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Glenn Tompkins

Glenn Tompkins

1941 – I found a comic book that told the story of Harry Blackstone, the magician.  I was fascinated, and then I found books on how to do magic tricks in Jr. High School library.  I memorized the Dewey Decimal number 793.  That is where the books on magic are found.

1942 – I did a short show at a church youth conference.
It was about this time that I saw the great Harry Blackstone, Sr. on stage  in Schenectady.   I still have the program with his autograph on it.

1943 – I discovered Abbott’s Magic Company and also a local magic shop operated by magician Fred Perkett in Schenectady, NY, my home town.
I did my first two paid shows.  These were both in churches, but I knew nothing of the Gospel for several years.

1945,46 I served in the navy, but was known as “Take-a-card-Tompkins” as that was the only equipment I had that I could carry with me.

1947 – I played a couple of night clubs in the Schenectady area, and was part of a group of entertainers that did a New Year’s eve show at a night club in Montpelier, VT.

1948 – I headed for NY city to break into show business as a magician.  I did some shows, but never made it big.  While living in NY and working in an office, I woke up one Sunday about noon and looked out of my window.  People were coming out of a nearby church in crowds, and all dressed up.  I looked at the calendar – it was Easter,  I hadn’t been paying attention to church stuff.  The following Sunday I wandered several blocks, and went into a church.  I heard about accepting Jesus as Savior,  but I didn’t understand why.  During that era I heard about a magician who would be at another nearby church.  His name was Phil Foxwell, who would go on to be a missionary.  I thought that mixing Bible lessons with the tricks seemed like a good angle, but I still was not saved.  On May 19th, 1948, a Wednesday, a young lady invited me to a mid-week service.  The pastor, J. Allen Blair, was teaching how to lead someone to Christ.  That night, convicted by the Holy Spirit, I trusted Christ, but told no one for two days.  The next day I wandered down the streets of NY city wondering, where this is going to lead.

In August the pastor asked if I had learned to put Bible truth with my tricks.  I had studied the wordless book information from Child Evangelism Fellowship, and I told him, yes.  He asked me to do a program for the Jr. Church in September.
I did, and 5 boys and girls trusted Christ as Savior.

As a teen-age magician, I had used the slogan on my business cards,
A Little Bit of the Best in Magic

Now as a Gospel magician, my card read:
A Message in Magic
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Romans 10:13

While living in NY, I frequently went to Lou Tannen’s magic shop on Saturday mornings.  Once I went to the Dixie Hotel luncheon and sat next to John Scarne, (a well known card magician who exposed gamblers.)  at the magician’s table.

I attended a youth conference at a Christian college on Labor Day weekend, and ended up going there for my Bible training.

November – I was trying to save up $100.00 to get me going at Bible college until my GI bill benefits began.  On the corner of 42nd St. and 6th Avenue in NY city, I met a man who was serving the Lord.  He asked me if I could get into Bible College before the following fall.  I said, Probably, but I needed about $100.00 to carry me. On the spot he wrote a check for that amount. His name was Benjamin Dhuy, and he worked with the NY Bible Society.

December – became engaged to the young lady who had invited me to the service where I came to know the Lord.  Her name was Helen Everham.  As of this date, April, 2008 we have been married for almost 59 years.

January, 1949 – Went into Bible college in mid-year.  They has street meetings in downtown Providence, RI.  One fellow took his trumpet to help gather a crowd.  I took my set of Linking Rings.  I still have them.

March, 1949 – Received a telegram from my fianc’ telling me that her father had died of a heart attack. I went back to Flushing, NY for the funeral, and we made plans to marry that June.

June 26, 1949 – We were married and left NY. Worked that summer at a Bible conference on Lake George, NY.  Did programs twice a week there.  Spent a week at Word of Life Island before heading back to Providence.

1952 – 1972 Raising children and serving churches.  We had five children, Richard who died in a motorcycle accident in Thailand in 1972 while in the Air Force.  Nancy who now in 2007 has 4 children and 5 grandchildren is a Social work supervisor.  She and her husband provide space on their land for us.
Ruth is a nurse-practitioner with 20 years experience in the Gambia, West Africa.   Ruth is a widow and serves as a medical missions consultant. Our son Robert and his wife Bonnie live in south Texas and do missionary work in Mexico.  Joanne is a literacy worker in the Gambia, West Africa.

Churches served: (all independent community type churches)  West Caldwell Union Church, NJ, Budd Lake Union Chapel, NJ, Lake View Congregational Church, NY, and Conewango Baptist Church, NY.

1961 – Joined the Fellowship of Christian Magicians (FCM). His membership number was 273.

1972 – 1980 Regional Director for a missionary organization.  Many churches wanted magic and missions mixed, but I insisted that they be separate programs. The mission had conventions at Winona Lake, IN, and often back to back with the Fellowship of Christian Magicians convention there.  I had attended some FCM gatherings in Western NY and had been on the evening show the first time I ever attended an FCM gathering in Buffalo, NY  Jimmy Lake from Toronto recruited me for FCM.  My membership dates to 1962 with card #273.

I did lectures at FCM conventions in Winona Lake IN, Wheaton, IL, Cedar Rapids, IA, Grand Rapids, MI, Marion, IN, and regional conventions at Buffalo, NY, Birmingham, AL, Nashville, TN, Indianapolis, IN, and perhaps others that I do not remember.  For several years I wrote a section for the FCM paper, The Christian  Conjurer. My column was called, Gospel Magic as I do it.

Our youngest daughter got into ventriloquism as a teen-ager.  She is currently a linguist/educator in the Gambia, West Africa.  I wasn’t into ventriloquism until 1987  I was doing camps and Vacation Bible Schools all summer long in several states. I thought that a puppet might help.   The kids loved it, and my wife and I headed out of the camp in Florida to find joke books to help me write some more scripts.  I used Jose, a boy puppet to teach drug and alcohol prevention in public schools in south Texas, and in Sparta, TN.

I used Jose and Rover (a dog puppet) in RV park shows in south Texas. I have since added Vern the bird.

1989 – 2003  These years were spent with camps and VBSs in the summer. Supply preaching with some evangelistic crusades spring and fall, and November through March serving as RV park chaplain in two RV parks in Mission, TX among the Winter Texans. I preached on Sundays, did Bible studies on two weekdays, did park shows, church shows, Birthday party shows, etc.

As I write this, it is 2007.  I use a cane to get up or down steps.  I have had a stroke that leaves me with peripheral blindness on my left side, but God is good.  I still do some pulpit supply, and teach an adult Bible class every Lord’s day.
About  a year ago I did three nights at a children’s camp.  I have done an occasional program for church youth groups, and VBS.  I am now in the process of selling a lot of my equipment, keeping only one puppet and enough equipment for an occasional church program.

Along with other activities, I have written an e-book on Ministry that I give out via e-mail to anyone who wants it.  It makes a long e-mail, and prints out to about 110 pages.  It is a ministry handbook.

I have done Veteran’s Day assemblies in some of the grade schools, but no tricks.  I have done a few drug and alcohol prevention shows in some of the grade schools.  I also volunteer to do readings in the schools with other volunteers from the White County Library.

I cannot keep track of how many programs I have done over the years, but I have used my tricks to share the gospel in 30 states, and six other countries: Mexico, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Israel and the Gambia, West Africa.

I now make my home in Heaven.

Glenn went to be with the Lord Oct 22, 2013. He will be greatly missed.