UH OH INTERVIEWS: The Salvation of Steve Harvey - No Laughing Matter! Israel Houghton - talks about worship, hip-hop music, family, etc. Young and in Hollywookd - meet Teen of Comedy Brandon T. Jackson, actress Jurnee Smollet and actor Elijah Kelley.
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The Salvation of Steve Harvey – no laughing matter!
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“You need to listen to the Steve Harvey Show; did you know he’s saved?”, asked my mother. This simple question was the beginning of a very personal journey that took me to the very heart of God’s love for mankind. When I heard that Steve Harvey was coming to Detroit to promote his syndicated morning show, my first response was “big deal”. I’ve never interviewed a secular artist/entertainer before so I had no desire to interview him. But for some reason, my mother’s question, “Did you know he’s saved?” kept ringing in my ear, so much so I couldn’t ignore it.
I started thinking; doesn’t everybody claim to know God? You’ve seen those award shows before when the entertainer will get up and say, “I want to thank God for this award, without Him this wouldn’t be possible. Wait a minute, isn’t this the same girl that was popping her big behind on stage a minute ago, isn’t this the same guy that was degrading women in his nasty video. How can he now say that it was “my” God that allowed him to achieve this level of success?
I was curious now, so I set out to research the man the world knows as one of the original Kings of Comedy. But before I began studying this potential interviewee, I continued to search my heart and ask God was this His leading. I wondered how Urban Gospel News readers would respond to an article featuring Steve Harvey? What truth would this interview reveal to God’s people? Like so many other secular and Christian media outlets, was I falling into the trap of securing a big name to draw attention to my online magazine? I really had to search my heart to find out the purpose of this interview. Did God really want me to interview Steve Harvey? I started to recall the many conversations I had with a colleague of mine about interviewing people that were not considered “main-stream Gospel or Christian” artist and entertainers. I had vowed to her that I would never interview a secular artist or entertainer. Was I going to eventually eat these words?
A few days before Steve Harvey would arrive in Detroit, I finally received a peace about interviewing him. I immediately sent in my request for an interview and began searching the web to find out everything I could about my subject. I found articles written about the controversy between he and Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One; the largest Black owned radio network in the country. I read reports that described him as one of the most arrogant men on earth. On the other hand, I read about his involvement in the Hip Hop Summit where he was instrumental in bringing together West Coast Hip hop artist under the banner of peace and reconciliation. In addition, he has been noted as being a behind the scene architect for removing the negativity out of rap.
Armed with knowledge of the word of God and my interviewee background information, I was ready to go! I have to admit, I had my guard up and my agenda was clear, I was going down there to challenge this man’s belief. How could he confess Jesus Christ and work for this secular radio station?. How could he use my God’s name and cuss at the same time?. Doesn’t the word of God say, in James 3:10 “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be."
When I arrived at the Breakfast Bar and Grill in Detroit, it was ridiculously crowded. There were folks literary hanging outside of the restaurant in the rain to see this man!. I wondered, would these same people wait in the rain to get a word from God? Why was this man so popular that it would draw this much attention? Why did he have this platform and was he using this platform to glorify God?
Anyway, when I got into the restaurant I searched out a spot to lay down my things and get organized. I then set on my way to connect with the radio stations promotions manager responsible for arranging one-on-one interviews. She introduced me to Steve’s Manager, Rushion McDonald who informed me that the interview with Steve would have to occur at a later date. He stated they were running behind schedule and that I could interview Steve next month in preparation for the release of his new movie. He went on to say that he would send me his contact information and details about the movie.
“Wow” I thought, I spent all this time preparing for this interview, driving downtown in the rain, just to get turned away! “Did I miss you God?”, I asked. To say the least, I was disappointed but I figured God knew what He was doing, if it was going to happen God would make it happen. A few days later I received an email from Rushion with the movie flyer. When I first read the title of the movie, “Don’t Trip…He Ain't Through With Me Yet!!” my first thought was, “look at God”. Wait a minute, isn’t this exactly what I wanted to talk to Steve about. God is good; he has not only opened the door but has already set the stage for the content of the conversation. A few weeks later, I received notification that Steve was retuning to Detroit for Super Bowl week and that I was granted a one-on-one interview with him at Fishbones in downtown Detroit.
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On the morning of the day I was to interview Steve, I kept hearing the word “ambassador”. I asked my husband, “What does ambassador mean?” his response was, “someone that represents another.” So like a good soldier in God’s army, I headed downtown with my agenda, armed and dangerous. I had received a fresh word from God, ”ambassador”.
I recited the word in my head over and over again, pondering the meaning and getting it in my spirit. I parked my car and as I’m walking into the restaurant, I clearly heard God ask me, “Are you my ambassador”. My immediate response was “Yes God”. He then said, “Who am I”? “You are God”, I replied. He kept asking me
”Who am I?”, so I finally said within myself, “You are love”. His next response was, “Then act like me. This is my child and I want you to walk in love with your brother.”
What! This shocked me. I suddenly realized that I indeed I had the right marching orders – interview Steve Harvey – but I had the wrong heart motive. I was more concerned about judging this brother instead of showing him God’s love. Yes, I was to ask the questions and get to the heart of the story (his relationship with God) – but with love always at the forefront. I was to find out why after 22 years as a comedian, he decided to come clean? My marching orders were correct, God did open the door, but I was marching at a different beat.
In preparation for this interview, spiritually I had put on my militant-style hat instead of the helmet of salvation. I needed to remind myself that if Steve had confessed Jesus Christ then he had received salvation and that salvation isn’t earned by what you do, it is a gift from God. The purpose of salvation is to restore mankind to Him and that restoration is a process. Who was I to judge the process by which God was restoring the man Steve Harvey?
I desired to be obedient, but I was now left with this dilemma – in a few minutes I was suppose to conduct an interview. I have got to change my whole game plan, I have got to change my entire interviewing strategy! I’m going to have to re-write some questions. No need to panic, thank God for the Holy Spirit who guided me through the entire interview. Prior to the interview, I had prayed that Steve would be very open and candid, that he would feel comfortable sharing his heart with me and the interview would be successful. God delivered on this prayer.
During the interview, I didn’t see the bigheaded arrogant superstar that I had read about. He was very articulate and honest about his walk with God. He was very open about his struggle with doing and saying the “right” thing all the time. Did I get all of my questions answered? No. Was the interview pleasing to God? I believe it was. Did I leave some things on the table? Yes I did. Will I have another opportunity to address those things? If God open this door once, he will open it up again - so the answer is -- of course I will.
(Photo by: Terri Morgan)
After my interview with Steve, I consulted with my husband and contacted one of my mentors to inform them of how the interview went. They addressed some of the things that I could have done differently before, during and after the interview. You see, just like Steve, God ain’t through with me yet either. I am also a work in progress. Does this statement excuse me or Steve from being the best that we can for God, absolutely not! Does it diminish our responsibility of taking the role and platform that God has given us more seriously, no it doesn’t. It just reminds us that we still have work to do. It reminds us that we must keep the word of God in our hearts. It reminds us that we need husbands, wives, mentors and in deed mothers in our lives us so that we can stay on top of our game.(Photo by: Terri Morgan))