Joy magazine, July 2002

Joy cover

Rock on Tommy!

Top Christian comedian works with Youth Alive

Bobby Ball, one half of the 1980s hit TV comedy duo Cannon and Ball, has his audience in stitches wherever he goes, but these days he has added a strong gospel element to his repertoire, reports Derek Smith of Youth Alive.

Serving Jesus is ‘flippin’ brilliant’, says Christian Entertainer Bobby Ball, who has recently been working with Youth Alive on initiatives that have touched thousands of young people.

At the AoG conference in April, Bobby spoke in the Youth Alive venue where he shared his testimony of what God was doing in his life. Charting his progress from nightclub entertainer to TV stardom, he told how the fame and fortune he had worked for didn’t bring the happiness he expected. Rather it left Bobby addicted to lust and with a severe drink problem.

“I was living life in the fast lane,” he told his packed-to-capacity audience, “but when you get there it isn’t as good as you think.” His lifestyle even spoiled his friendship with his co-star (rock on) Tommy Cannon – for four years the pair weren’t even on speaking terms off-stage.

However, through the witness of Max Wigley, a Spirit-filled vicar, Bobby started thinking about God: “I wanted to know God but I didn’t want to become like many of the Christians I had seen. Most of them didn’t seem to have a good life at all. After all, who want’s to walk through a graveyard full of dead people to meet the living God?” But when he finally asked Jesus into his life, Bobby started to cry: “I knew then that God was real and he was alive.”

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At the time Bobby’s daughter was pregnant with a child that had been diagnosed as severely deformed. However, in answer to prayer, the child was born perfect. “I saw the scan a week before the baby was born and it was badly deformed,” Bobby testified. “However, when it was born a week later it was perfectly healthy. This was a tremendous proof to me that God was real and that he answered prayer.”

Bobby’s radical change in lifestyle led to his wife, his daughter, and eventually his partner Tommy also giving their lives to Christ. “It was simply that they had seen the Holy Spirit working in me,” said Bobby.

Urging his listeners to “fill their spirits up,” Bobby prayed for Christians who were dry and needed God’s Spirit to set them on the right course again. He said, “serving Jesus is flippin’ brilliant and laughter and joy are part of God’s character. And we as Christians should be among the most fun people to be around in the world.”

Following the conference Bobby compered the Youth Alive Alton Towers event in May. Around 8,000 people attended the famous theme park, and a great day on the rides was topped by a concert that ran from 5:30 to 9:30 pm. The bands were excellent, the atmosphere in the crowd was electric and, in between the band changeovers, Bobby filled in with jokes, stories and the usual mickey taking. But one of the acts that nobody messed with was ‘Tough Talk’, a group of ex-East End hard men who have given their lives to Christ and now communicate their faith through testimonies and body building demonstrations!

The day culminated with Mark Ritchie encouraging young people to give their lives to Christ. All in all, it was a great success and another outworking of Youth Alive’s vision to see young people’s lives changed.