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Stephen Strang | Spirit Led Living in an Upside Down World

Stephen Strang leads Charisma Media. They publish Charisma Magazine which had reported on the Spirit-Empowered movement for decades. Today we talk about three books on evangelism being published by Charisma House: It’s Our Turn Now by Mario Murillo; Ignite Your Life by Barry Meguiar; & Spirit-Led Living in an Upside-Down World by Steve Strang.

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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, Steve Strang from Charisma Media. Thank you so much for joining me today,

Stephen Strang (00:11):
And I’m excited to be with you. You’ve, as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been excited.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:15):
Well, I love telling people about Jesus. Now, a charisma is a legend. When I was a teenager, I remember my mom and dad were subscribed to the Charisma Magazine and we would read all the stories of what God was doing around the world. And you have really been instrumental in helping ministries tell the world about Jesus for so many years. How did you get started in the whole publishing business and, and with the vision that God gave

Stephen Strang (00:47):
You? Well, I had an interest in writing and journalism going back to high school trained to be a journalist. And you know, there’s a lot of media that don’t even touch anything Christian or spiritual. And if they do, it has to have a, a hint of scandal or controversy or something. So when the heyday of the charismatic movement there was a need for what we did, and I’ve been doing it. And, and by God’s grace, we’ve grown into lots of other kinds of media, especially as a digital age came. I like to tell people that when I started charisma, we were still using manual typewriters, literally. And of course, all that has totally changed. Now, now a lot of what we do are books and we’ve sold millions of copies of books and and a lot of them have to do with evangelism. And really evangelism needs to be a part of everything in the spiritual life. It isn’t like some people are like Christians over here, and then we’ve got these few evangelists, and it’s entirely up to them. No, it’s entirely up to all of us.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (01:54):
And so you have several books here that you are publishing right now. Let’s start by talking about your brand new book. It’s called Spirit Led Living in an Upside Down World. That’s right. What is this book all about?

Stephen Strang (02:08):
Well, it’s about the power of the Holy Spirit, but in a way that’s almost like a cliche in, in especially in Pentecostal circles. Why does that exactly mean? A lot of things have been written about the Holy Spirit, everything from theological books to whatever. I try to take the look that we need that power more than ever. And I see a lot of people, even that claim to be spirit filled Christians, they don’t walk in it, they don’t experience, they’re discouraged. They feel like what I call the other side is winning again and again. And I’m saying that we have to have the power of the Holy Spirit to wa to experience the gifts of the spirit, the fruit of the spirit, just to survive. And I used the example that I heard from a preacher one time. He said that when you scuba dive the scuba gear will not keep you from getting wet, but it allows you to live in a hostile environment that would, that would kill a human being to be underwater for more than a minute or two.

But as long as you’ve got the scuba equipment and oxygen, you can stay down there indefinitely until the oxygen runs out. Well, to be in this upside down world. If we have the power of the Holy Spirit, we can have joy, we can have peace, we can have all these things, and we can live in this world regardless of if things are going right or not. And I think that that’s important. And then of course, if we’re gonna win the world at all or have any kind of impact on culture, it’s got to be through the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, I tell the story that you know, as several decades ago, we got reports as far back as the 1950s that that missionaries, Christian missionaries who went from America from denominations that denied the power of the Holy Spirit when they got into countries where they had to really battled demonic forces, that they found that they couldn’t get along without the power of the Holy Spirit.

And they, they began receiving the baptism of Holy Spirit, you know, often from maybe meeting other missionaries or whatever. Well, they had the power to confront demonic demonic forces that we weren’t accustomed to the United States. Now granted, we have demonic forces. There’s always been sin, but guess what we are now having, we’re seeing spiritual warfare at a level we’ve never seen before. And I talk in here about evangelizing not as a specific topic, but when I talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, one of them is the spirit a word of knowledge. And I tell a story about Reinhart Bonky, the great evangelist who got a word of knowledge that his brother, who instead of becoming a gungho Christian, evangels had entirely gone the other way, almost in an agnostic or atheist. And his brother was going through a very difficult time.

His brother lived in Germany, Reinhardt was in Africa at the time, and his brother had just lost his marriage. He was considering taking his own life. He had a dream about being on a bridge. Well, at the same time, the Holy Spirit revealed to Reinhardt, he had a very similar dream, and he felt he should write his brother a letter. His brother was looking for some kind of sign that God was real. He ended up getting powerfully saved. Now, this was before the days of email, and I tell the story much, much better in the book, but it’s an example of where a word of knowledge caused someone to come to Christ. And that’s only one of many ways that the power of the Holy Spirit can help us. To me personally, it’s the boldness, it’s the confidence. It’s the reassurance that God is with you causes you to be bold instead of timid. So I think that for any, any Christian, I, in fact, I believe that the spirit filled life, or as I call it, the Spirit-led life should be normative. It should be the normal Christian life. It was in the early church. Of course, all kinds of things happen and different denominations and doctrines and so on and so forth. But it ought to be the normative Christian life in the same way the sharing Jesus should be normative.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:39):
You have documented many different moves of the Holy Spirit over the years. What sense do you get of what the Holy Spirit is doing right now?

Stephen Strang (06:51):
Well, that’s a good question, and it leads me to my next book. I believe that something, you know, things have been pretty bad, but we’re starting to see a shift. The revival at Asbury University is one example, but Mario Marillo, who people might know from the Victory Channel, and of course he’s been around since the Jesus movement.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (07:11):
And Mario is a great evangelist. He is full on evangelistic. He gives the greatest altar calls. In fact, I was just at a meeting he did in Tulsa, Oklahoma recently, where they packed out the maybe center and he gave the altar call. And so many people were getting saved. They, they couldn’t even fit them all into the altar.

Stephen Strang (07:33):
Well, I happened to be at the same meeting, and I went specifically because of Mario. I was tremendously touched myself. And you’re right, he is a powerful evangelist. But he started having, during the Covid shutdown in California, where they were almost dracony in the restrictions they put on, he’s, people would flock to his tents. And now of course he’s going other. But his book, his new book, which just came out, I right after New Year’s says, it’s our turn now with the idea that God’s plan to restore America is within our reach. That’s what the subtitle is. And I, I believe, in fact, he and I talked about it, I did a podcast with him that he, he believes what’s happening at Asbury and a lot of other places is an indication that people are spiritually hungry and they’re coming to Jesus you know, even during really difficult times like Covid was and everything else that’s going on. So I think that this would encourage people, it would give them insight. No book is gonna be the answer to everything except the book, which is the Bible. But our books try to encourage people, give them hope, tell stories that they wouldn’t know otherwise. And Mario is a great example.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (08:53):
I would love to see God raise up a whole new generation that has the same boldness as Mario Marillo to share the gospel. Now we have another book here. It’s by Barry McGuire and it’s called Ignite Your Life. And it, it’s not specifically about evangelism, but he’s very evangelistic in it,

Stephen Strang (09:13):
Right? It really is on evangelism.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (09:15):
Tell, tell me about it.

Stephen Strang (09:16):
Well, Barry McGuire is from McGuire’s Car Wax. It’s a company that his grandfather founded in 1901. He really took it to great heights to where it is the number one car wax brand in the world. And he was raised a Christian, he’s been a spirit led Christian for many, many years. He tells the story of how he has shared his faith every single day for 40 years. And this is the only book he’s ever written. And it tells his story. And we talked about the fact, and I don’t, maybe I shouldn’t say this, but within the publishing world, books written on evangelism, evangelism generally don’t sell very well. Well,

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (10:03):
I’ve got a, a bunch of books I’ve written on evangelism, and that’s probably true. <Laugh> You, you wish they would because we wanna get people fired up, right? But then a book that has the secret to success does much better.

Stephen Strang (10:17):
Well, you know, there, I could talk since I’m a publisher for a long time about that, but people don’t very often read books they ought to read. People aren’t gonna buy a book that says you need to lose weight, you know, but they’ll read a book on how to get healthy, which may include losing weight. So we, this book kind of masquerades, maybe that’s not the best verb to use, but is his story. But his whole life is about leading people to Jesus and sharing his faith and being happy. He says, you’re so happy when you do this. And, and he talks about how, how he has energy, and he’s gone through some terrible ups and downs in businesses where he almost lost his business. At one point, his, his daughter tragically died as an fairly young adult. But the Lord brought him through because he had this passion to share Jesus and passion.

He, he gives a new definition to Romans 8 28, which is a very common scripture. All things work together for good, and Christians like to quote that. But the rest of the verse says, all things work together for good to those who are called according to his purpose. And why does the purpose of God that none should perish so that when you’re doing God’s purpose, which is sharing your faith, getting people to come to Jesus, that that’s when all things work together. And he elaborates on it much more than I am, tells this story in a very winsome way. And he has been enormously successful in lots of different venues. He had a television program on the Discovery Channel for like 18 years now. It was car crazy. It was about all these guys that love cars and they loved to sh and if they got a car, it’s gonna get the best shine with McGuire’s wax.

And, you know, they talk about all these things, but I’ll give you a personal example as I got to know him. As you know, as a professional, as a friend, before we did the book several times we would go out to eat without qu without exception. Some stranger would come up during the meal and say that, you know, he used to watch his car show with his dad, and they used to polish the car together. And, you know, this is the kind of feedback you would get. But, and often Barry would witness to these people right in front of us. And he also told stories that and he would also witness the waitress or the waiter. In fact, he told a story. He was in a restaurant in Springfield, Missouri, of all places. And he, and he asked the waitress, he said, when the food comes, we’re gonna pray.

We’re Christians, is there something we can pray for you about? And she said, yes. She said that a family member was almost in depression, that his daughter had been raped and brutally murdered, and he was just having a horrible problem and was very discouraged, obviously. And so Barry gave her his business card and wrote his cell phone number on it. Well, she called and told him, turns out he’s a car. Crazy guy. Watched him on tv. Couldn’t believe that the Mary McGuire reached out to him. Wow. And so he called Barry, Barry was able to share with him that he lost his daughter. Now she died of a disease, not a brutal murder, and was really able to minister to the guy. And again, he tells the story much better than I am. But that’s an example. And actually, I learned from his example that when I go into a restaurant, I did it twice this week, I will ask the server their name and say, is there anything we can pray for you about?

And it’s very interesting to see the expression on their face just instantly. Usually they have to think a little bit about it. I’ve had waitresses break down in tears. One lady said she was having a really bad day, and we said, well, we’ll pray for you. You’re better. She came back later and said, this morning I was with a friend, as the friend died. Wow. Now they knew the friend was dying. And she went there to comfort the lady, and she said she really appreciated us praying. One time I was with a friend and we prayed or asked the waitresses, we prayed for her. About 10 minutes later, another waitress came back and said my friend was back in the kitchen telling everyone that you’re praying for her. Would you pray for me? Now, we, we don’t always get that response. Sometimes people wanna pray for world peace or the war in the Ukraine or something like that, and we’re fine.

We’re sometimes we just pray a blessing on people. But that is a way to move people a little bit closer to Jesus. And it opens a door instead of just being strangers, you’re someone who care. And very, very often people say, even the ones who say world, pray for world peace, will just say, I really appreciate you reaching out like that. And it’s sort of a non-threatening, socially acceptable way to do it. And you know, there are some people that are just so hostile to God that they’ll practically curse at you. And I’ve, I’ve wondered if I would experience that. And I’ve done this dozens of times and have ne have never had anybody be rude. And, but it’s also touched me that I could tell that a lot of these people has have nobody to pray for them. And there’s been several that I felt led to to pray for on an ongoing basis.

I mean, as the Lord would bring the them to my mind. And you know, this is evangelism at a very low level, but it’s a door opener. And Barry is a good example. And, and when I first got to know him, I said to myself, how in the world do you share the four spiritual laws with somebody every single day? <Laugh>, I found that a lot of times he would speak to someone about the Lord and it would be simple. Something as simple as praying for a waitress. But I believe that that’s valid. And the fact is he does it day in and day out. He has led many, many people to the Lord from this very simple thing. And anyone, well, first of all, is a good story. I mean, it’s an American success story. And you get to know something about his life.

Like you read about the life of a great man or woman of the past. He of course is still with us. But beyond that, I think that people just can catch something of his spirit. That this isn’t something you just sit in a class and you take an exam and on do, do evangelism the right way. You memorize the script, so to speak. And maybe that works for some people, but it, it doesn’t work for most people. And people just think it’s hard. I’m gonna do it wrong. I’m gonna embarrass myself. No, it needs to be an outflow of everything in your life as we’re led by the spirit of God.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (17:31):
Even if you’re passionate about cars, God can use you to bring people to Jesus. And especially in the car world, you have people that would be interested in this book who are into cars that would never go to a church. Absolutely. And so God will give him a voice to reach people.

Stephen Strang (17:47):
And he knows all the statistics when you’re with He He’ll wax eloquent about car guys, which they say include women, women can be car guys too. It’s almost like a huge fraternity or something. And, and he, we talked about this, that a lot of people that know him for television or certainly McGuire’s Car Wax, will read the book outta curiosity and they’ll get the Christian message.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:15):
Let’s talk for a moment about Charisma Media. There are a variety of ways that you help a lot of ministries. You, you have articles that go up every day about what God is doing around the world. You also have a podcast network, and I have several friends that are on your podcast network and, and you’ve helped a lot of people start to have a voice in different areas that that wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. And you have this, this, this publishing. How can people find out more about what you do?

Stephen Strang (18:49):
Well, we have many websites. They could go to charismamedia.com, they could go to my own website, which is stevestrangbooks.com. Find out the books I’ve written. I’ve only written a handful of books. I’ve published a lot more. And but, you know, this is not about us. Yes, we’d like for them to subscribe to our charisma news.com website or our website for Charisma Magazine, so on and so forth. But we’re just trying to do what we can to get out the message. And we’re blessed to live in a great country where people can afford to buy books or they can afford to buy magazines. Although a lot of the things like podcasts and other things, and the websites of course, are absolutely free supported by advertising. But but I’d like to, I could tell people that with my book, it can be pre-ordered on amazon.com.

It, it won’t be released until May 15th, which is just a few days before Pentecost Sunday. Actually, the pre-orders help us Amazon holds onto the pre-orders and then they bill your credit card when they ship you the book, the day it comes out. And it helps get a momentum going. The New York Times looks at all those numbers, so it would help me if you wanna help me by ordering it. These other books are available in stores. You know, we like to say wherever Christian Books are sold, that’s not literally true because you always miss some places going, buying it from some of the online book sellers, including our own. It’s called My Charisma shop.com, where you’re buying directly from the publisher, but it’s usually easier for people cuz they have an Amazon account setup, Duane, Amazon, and these, these are great books. I just got the numbers this week.

They’re both doing very well as new books and, and I’m just you know, we do many books and yes, they’re all important, but I, but I believe so strongly in both of these books, these books that I’m wanting to push them. And I will just say that when I was 20 years old, if you can imagine me being 20 years old, I was in impacted by Mario, who’s a few years older than I am. He was already a dynamic fiery evangelist. And I went to a conference, actually, I went, actually after I was so impacted the first time I made it a point to go to some other conferences he was at, and actually went to Resurrection City in Berkeley, which was what they called their ministry back in the day. I was powerfully impacted by him, had no idea that our lives would intertwine like this. And I’m just really honored to be able to publish his book.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (21:30):
Well, thank you so much for being on the Evangelism podcast. I I’m very thankful for your life. I remember a few years ago charisma did a little article about our ministry and, and since I’d grown up reading Charisma, I was like, wow, now I’ve really made it in ministry. So thank you so much for your,

Stephen Strang (21:46):
It’s not just a one and done. You know, as, as stories happen, as new initiatives are taking place we like reporting that people are tired of just bad news. People are tired thinking that Christians are always losing. No, there’s a lot of good things going on and part of our place in the media ecosphere is to report these kinds of things. So you need to help us by letting us know what God is doing in your ministry.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (22:18):
Thank you Mr. Strang. Appreciate you being on The Evangelism Podcast.

Stephen Strang (22:21):
Thank you for the honor.

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