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"I Pity the Fool Who Does Not Know Jesus!"

By The 700 Club

April 27, 2001 -

Recently Lisa Ryan sat down with Mr. T to discuss what was going on in his life.

Lisa: You are one of 12 children and the son of a preacher man. Your father was a minister. When did you embrace the faith of your father?

Mr. T: I'm glad you asked me that. Actually it goes back, and I like to tell everybody that my father baptized me when I was four-year-old. Even though I was young and couldn't understand a lot of things, but I grew in the church, you know.

So when my father wasn't around, my mother was there singing spiritual songs, doing the laundry, so I was constantly being bombarded by good things, you know. So, I'm in church and I'm listening to my father preach. And strange that you should ask that, but of all my brothers, I believe that I was the only one who really got the fire.

Mr. T: I remember when I used to be outside playing and my father would be praying. I would tiptoe in and that would be so important.

What was my father doing? He was praying. He was getting the sermon ready for Sunday. He wasn't beating my mother or drinking, he was praying. And that's something special. He taught me to pray. He taught me to have faith, so you know, that's powerful stuff.

Lisa: Did you always know that you wanted to be in movies or on television?

Mr. T: You know, that was purely by accident. I tell people and I look upon things now and truthfully, I always did want to get into ministry. My father is a minister, so I want to walk the walk that my father did.

Mr. T: Like I tell everybody, I grew up in the ghetto, but the ghetto didn't grow up in me. We were poor financially, but we were rich spiritually. That's what I tell everybody growing up in the ghetto.

We didn't have material things. We didn't have a TV until I was a sophomore in high school. But we had love. We had harmony.

My mother taught me those things, and I carried it with me. So, I tell everyone that even though I look like a tough guy, I'm just a big 48-year-old mama's boy. I am a mama's boy.

Lisa: Well, you use the platform God has given you and you use the television to be your pulpit.

Mr. T: Yes, it is. It's an avenue. I call it an avenue for me to reach people. It allows me to go to different places. Before I became "Mr. T", I couldn't really go to schools and hospitals to speak and visit kids. Now that I am "Mr. T" they want me to come in even though my message hasn't changed.

It's O.K. I understand that and I try to use that notoriety to help somebody go back and visit the hospitals and visit the sick because that's what Jesus did, you did.

Lisa: You've also been tested in areas of your health. You were diagnosed with T cell lymphoma. Is that correct?

Mr. T: Well, you know it is sort of amazing. Because I think of it back in 1994, I was working with The 700 Club, Operation Blessing and we were passing out food and all that stuff.

Then in 1995, there was a little sore on my ear and we first thought it was a little pimple or something, but then it was there for about a week or so. So, I said, "O.K. let me go to the doctor and see what he thinks." It wasn't hurting or anything like that. It was just annoying. I didn't want anyone to see it. So, I went to the doctor.

I came into his office and he looked at this ear and looked at the other ear and he said, "Wow, the test results show that you have a rare form of cancer." I didn't say nothing. The truth is that I didn't fall out. I didn't go crazy. I just sat there because I guess it didn't hit me what I was dealing with.

He told me it was a localized cancer, very rare. Matter of fact, I think the real name of it is T Cell Lymphoma CD34. It's some combination of stuff, which is really rare.

So, then we did the 20 treatments of radiation from the last week of December 1995 to the first three weeks of January 1996.

Then the radiologist came and told me, "This is it. I think you are clear." He told me the cancer may come back or it may not, but not to worry about it. He told me that the best thing for me to do was to go on and live life.

I told him OK and thanked him and that was in January 1996. But then in November 1996, the cancer came back. I started having spots on my legs, spots on my biceps and spots on my back. I went to my doctor and that's when it started to hit me. I said, "Cancer?"

But in all that, it makes my faith stronger. Because it would be easy for me to say, "I love God because I got over cancer in 1996, diagnosed in 1995 and cured in 1996. Oh, well God is great, God is great!" I haven't been tested. My test comes because I am still fighting the cancer. The cancer is still in my body. It's a rare thing. So, I'm walking the walk now.

So, I have got cancer on the run. I was scared and fear came in and I tested myself and said, "T, what's with this fear stuff?" So, I tell everyone now. I needed cancer. I needed cancer to test my faith against the fear. Cancer represents fear. I never really was tested before. My faith was never really tested. I was never really afraid of anything. I wasn't really challenged to get where I am.

Cancer was my only challenge I ever had. I needed it. How would I know my God is a healer before I got sick?

Lisa: Is that why you said that cancer saved your life?

Mr. T: Yep. See I'm not worried about getting it anymore. I've been through those things. So, it makes me stronger. Like when I go to the hospital for my check-up.

As I look back, Lisa, I look back and next Monday will be five years. I thought a lot of days I couldn't make it.

So, I have a message to tell the other cancer patients. Don't quit. I know what you are going through. I know the pain, the anguish. I know the loneliness, the solitude. So, I think about that verse in the Bible that says, "Who shall I send, here am I, send me." Here am I, Lord send me.

Lisa: So, what's next for Mr. T? Are you going to take it to the church?

Mr. T: You know I said in an interview many years ago that when my career was over I planned to go into the ministry. I'm 48-years-old now so I'm planning in about 3 to 4 years. So, I'll be 51 if I do it in three.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my mother and she said, "Son, I had a dream about you preaching." Actually, in a sense, I see myself doing it, but I guess I don't have a pulpit.

Lisa: Yes, you do. Look out church! Here he comes!


The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. © 2001

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