Hollywood icon Steve McQueen, who accepted Christ months before he was diagnosed with fatal cancer, died clutching legendary evangelist Billy Graham’s Bible, California pastor Greg Laurie’s new book on the salvation of the “King of Cool” explains.
Laurie, senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and a well-respected evangelist, will release his new book, Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon, on June 13.
In an interview with The Christian Post this week, Laurie explained that the book will serve as the most in-depth account of McQueen’s fairly unknown path to Christ in the last days of his life. The book was co-written by Marshall Terrill, who has written five books on McQueen and, according to Laurie, is an “expert on all things McQueen.”
The book includes interviews conducted by Terrill and Laurie with people who were close to McQueen and can attest to his spiritual transformation, such as McQueen’s widow, Barbi, the pastor of McQueen’s church, McQueen’s flight instructor and even a metabolic technician who served McQueen in the days leading up to his death.
“There was a statement that McQueen made, which was, ‘My only regret in life was that I was not able to tell others about what Jesus Christ did for me,'” Laurie said, quoting what McQueen had told Pastor Leonard DeWitt of Ventura Missionary Church before he died.
“I thought, that’s a wrong that needs to be righted,” Laurie added.
According to the book, McQueen, who was known for his roles in movies like “Bullit,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Great Escape,” and “The Towering Inferno,” began attending church services at DeWitt’s church in 1979. After about three months, he introduced himself to DeWitt and asked to meet him for lunch.
At the lunch meeting, which Laurie said occurred about six months before McQueen was diagnosed with Mesothelioma cancer in December 1979, McQueen asked a number of spiritual questions.
Laurie asked DeWitt in an interview what kind of spiritual questions McQueen asked him in that lunch meeting.
“Leonard remembered that Steve wanted to know if the Bible can be trusted. He wanted to know if all of his sins can be forgiven. He wanted to know what being a Christian looked like,” Laurie said. “I think McQueen was trying to wrap his mind around it.”
At the end of the meeting, DeWitt asked McQueen if he had accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. McQueen responded by saying that he came forward during one of DeWitt’s invitations in church to accept the Lord.
According to Laurie, it was people like Sammy Mason, a flight instructor who shared the Gospel with McQueen when he was learning to fly, and stuntman Stan Barrett, who debated McQueen about religion and Christianity earlier, who really sowed and watered the seeds that allowed DeWitt to harvest McQueen’s faith.
Laurie said that McQueen was only a “baby Christian” when he was given the terrible news that he had cancer.
But as McQueen sought unorthodox cancer treatment in Mexico, it was evident that he was taking his commitment to Christ seriously.
“Now that he had become a believer, one of the first things he does when he arrives in Mexico at a center where he was going to receive some of these treatments is he starts talking to the lady (Teena Valentino) about his faith in Christ. I thought that was very interesting that he was initiating conversations with people about it,” Laurie said.
“He had organized a time to feed a lot of the other cancer patients there in the clinic. He wanted to join them. It was a little food that they weren’t supposed to eat but he was sort of treating them. He wanted to go spend some time with them but he wasn’t able to do it because he was feeling so sick,” Laurie continued. “So he made a recording that he played for them. In that recording, he prays for them and he talks about his faith in Christ.”
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SOURCE: The Christian Post