One of the best people I know turned 65 years old recently and was given an enormous party at his workplace. Not only did friends and family celebrate the event, but also the fact that this man had recently undergone major heart bypass surgery. He was back at work, looking as fit as ever. His name is David Mainse, founder of the 100 Huntley Street television program and president of Crossroads Christian Communications.
For the few, the very few, who don’t know David, he is one of the world’s premier television evangelists and one of Canada’s most respected citizens. A man who has raised millions for the poor and the needy here and abroad. Who has transformed Canadian television. Who has changed the lives of countless people for two generations.
Candour here – there is a great deal of cynicism, even hostility, surrounding televangelists. More candour – sometimes it’s deserved. Not so long ago, we had people convicted of crimes, and revealed to be liars, who were dominating the American airwaves. Yet, even people who were hostile to Christianity had to admit that Mainse has been as above suspicion as a mountain is above a valley. But there is more. So much more.
When my father had a stroke last year, I flew out to Britain. Bad, dark, cloudy times. Suddenly the telephone rings in my parents’ home. It’s David Mainse, calling from 3,000 miles away. “How’s your dad? How’s your mum? How are you? What can I do, how can I help?” I wept.
Stories like this can be told by almost every person who has come into contact with the man. A friend – a nationally famous and respected television personality who is not known for having any religion connections – spoke to me recently about David.
“A pal of mine went to see him years ago. His life was in ruins, his marriage was ending, he was at the brink of something very dangerous. David turned his life around, saved his marriage, put his life back together. Amazing, incredible. And you know what, he didn’t ask for anything in return, just moved on.”
There is also something quintessentially Canadian about David Mainse. Whilst American Christian leaders have often become far too involved in party politics, David has been scrupulous in keeping his party affiliations, if he has them, to himself. He seems to believe, and bless him for it, that Christians are to be found in every party and that it would be unfair to take sides.
Then there is his family. His marriage to Norma Jean, his children and grandchildren. There is a devotion and, important this, a respect. It is faith and family, I believe, that enables David to do what he does.
At a time when television pats itself on the back and says how “brave” it is every time another obscenity is used or another private sex act made public, Mainse has been the truly heroic one in establishing 100 Huntley Street and in founding the Crossroads Television System (CTS).
Let me declare immediately that I host a show on CTS, Michael Coren Live. But if you think that I write this to somehow be sycophantic, you don’t know me, you don’t know him and you don’t understand our relationship.
CTS presents faith-based and family programming, and some discussion shows, that are more open, progressive and free than any others on Canadian television. Of course, the station and the shows receive limited media attention. No surprise there. Refer to the above and the need to take your clothes off, fire guns and swear to be considered “relevant.”
No matter. The station expands, the audience grows and David Mainse encourages. The phone call and the letter to congratulate, the self-effacing word of advice from a man who has forgotten more about television than I will ever know. And the eternal modesty.
Example. Stockwell Day comes in for an hour-long interview at the height of his troubles. Quite a coup. David calls. He wants to know if he could sit in and watch. I remind him that he is the chairman of the outfit, and is always welcome. “Yes, but I didn’t want to show up without asking your permission. It wouldn’t be right.”