AlongTheWay

Desperation Changes Your Season - Tom Hollis' Journey AlongTheWay 06

May 20, 2019 John Matarazzo / Tom Hollis Season 1 Episode 6
AlongTheWay
Desperation Changes Your Season - Tom Hollis' Journey AlongTheWay 06
Chapters
AlongTheWay
Desperation Changes Your Season - Tom Hollis' Journey AlongTheWay 06
May 20, 2019 Season 1 Episode 6
John Matarazzo / Tom Hollis

RealLife Host, Tom Hollis, shares his life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit. His time as a missionary, being called off of the mission field and working in TV ministry. 

Discover how Tom learned God’s faithfulness AlongTheWay

His AlongTheWay moments include 

  • Ministry with Campus Crusade 
  • A life-empowering encounter with the Holy Spirit
  • Being a full-time YWAM Missionary 
  • Surviving a dry season
  • Preaching the gospel on TV

-Books

-Watch Tom Hollis on RealLife

- Go to reallife.CTVN.org to watch recent episodes of RealLife
AlongTheWay
Email me - johnalongtheway@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript

RealLife Host, Tom Hollis, shares his life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit. His time as a missionary, being called off of the mission field and working in TV ministry. 

Discover how Tom learned God’s faithfulness AlongTheWay

His AlongTheWay moments include 

  • Ministry with Campus Crusade 
  • A life-empowering encounter with the Holy Spirit
  • Being a full-time YWAM Missionary 
  • Surviving a dry season
  • Preaching the gospel on TV

-Books

-Watch Tom Hollis on RealLife

- Go to reallife.CTVN.org to watch recent episodes of RealLife
AlongTheWay
Email me - johnalongtheway@gmail.com

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/AlongTheWay)

Tom Hollis :

34 years old and didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always wanted to be a missionary. What am I going to do now? There's, there's a song that was popular at the time, it said, asking me and I will give the nations as an inheritance for you. And there's a verse there that says, Here I am, send me to the nation's as an ambassador for you. And so they're singing that I cross my arms and I'm like, I'm not singing that God. I'm not singing that. I told you. I'd go wherever you want it. And he sent me back to Pittsburgh. And then what's this? God, I'm supposed to be a missionary. What am I back here working in a warehouse.

John Matarazzo :

Welcome to along the way. I'm john Mater. So your host and fellow traveler, thank you for joining me along my way, as I try to become more like Jesus every day. I love what I have the opportunity to talk with fascinating people and learn how God has met them along their way. I believe that everyone has a story, and we can all learn from each other's journey. Through my work as a TV producer, I get to interact with some of the most amazing people making an incredible impact for God's kingdom. In this episode of along the way, my journey connects me with a longtime friend, Tom Hollis, he's also one of the hosts of the TV show that I produce real life on Cornerstone network. Tom, thank you so much for joining me along the way.

Tom Hollis :

I'm glad to be here. JOHN. I've been looking forward to this.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, it's a it's wonderful that, you know, we're friends here at work. But we've been friends for a while, because of our use of the mission connection.

Tom Hollis :

And we got to know each other from the days from my days of being with ease of the mission where you were, you're on the board still. I'm on the board of youth with a mission. But I think I know you more because youth with the mission was at one point, it was out at our church they used to building on our church property. So you were coming to church all the time. And I got to know you that way.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah. And train some of the missionary teams that you've led?

Tom Hollis :

Oh, yes, thank you very much for that took a lot off of me. I love taking teams, I love taking teams that are prepared and don't just, you know, the team can just show up and it can be good. And usually the local missionaries are prepared for that. But when I take a team, I like to have a team that's kind of prepared and has some training on how to do ministry and has some things practiced.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, one of the reasons that I want you on this show is you're one of the hosts of the real life program to work with you. Where you're in front of the camera a couple days a week. And so you're interviewing people and talking with people. And so it's kind of flipping the script a little bit interviewing you. Well,

Tom Hollis :

this might be easy these your side of the microphone, actually, it will see that you've been a cornerstone television for a while. 21 years. Anyway, I came in 1979 1997 excuse me, that would have been 79 was when we started. wasn't here, the beginning. Although I always knew about Cornerstone and knew about their ministry from the earliest days, right? You know, came as the person in charge of the prayer ministry, and you know, the whole thing of television and Christian television and prayer ministry and being on the air and all that was totally new to me.

John Matarazzo :

Your history starts obviously, before you started working at Cornerstone television. But let's back up a little bit and talk about your your life story kind of leading into where you are now.

Tom Hollis :

Sure, you know, I grew up in a family that was at least believed in the basics of Christianity. My dad and my mother did not go to church when I was young. They, my dad would listen to preacher sometimes. And I think in a way he loved the Lord, but he wasn't really following him close. My mother had grown up Catholic, was actually a nominal Jehovah's Witness for part of religion, early part, yeah, for the early part of my life, because her sister was a Jehovah's Witness. My dad, sort of the please, my mother, I think kind of went to some Jehovah's Witness meetings and things like that we even had them come to our house occasionally. But my dad always knew that there really wasn't the right way he had grown up in a Christian home, he had grown up with the gospel. And when he was about 3435, he really dedicated his life to Lord, my mother also came on board. My dad used to take us and drop us off at church, you know, on a Sunday, and he would go do whatever and then come pick this up. Well, then that all changed when he rededicated his life. And all of a sudden, we were all going to church as a family.

John Matarazzo :

Well, what happened in his life that he made that decision.

Tom Hollis :

It's interesting what God used. My dad had been a very thin man, like most of us houses are very thin, growing up, and then he had put on a lot of weight. And he was right. In the late 60s, when the job craze it kind of hit, he began that he became a health fanatic. And he was he was eating right. He was running, he was lifting weights. And he lost like 50 pounds. And at the same time that he was getting his health in order, he decided it was time to get his spiritual life in order. And he stopped drinking, he stopped smoking. He started attending church and started to live out what he really knew to be right. And so that that was the real, it was interesting that the Lord use that health angle, though to be the the impetus to get him to follow him more closely.

John Matarazzo :

So obviously, your father's decision to really live for Christ had an effect on you. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Tom Hollis :

Well, Dad was big on doing what's right. You know, he dad was the kind of guy that always told the truth, that was kind of guy that always was at work, and then ever take days off, he showed up where he was supposed to be at the throne time. And, you know, you can't help but see that he was also the kind of dad that could put the fear of God and yeah, and when he said, I'll, you know, if I ever see a smoking, I'll just make you smoke the whole pack and you'll get so sick, that you'll never want to smoke again. And he he, you know, was very loving guy and also but also very strong at times and what was right, it was always about what was do the right thing, you know. And so, you know, when it came time for me to begin to make my own decisions about what I was going to do with the Lord. I could easily have not chosen the right thing. But I did choose the right thing, in many ways. You know, I came to the Lord when I was like 12 years old, came one forward in church, they were preaching the gospel. And I accepted the Lord at that point. But I didn't know what it meant to really follow God. I didn't know his acceptance and his love. There were times I pray when I was 1415 years old and was like, well, is that good enough? Does God accept that, you know, and but then when I was going to college, my dad said, Well, I wonder if they have Campus Crusade for Christ because I was going to a secular colleges state school. Slippery Rock, you know, just north of Pittsburgh. And I really liked the school. But he had said, Campus Crusade for Christ the first time that I had ever heard those words in my life. And I was like, I don't not enough. I want to be involved with the Christian group. But it's funny as I walked in the front door, and I approached the information desk, right behind the guys at the information desk was a giant well about a three foot tall pink sign that said hot pink, so it couldn't miss it said, Are you a Christian? So if God was trying to get a message through to me, he got it through his name. If you're a Christian, why don't you come fellowship with us Campus Crusade for Christ? And wow.

John Matarazzo :

So you like from the very beginning? You? You know, you said dad told me about this group. Here they are, I'm going to be a part of it.

Tom Hollis :

Well, and I didn't really know if I wanted to be, but I went to their first meeting. And then they said, well, we're looking for people and and they mentioned my dorm, to being a Bible study. And I wasn't really sure I wanted to be in a Bible study. But I went and talked to the guy and ended up in a Bible study. So God was directing my path to follow after him. And I did a lot with Campus Crusade for years there.

John Matarazzo :

So your intention to go to school was for what degree or what were you? Well,

Tom Hollis :

actually, I was going to be a physics teacher. I wanted to do that I liked sports and wanted to be a physics teacher. As I went through, I got disenchanted with the idea. I became more and more involved in ministry, through Campus Crusade. And halfway through my college experience, a big thing happened in my life that changed the course of my direction, forever. And that was being filled with the Holy Spirit. And that came in quite a miraculous way. And I had been seeking God about it for many months. And then I just received one day in the summer, when I was praying for it. Would you like to hear the story?

John Matarazzo :

Absolutely.

Tom Hollis :

I really want to hear that kind of story. So I've been praying, my sister had begun to go to a charismatic church. And again, this is in the middle of the charismatic movement, a lot of stuff is how years 7576 somewhere in there. And so anyway, I had heard and we had known about the you know, the gift of speaking in tongues and and the baptism, the Holy Spirit, although my church that I grew up in and got saved and did not teach that. But anyway, I began to seek my sister had received she had been attending this keras church, as I said, in the evenings, their their young adults group. And so she told me about it. So I began to seek the Lord about this. And I began to pray, Lord, fill me with your spirit. Now I had prayed in my church that I grew up in, to be sanctified. That was what they called being filled with the Spirit basically, is you're sanctified, you're set apart following God. But anyway, I kept praying to be filled with the Spirit and nothing at all. I wanted to speak in tongues and nothing was happening, nothing was happening. And finally, I got the opportunity to go to one of these Jesus festivals that they had made kind of like creation festival now or something like it like a Christian Woodstock, Christian Woodstock, and it was back in those days, it was a Christian Woodstock, let me tell you, there were lots of Jesus people was kind of the tail end of the Jesus people movement, but there was a lot of that still there. And it was just great. So many people together worshiping the Lord and I was enjoying it. And as it came towards about six o'clock in the evening, pat robertson came out to lead prayer. And that's all he was there for that day was the lead prayer. So like, everybody came to these festivals. And he had us getting groups of like, 15 and hold hands. And he said, okay, pray for the person on your left. So I'm praying for this. I hardly know these people pray for the person on my left, pray for the person on your right. So I prayed for the person on my right. And then he said, Pray for yourself. So I'm like, Okay, this is going to happen. Now, Lord, I'm going to receive the Holy Spirit now. And I, I prayed, Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit. And nothing happened. And I was getting frustrated. And I started to get kind of straight with God. And I said, Lord, if it's your will, I'd really like to speak in tongues and receive that gift. Nothing happened. And I got angry, I kind of got mad. And I said, God, I claim that I can speak in tongues based on what it says in your word. And John, it was like, a bolt of lightning hit me on the top of my head. And I began to speak in tongues. Nobody said, say this, nobody trained me. It just came out. And I begin I've had I've received the fullness of the Spirit at that moment. And it's been there ever since.

John Matarazzo :

Have you ever asked God? I'm sure you have. But have you ever asked God? And has he responded? Why he had you ask just to let let that little bit more.

Tom Hollis :

I think God responds to us when we are desperate for him. Okay. And I had been asking in a certain way that was not really totally desperate. It was sort of an almost, I wanted the baptism, the Holy Spirit. But I, I think I had been asking kind of just like casually, even though I was seeking Him, but not like that day, not like that day where I was just like, I am going after God for this. And I, my emotions took over I sought the Lord strongly there. And he responded, I do believe that when I pray, prayed in my church several years before, to be sanctified, I believe I was at that point filled with the Holy Spirit. But the fullness of the charismatic of the the the gifts of the Spirit had not been given to me yet. And so that's what I received that day.

John Matarazzo :

So what is the biggest difference between the earlier version of Tom versus the experience of getting filled with the Holy Spirit and the power of the Holy Spirit? What is the difference between pre Tom versus post Tom?

Tom Hollis :

Well, I had already been serving the Lord. But all of a sudden, there was this new zeal to serve the Lord. Now, some people say that lasts for a month, and that's about what it did for me three or four weeks, I was like, super zealous. I was like, oh, man, I was, I couldn't stop talking about the Lord and, and, and all those things. And, and that kind of that that super duper experience sort of wears off. But it was the beginning of me really saying, Hey, you know what, I don't want to do anything else except tell people about Jesus. That's all I want to do with my life. I don't want to, I don't want to be a teacher. I ended up switching my major majoring in history just to get out of college with a degree. Okay. never did any student teaching or anything. And, uh, but I knew I wanted to go into ministry at that point. Yeah.

John Matarazzo :

So what was your first step into ministry?

Tom Hollis :

Well, backing up a little bit before then I got involved with Campus Crusade. Now, one thing I liked about them, even though they're basically Baptist organization, nothing wrong with that any Baptists are listening. I love the Baptist Church. But they don't, you know, they didn't believe in speaking in tongues, but what they did believe in, was preaching the gospel. And they trained you how to preach the gospel. And I don't mean preach in the sense of standing up in a pulpit. I mean, share the gospel with someone, right. And they use something called the four spiritual laws, and we were trained and how to do that. And so, you know, I wanted to do that, even that I want to do never understood a Christianity that was just kept to yourself. I never understood a Christianity that was inside the church. I wanted to have a Christianity that took seriously, hey, this gospel must be preached to the whole world, you know, that the Great Commission mattered. And so there was another really good Christian group on a campus that was a charismatic group. But even after being filled with the Spirit, I stayed with Campus Crusade because they were the ones I they, they put me at one point, they put me in charge of evangelizing this one wing of a dorm, a big wing with a lot of rooms that I went door to door and every single room and that, and they trained you how to do that, you know, there was a, there was a method to it. And so I always felt that I should be involved in that. That's cool.

John Matarazzo :

And so you spent some time in youth of the mission as well.

Tom Hollis :

Yeah, when I got out of college, I had a pretty big debt. And I worked some years paying it off and got married to Jeanne In the meantime, she met her through Campus Crusade, which is another interesting story. But we, you know, I had heard of youth with a mission. And it seemed to really fit what I wanted to do, right? They're all about it. Well, I didn't want to go to seminary, I didn't want to preach on Sunday morning, I wanted to go tell somebody about Jesus, somewhere, somebody who didn't know him. And so, you know, I, after seven years of paying off debt, and, you know, doing other things, still involved in ministry of various types, we decided to go to youth with a mission. And I think it was the fall of 85. And joined up with YYM in Concord, New Hampshire, which train there and join the staff there. And how long were you a part of that five years, after five years, and I did a lot of things with them. I was a training director, lead some lead outreach is saw a lot of people come to the Lord, and really got close to a lot of the people there, you really do when you've spent months with them and gone out and gone to war with them out on the streets preaching the gospel? You really get close to people. Absolutely.

John Matarazzo :

So Tom, what was the first thing that you remember that God spoke to you? God had to be speaking to you along the way, in some of these steps that you've taken, changing your major in college, being a part of Campus Crusade, you know, deciding that you, hey, I need to pay off this debt, and then going back into ministry, it would have been really easy to just continue, hey, I'm making money now. I've got a family. How did God lead you into that next step? How did you hear him? What did he say?

Tom Hollis :

God uses various things to speak to me sometimes he speaks to me directly now that that is been developed over a period of time. He uses other people to speak to me quite often. I'll give you an example. That that an entire time of my life, where was I going to go into YOM I paid off my college debt. And that was I going to go into YYM without which is not a paid positions is not a paid position. So yes, you're in support, gotta raise your own support and to be saddled with college debt would have been a very difficult thing to raise enough support to cover that. But you're right, I had a child by then. And my, I was paid a visit by someone who has become one of my best friends in the world, Simeon CL, and his wife, Joyce, who grew up in our church. And Simeon was a Chinese descent person from Singapore. And he was in YYM, they were both in youth with a mission. And they were talking to me, Simeon was talking to me one night about was I really going to go, and he challenged me said, if you don't go soon, you won't go. And he was right. Because life tends to have a nurse, you tend to you get into a, I don't want to say a rut, because it can be a good thing. But you can get into a way of living. And it's hard to throw a monkey wrench into that way of living. And so, but that was a challenge that I took seriously. And all of a sudden that kind of reawakened all those desires, to want to share the gospel with people, and to be a missionary. And so that was in the spring of 85, I think. And then in the fall of 85, is when we we went in so in that time, God use the person to speak to me, he certainly uses his word to speak to me and has many times. In fact, when I was seeking God, shortly after being baptized in the Holy Spirit, I was reading in the Living Bible, which I was reading at that time. And and I saw a verse. And I'd never heard anybody use this verse before, or say anything about it was acts 2024. And it was Paul speaking. And he said this in the Living Bible, it's but life is worth nothing, unless I use it to do the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus, the work of telling others the good news of his mighty kindness and love. And that just stuck in my heart and my life, so not worth anything. Not that life couldn't be good. But my life was set apart to tell people about Jesus Christ. I think we're all called to do that. But he distinctly called me that day.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, so you spent five years in youth with a mission, and then God calls you out of it. That was a difficult experience. For me. Whenever I left with

Tom Hollis :

this horrible experience, it was really ties to teach on how to leave YY, and become a, say, a successful Christian. And then I left YYM and didn't stay very successful. Christian, tell me about that. So I was 34. And when we left why, well, I remember I had sort of waited to get into ministry, I was 29, when I went into youth with a mission and had worked many years, every seven years or so a regular job. So anyway, I fit while I'm fit, like a hand in glove to me, and all of a sudden, we weren't there anymore. And all of a sudden the structure that was around me, and the vision that was around the support and the support, and the people and everybody kind of got pulling in the same direction. It wasn't there anymore. So I was 34 years old, and didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, you know, I, I always wanted to be a missionary. What am I going to do now? And so I tried to get a job, and I did, but I didn't wasn't happy. And, you know, we'd be in church. And there's, there's a song that was popular at the time, it said, asking me and I will give the nation's as an inheritance for you. And there's a verse there that says, Here I am, send me to the nations. Yeah, as an ambassador for you. And so they're singing that, and I cross my arms and I'm like, I'm not singing that. God, I'm not singing that. I told you. I'd go wherever you want it. And he sent me back to Pittsburgh, you know? And then what's this? God, I'm supposed to be a missionary. What am I back here working in a warehouse for? You know, and and so I really struggled. I'll tell you it was several years years, I was in a funk about Sure. I didn't know whether to go to seminary maybe and pursue a pastor it. I didn't know. You know, I was in a funk. And it took a while for me to get out of that.

John Matarazzo :

How are you sure that God was leading you out of Why? Well,

Tom Hollis :

I wasn't sure. That way. Let's, here's what happened is in 1990, the YYM base in New Hampshire was closing, they were shutting down. It was a very successful base had over. Like, there were times where there was like 5060 staff, okay. And, and, and big DTS is different, you know, training schools, yeah, discipleship, training schools, and very successful. But there wasn't a lot of vision to where we were going beyond that. And, and there was all this vision and around New York City, a friend, both of us know, Nick's Volkow was opening up a base in the Greater New York City area. And the leadership at the time felt like they should close down and combine and we were gung ho, we were like, okay, we've we've done tons of ministry in New York City, I love New York. And, and we were like, We prayed. And we said, okay, we're going to go down there and be part of the ministry down there. Then I took the team for a week, down there. And I was like, and I felt totally uncomfortable. I was like, this was before we had moved. Sure. And I took a team down there. And I was like, God, this feels weird. I love New York, but I don't feel comfortable here at all right now. I don't I just don't, I don't feel comfortable considering being here full time. There's nothing wrong. It was just a feeling from the Lord. And so I went back and I told Jane, I said, we better pray some more. So we prayed some more, we felt like we're supposed to come back to Pittsburgh. For a rest we said, I mean, we had been hitting it pretty hard for like in 1989. And I was gone from home, seven out of 12 months, okay. And kids at the time I did, but they were with me six out of the seven. So a young family. That's one thing as your kids are starting to get into school and things that's really harder to bring it to keep that schedule up. So anyway, I am, you know, we we felt like we should come back. But man coming back was not easy. Not easy at all.

John Matarazzo :

So So you came back to Pittsburgh, you felt like God was leading you back here. But I'm sure it felt like God was kind of leading you into a wilderness.

Tom Hollis :

Very much so and I, I, you know, I had a job, I didn't really like that much work there for two years got another job that was with a very good company, very progressive, empowering type of company. I learned a lot from them. In fact, I think God had me there to learn what I would need later in life, some of the things about planning some of the things about goals and objectives, and, and just relationships. Anyway, after five years there, was becoming antsy again, and I said to Jean, I don't know, this is really a lot of stress. I'd really like to maybe look for something else. And she spoke the word of the Lord to me, I always said, I'm going to write a book that is titled God sounds like my wife.

John Matarazzo :

Okay. That's a great,

Tom Hollis :

great title. I she said, you really want to be in ministry. Why don't you look for a ministry job? I said, Oh, like the light bulb came on, like, Oh, I can actually get paid for ministry. And so being in YYMU, that doesn't even it doesn't even compute, right. So I, I started, I looked, talk to Tim Bergen, who I knew previously and I know he worked at Cornerstone, but I wasn't really thinking of cornerstone. He gave me some advice. And he said, You know what, why don't you give me a resume, we might be looking for somebody at cornerstone. And then in a few months, it took a while and a few months, I got a call from Ross Bixler. And when you get a call from in Pittsburgh from Russ Bixler that's like that's pretty big time. And Russ is the founder, founder of cornerstone. And he said out Tom, I got your resume, I'd like you to come over to my house and talk to me and my wife, Norman. So I will sure Russ be glad to get this like, like the pope calling you over something, you know. And we had a wonderful visit. He said they were looking for the ministry coordinator job. And at first I wasn't really interested. But a Gina kept Jean kept pushing me a little bit saying, you know, again, that was that thing of not wanting to change the inertia here, I was unhappy, not completely unhappy, because I was doing all right with my company. But I was not it wasn't what I really wanted. But the inertia of life was kind of keeping me in that rut, or in that path. And gene was helping to get me out a little bit. And so I ended up coming here. And yeah, October of 97.

John Matarazzo :

Wow. And so you've had a lot of different jobs around here.

Tom Hollis :

Two main ones will now three main ones. I was the prayer ministry coordinator for 10 years, the program director who I DD Hayes, who I loved a lot, we saw an eye on a lot of things. She had passed away fairly unexpectedly. She had had cancer and passed. And they asked me, Ron Henry, at the time asked me to consider coming up, up upstairs and being the program director and I prayed about and told him no. Because, again, what is my ministry always been? I need to talk to people about Jesus, not sit at a desk negotiating contracts. I want to talk to people about Jesus. In briefly what does the program director do? The program director decides what programs are on. And that's not always just like, oh, I'll put this here and put that there. We sell air time we negotiate contracts with those entities to have, you know, like, certain ministries like Joyce Meyer, Charles Stanley or somebody on and they want an air time. And we have there's all kinds of plus we acquire movies and different things. So there's a

John Matarazzo :

lot of negotiating with people that are already Christians, right. Yeah. talking to people that aren't already Christians. Yeah.

Tom Hollis :

And so I prayed about it. And I just didn't feel like I told him no. And he said, Well, please pray for us that will find the right person. I said, Sure, I will. And then after a little while, he said, Will you come up and do it interim? And I said, Sure. So I went upstairs. And after a week, I said, I don't do things intro, okay. I can't be interim, anything. I said, I'll do it. I kept praying. And I said, I'll do it. And so now that was 10 years ago, or 11 years ago now. And I've held that job, as long as I've also been a host, I've been in charge of the cornerstone cares outreach, which is right up my alley. And I've now recently been appointed as Chief Operating Officer, which basically means I'm in every meeting, do a lot of the same things I host more than ever, probably, and I

John Matarazzo :

and you're getting to preach the gospel on the air, Oh, I love that you get to do that.

Tom Hollis :

Well, that's you're doing.

John Matarazzo :

It's my job to make sure that you have those opportunities. And you're very, you're very attentive to what God's Spirit is saying to you can speak to that one person at home, wherever they're watching.

Tom Hollis :

Well, I think that, you know, when I first started here, I'm like, What is this guy, Christian TV? What am I doing here? And when the after my first week, I was sitting out on out on the stoop outside of my house, and I was talking to the Lord. And I said, and this is where God does speak to. And we should expect God to speak to us, saying, God is this effective ministry. I've got, you know, change is fun and difficult at the same time. And part of me goes wacky every time there's change. And Jean will also tell you that, but anyway, that day I was really struggling with Was this the right place for me? And I was praying and I said, Is this effective Lord, he go, and I Lord spoke to me as clear. I'm It was like a paragraph. He said, you want to be effective. He said, You reach more people with one flip of the switch at Cornerstone, then you did all five years, you're unwell. And I was like, Whoa, okay. Well, that's all I need to know. You know. And so God gives us that opportunity to, to do the things we need to do now, whenever I'm on the air, I want to hear God's voice like that, too. And it's sometimes it's hard when you're hosting, because you're telling me to do something. And I got to look at the time cues. And the host just said something. mean guest What did the guests say? can keep up a good conversation with him? But I really want to hear the voice of God on the set, too.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, it It sounds to me, Tom, as I'm getting ready to talk about like, what your life lessons, what your along the way moments have been? It seems to me that your purpose has always been to preach the gospel. And that seems to be the core value in you. Let me interrupt you there. Okay.

Tom Hollis :

My purpose is to be a Christian, okay. Okay. And I don't, I don't fall in a lot with a lot of the purpose teaching necessarily, I'm okay. And believe me, I want people to find their purpose in God. But my purpose is to live the life of Christ, whether I'm in front of you right now, or outside or at McDonald's, or with my kids, or my grandkids or anything, I'm here to live the life of Christ. My secondary thing is to preach the gospel and to share the gospel with whoever I have the opportunity. And that includes to the Bible, I love to teach the scriptures to and I've been doing that at church. So yeah, so there's a lot there.

John Matarazzo :

I appreciate your take on that. hear your view on on purpose and destiny. And I that that is good that your purpose really is to be who God has called you to be. One of those things that God has called you to do is to preach the gospel. Yeah. So if that's an outflow of who you are,

Tom Hollis :

well, Ron Henry used to say this all the time, and he's the former president here. His say, ministry is the overflow of a life. And so if I'm going to minister well, then it has to be real. It has to be. I mean, I can't tell you how much this matters to me that that reality that I would not, look, there's lots of people that can say words, I can put words together. Okay. But what's the reality behind those words? Am I the real person that that my words would make me out to be? Yeah.

John Matarazzo :

You I'd like to ask people questions about the detours that they've faced in life. What are some challenges that you've had? We don't need to go into specific details, unless it's something that you that you want. But what advice would you give to me about dealing with challenges in my life and dealing with some of those detours that you've dealt with?

Tom Hollis :

I would say a couple of things, John, one is always stay close to God. Okay. There's just no getting away from being close to God and having a successful Christian walk. I tell people all the time that I was leading a team down in Kentucky one time and we went to a church and there was a pastor, and he had a real Kentucky accent. And he would stop his sermon every so often, and say, read your Bible, say your prayers and be good. And I've lived that tried to live that way that you don't get very far away, ever in your Christian life from reading your Bible, saying your prayers and being good. In other words, live a holy life. Because those are the things that will keep you close to God. And those are the things that will help you to overcome the challenges. So it's very basic. Now, challenges come. And number one, what's God saying in the challenge? Norma Bixler was always wonderful, reminding us what is God saying this. So you need to be able to hear God, you need to be able to accept the Council of wise people around you. And so for a specific situation, I'd say, God, you gotta help me through this. You gotta show me what are you showing me here, give me some insight and let the Lord speak. You might speak through the Scriptures, he might speak through the, the, to your heart, or it might speak through another person. But all those things are valuable in overcoming that.

John Matarazzo :

I love what you just said, that you ask God to help you figure that out, we need to remind ourselves that, that God is involved in the process.

Tom Hollis :

Well, believe me, I try to figure things out on my own all the time, you know, and and then it's like, I find out a lot of times, I can't, I'm not that smart to figure everything out on my own, I need the Lord, you know, I need his wisdom and insight, or I'm gonna fail. And, you know, I live for Him. And I tried to find out what his heart is, in fact, John, if anything could guide me more. And I would say that anybody you or anybody going through difficulty or not difficulty, is have God's heart. You know, have what have it within you say, God, give me the heart that you have about this situation. Because when I asked God, when I came upstairs here, I said, Okay, God, now, I'm up here, I've got paper in front of me. I'm not praying with people on the phones anymore. I'm not, you know, what am I doing up here? And God, real clearly, again, said to me goes, What have I given you? And I said, Oh, you've given me evangelism, preaching the gospel. You can be the father heart of God, that's very much a teaching that concern that I'm concerned with and want to share. And you've given me discipleship, a love for your word and to grow in grace. And he says, we'll do that. I'm like, Oh, you mean, just do the Christian stuff. And so that's what that's what we try to do with programming.

John Matarazzo :

That's great. That's a those are great guidelines to figure out as this is, as these programs are broadcast through the antenna or through the cable. Like, are they meeting these requirements? That, you know, are they reaching people? And

Tom Hollis :

the other thing that I always try to do is how can I reach someone who's not being reached? How can someone what can we do, as you know, and youth with a mission, we're out on the street, but we're not standing on a soapbox preaching, we're doing a drama, we're doing music, we're doing something to attract attention, then we're sharing our faith with people usually one on one or sometimes in a reaching format. So there was a way to attract the attention? Well, the TV's the same way. What can I bring? Is there a movie? Is there something that maybe they won't listen to a preacher? I love preaching, maybe they won't listen to a preacher. But maybe they'll watch a movie, and maybe there'll be some way to steal around the defense's that they might have towards a preacher with a movie or with music or something funny, you know, a different way to reach them.

John Matarazzo :

That's great. That's a great guidelines to look at, Tom, what what has happened in your life to show you that Jesus was walking with you, but you didn't realize it along the way.

Tom Hollis :

You know, there's, there's many things like that. There's times when, like, the the time when I didn't know what to do, God hadn't abandoned me. He wasn't silent. I was the one that was struggling, but he was bringing me along. And I didn't always know that he was when my wife in 2009, had a bicycle accident and was in crushed her pelvis. Really cause some damage. And I honestly wish Jeanne was in a hospital bed and for a guy to see your wife all broken in a hospital bed for her husband to see that is so difficult. And I, I didn't, I didn't know what to do. I was a wreck. You know, in fact, Jean even said at one point, she said to me in a drug induced state, because she was in the hospital for 11 days. And then she was in rehab facility for five weeks after that, my gosh, and but she said, at one point, she goes, I need you to be happy. Because she needed the strength for me to rely on. And I was like, okay, because I wasn't too happy up to that point with what was going on. And it wasn't like it just shifted. But it was something that I needed to grab onto. So God's always been with me through those hard times. There are times that that I don't understand God. Give me an example. biblically, I was thinking of the children of Israel when they were in bondage in Egypt. Well talk about and we watched Charlton Heston, bring them out of the, you know, the bondage of Egypt and into the promised land. And, and, and, and we rejoice in that we should always think that there were they were there for 400 years too long time, that's a long time. And there was some guy 200 years into that praying for them to be delivered, they weren't going to be delivered for 200 more years, okay, I don't know, there could have been better times and worst times, in the midst of all that, and God can reach us no matter where we are. But we're going to go through difficult times, and sometimes we're not going to be delivered out of them. Sometimes we're going to go through them and they're going to seem interminable. But they will eventually end they will eventually there will be some release. And it just isn't as quick as we'd like all the time.

John Matarazzo :

Tom, if you could go back in time and visit your younger version of yourself, and give yourself some advice. What would you Where would you visit yourself at? And what would you tell yourself?

Tom Hollis :

I think that I would tell myself in my as a young man, either before I got married, maybe when I was in college, or maybe shortly thereafter. And I would tell them, hang close to God, no matter what. Don't let the things of the world tempt you away. Don't let discouragement get ahold of you. And don't let your own personality hold you back from doing the things of God. I grew up a very quiet person, very shy shyness and insecurity. I've always been my closest friends. Not really friends, but they were I was very shy in high school. You know, very insecure. And people look at me now, like you're on TV. You talk in front of people all the time, like, well, that's God and maturity. My family mother Hollis is tend to be kind of that way. My aunt came up to me recently and said, Where do you come from? Anyway, you're like different the rest of us, you know, we don't want to be up in front of people. We don't want to. I'm like, I don't know. I just, you know, I just was trying to follow God, you know, and that's the thing is that I'm still in some ways I'm, there's a shyness or a reticence in me sometimes to put myself forward. I'm not a self promoter or anything like that. But there's times where it's, I would tell that younger guy to Don't hold back. Take the steps and take the leap every once in a while.

John Matarazzo :

Tom, what is God teaching you right now?

Tom Hollis :

He's teaching me how faithful he is. Even when we don't always see it. years ago, I know if anybody's listening to this, listening to this, and they don't really feel like that we hear from God. I've talked, I had some discussions with some of my more conservative brethren about whether or not God still speaks, and I believe he does. And he doesn't. I'm not like hearing from God every day. But there's been a lot of times in my life where I hear from him. And one time he said to me, I'm going to teach you faithfulness. Well, that's not exactly what I want to hear. I'm going to teach you faithfulness, that means God's gonna give you opportunities to trust him in a different way. Yeah. But I went through something, I came out the other side. And God said to me, I'm going to teach you my faithfulness. He is faithful. He is faithful when we are not. He's faithful when we try to be and fail. He's faithful when we are faithful, because we are faithful sometimes. And, and that's okay. But as long as we are living these human bodies, with this human world around us, we're going to fail at times. And God is always always faithful. So he's always teaching me about his faithfulness.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah. When God's teaching you about some of these things that you mentioned, just faithfulness. What advice would you give to me about how we can actively apply what God is teaching us?

Tom Hollis :

Well, God never is interested in us having a theory. He is teaching us something for a reason. One of the pastors at my church always says, a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with a theory. And I had a one level to that a person with a relationship is never at the mercy of someone with an experience or theory. So you want to have a day to day relationship with God? That is really a relationship, and how does he reveal Himself, He reveals Himself in His Word, He reveals Himself various ways, general and special revelation. But he reveals it for a reason. Part of that could be just, this is how I am Tom, and I want you to know that it's okay, settle down, you can just hear this and it's all right. You just take that in and understand this is who I am. But then it moves us somewhere, it moves us to action, and I don't I'm not the biggest action guy in the world. But it does move me to say, Well, what can I do? You know, john, I'm not a natural evangelist. I don't just walk up to people when they fall down in the supermarket and say, What must I do to be saved? You know, but what I've done in my life is put myself in situations where I am forced to share the gospel, okay? Or where I have the opportunity to share the gospel TV is one of those things. So he's God's always looking for a way to get us out a side of ourselves. I always say this, a church, when I'm teaching a church, God wants us outside of the building, he wants us outside of ourselves, to where we might affect somebody.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, and you get a lot of books on your desk. Now, for work. I give you a lot of books. Whenever we have guests on the program, you gotta prepare for that you read a lot outside of work as well. What book do you think would be an impact for my life?

Tom Hollis :

We said it right. The first time, we're going to talk about books, you have another hour. We could talk about books for a long time. But let me give you another three that I think that always have affected me. One is Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. And I didn't read that until later in life. But the lessons I knew a lot of the lessons in it of the reasonableness of Christianity and the reasonableness of belief in God, and why there's such strong founding in that really helped me. Another book that I recommend to anyone is the general next to God. And it's, it's about the founding of the Salvation Army, and General William Booth and how powerfully that book was used in my life to understand the desire God has to touch lives, you know. And another one like that, In a similar vein is called CT stud.

John Matarazzo :

And you might Norman grub. Yeah, you

Tom Hollis :

probably read that one. That's kind of a YYM staple. I think CT stud cricketer and Pioneer? How about an old time Christian 1800s that just captured a heart for God and his sermons and his writings just burn with fire? You know? So those are those are three that really meant a lot to me.

John Matarazzo :

That's great. Well, thank you, Tom. I really appreciate you being on the show podcast and, and sharing some of your along the way moments with me. I appreciate that you're in my life, and that we get to work together serving Jesus in a unique way preaching the gospel through the airwaves.

Tom Hollis :

JOHN, it is a great it is my honor to be with you. And we've talked about how I we see each other, we see similarities in ourselves. But it's been a pleasure to be here. And let's talk about books sometime or movies. We can talk about movies for an hour we can there's a lot we can talk about. But it's been my pleasure.

John Matarazzo :

Thank you, Tom. As I have gotten to know Tom, it is very evident to me that his personal relationship with the Holy Spirit has dramatically changed his life. There is a boldness that comes upon him when he is sharing the good news of Jesus, whether it be someone one on one on a mission trip, or when he looks into the camera and speaks to someone watching. I love that God responds when we are desperate for him. Tom's story of asking for the filling of the Holy Spirit is a powerful reminder that God knows the true state of our hearts, and we need to let him have complete lordship of our lives on his terms. Sometimes I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, if you need help. Don't forget to ask God. He's right there, and he wants to help us. Stay close to God. It's as simple as read your Bible, say your prayers and be good. It doesn't need to get more complicated than that. As I was editing this episode, it really hit me when Tom said that God hasn't abandoned you. That's a great nugget of truth to think about and to hold on to. That reminds me of something that Graham Cooke, one of my favorite Bible teacher says, he asked God, God, what do you want to be for me now that you couldn't be for me until I was in this situation? That is something that I try to ask God when it feels like God has abandoned me. There is always something that God is wanting to teach us about himself. And he wants to reveal Himself to us more and more each day. No matter what we're going through, he is there. In Toms story, he talked about God wanting to teach him about his faithfulness. And he had opportunities to test that character. And I want you to know that God passes the test of character, every time when God is teaching us something, there is a reason. One more thing I wanted to point out. A person with an experience is never at the mercy with someone with a theory. I pray that you have had a life changing experience with God in your life that leads to a relationship with Him. And one more thing Tom, you need to write that book God sounds like my wife. I think it'll be a best seller and write it soon. You can catch Tom on episodes of real life on Cornerstone network, go to real life dot CTV n dot o RG to watch episodes of my show real life. Tom mentioned a couple books Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, the general next to God by Richard Colyer, NCT stud, cricket tear and Pioneer by Norman grub. Thank you for joining me along the way. If you've enjoyed joining me along my way, please rate and subscribe to this podcast and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and at my website along the way dot media. You can also email me at John along the way at gmail. com. I hope that you've enjoyed this part of my journey. And may you realize when Jesus is walking with you along your way