Thank you, buddy.

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