In this interview with George Collins, Editor of BATTLE CRY, Jack Chick shares how his ministry began.
Jack, I understand you had to leave your church over the first book you did.
Yes, that first book was WHY NO REVIVAL? showing how sin and hypocrisy block revival. I got the cold shoulder because I drew some people who looked like the ones in the choir, and they recognized themselves.
How did you get started drawing these cartoon books?
Well, I hadn't been saved long. I was working at AstroScience Corporation in El Monte, and was sitting out in my car reading my Bible during lunch. An old welder gave me a copy of POWER FROM ON HIGH by Charles G. Finney. That book pushed my button.
Is that why you chose revival for your first subject?
I went to church and saw all the deadness and hypocrisy, and I started thinking, "That's why there's no revival!" So I started making these little sketches. My burden was so heavy to wake up Christians to pray for revival.
I took my sketches to a little lady who ran a small gospel bookstore. I said, "Mary, I don't think anyone is going to publish these, they hit too hard." She said, "Why don't you publish them yourself?" I kept making sketches during my lunch hour, but I finally got discouraged. I was sure no one would publish them, so I rolled them up in a ball and threw it in a trash barrel.
I went to eat my lunch in my little Renault and I said, "Lord, if you want me to do this book, I need a verse about the leaven of the Pharisees and I don't know where it is." So I shut my eyes and cracked the Bible open. It opened to Job and I said, "It can't be in here." I had been saved just shortly before this.
So I started turning the pages with my eyes shut and opened it again. I opened my left eye, and my hair went straight on end. It said "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." I thought, "This is it!"
I was so charged, I went in and started drawing like crazy. I said, "Lord, where am I going to get the money?"
How did you find a publisher?
I didn't. I went to the credit union and got a loan for $800. It took me two years to pay it off.
I got the book printed and started distributing it to bookstores. Then I got creamed by the Lutherans. They gave an evaluation of the book and said it was terrible--not realistic. They shot me down.
But you didn't quit.
No. Right after printing the first one, I was driving down the road and the Lord gave me a new story. Within ten minutes, I had a book called A DEMON'S NIGHTMARE.
I stopped and scribbled as fast as I could. The whole story unfolded like watching it on TV. Then I was really in a mess. Here I had an $800 bill facing me and a new book that had to be published.
The other one wouldn't sell because of the bad reviews?
Right. We were having a tough time out there. A lot of the bookstores were really outraged at some guy putting out these cartoons. They thought it was sacrilegious.
But I knew in my heart that the stuff would work. So my next book came and I had no finances. I didn't know what to do.
Didn't George Otis help you at some point?
Yes. George had just bought AstroScience where I was working. I heard he was a Christian, so I wondered if I could approach him.
I went through his secretary and got a copy of WHY NO REVIVAL? to him. When he called me into his office, it was like walking into the holy of holies. He had read the book and said, "My mother-in-law said you're a man of God and I should help you on your next printing."
I couldn't believe my ears! So George helped me with the first printing of A Demon's Nightmare.
That book is still going strong, isn't it?
It's amazing! Just as I got that thing off my drawing board the Lord showed me I was to do The Last Call, again coming in on revival. I had read Finney's REVIVAL LECTURES, and thought we could encourage people to read it by adding illustrations.
I worked on it for months. Every chance I got at work, every lunch break, every coffee break, I worked on it. I got permission to do this. I'd go home and work away late into the night. I was just exhausted.
One morning at work, when the book was almost done, somebody said, "Jack is that your car burning out in the parking lot?" My Bible and my manuscript and everything were in the back of the car.
I got up like a shot, ran outside, and met George Otis coming in the gate. I said, "My car is on fire!" George said, "Well, who else's car would be burning?" George knew about spiritual warfare.
I looked out and saw fire engines all over the parking lot, and they had put foam in the car to put the fire out. I thought, "Oh, I'm dead. All this work."
I looked in the car and everything was ringed in foam, but God preserved that book. There were just one or two drops of foam on the top of my Bible.
About a week before, I had prayed, "Lord, there is no way I can get this car reupholstered, I just don't have it." God gave it to me through insurance for five dollars. Satan tried to stop me, but the Lord not only protected my book, He reupholstered my car for me.
The Lord wanted that book published.
That's right. People should be looking for the Lord's return. I went grocery shopping one night and took my little grey silver poodle and left her in the car.
She could barely get her nose up to the window, standing on her hind legs. The whole time I was in the store, she kept her eyes riveted on that door, waiting for me. Nothing else in the world mattered to her, except to see me coming out of that store.
I looked at her, and I thought, "Lord, that's the way I should be looking for your return--nothing else should matter."
People need to read THE LAST CALL. Finney (quoted in THE LAST CALL) points out that when everything is caving in, and when the world laughs at the church, that's when we need revival. We're in that position now.
We're a big joke out there. Everybody says they're born again...Mormons, Catholics, everybody, but they don't know what it means.
That is the beginning of your burden, a burden that still continues?
Yes, my main thrust is soul-winning. Right now, Christians are self-satisfied and complacent. God's got a handful of people out there who really mean business, but the rest are playing games.
The only way there's any hope is with revival. Then, people will have a burden for the lost.