By Patricia Paddey -
I first met David Mainse, the founder of Crossroads Christian Communications 35 years ago. That’s a lifetime for some people. I was 16, and had just been selected to join the eight-member cast of an ambitious new teen television series Crossroads was planning to produce, called Inside Track.
For the next few years – as I finished high school and then attended university – I worked for Crossroads out of their Toronto studios at 100 Huntley Street, first as a volunteer cast member, then later as a part-time staffer in behind-the-scenes production.
I always thought David was an imposing figure. Tall and broad shouldered, with a sometimes booming voice, he should have been intimidating. But he wasn’t. He was far too real to be scary. What you see of David Mainse on TV is exactly what David Mainse is: a family man, passionate, emotional, optimistic, a little long-winded at times, perhaps, and always with an agenda.
But David’s agenda has never been either hidden or complex; it’s simply been to spread the good news about Jesus Christ to all who will listen.
Contrary to the impressions of his many adoring fans, David’s not perfect. Like all of us, he has his flaws. And he would be the first to admit it. But he’s been an incredible leader who has managed to birth and grow what may well be the largest, longest running Christian media ministry in this country. With multi-media programming, a missions organization, a broadcast school and a national prayer centre that staffs 100 volunteers to field 30,000 calls each month, providing 24/7 telephone prayer support to Canadians, the lives of countless people in this country have been touched in one way or another as a result of David’s vision and efforts. Including mine.
So when I heard recently that Crossroads was soon to celebrate their 50th Anniversary, and that David, now 75, was fighting a serious battle for his health, I felt compelled to send up a prayer for the man and for his family. And when Maranatha News invited me to conduct a telephone interview with David, to gather his reflections on the occasion of this anniversary milestone, I looked forward to hearing how he is doing as he approaches life’s final journey.
It turns out he’s doing very well. But then, if you’ve ever met David, you wouldn’t expect him to be otherwise.
MN: You began treatment in April for myelodysplastic syndrome. How are you feeling?
DM: Well, the Lord is actually really giving me amazing strength, regardless of [my] condition. [My doctor] has used the term – and he won’t say I have not moved over into acute leukemia, and he’s also given me kind of a terminal date, but I said, ‘Not to worry. I know who’s gonna meet me at the terminal.’
I’ve had two sessions of seven days each – 21 chemo injections over a seven day period in April and another seven days in May now. I’ve finished that. And I’m doing that for six months at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton.
MN: You and Norma Jean are planning another trip to Israel in November. Is that correct?
DM: Lord willing, yes, we’re going in November and it’s filling up quite quickly already. We normally have to cut it off around the beginning of August.
MN: Your treatments will be finished by that point?
DM: The end of September, I have to have another bone marrow extraction after the six months. Dr. Foley … says we’ll see where we go from there.
MN: Crossroads’ 50th anniversary – many would say the fact that the ministry is celebrating this milestone is in large measure a reflection of your leadership over the years. What would you attribute it to?
DM: Well of course, I attribute it to the Lord. God is much more interested in this than I could ever be. And we are just seeking to think His thoughts after Him and to hear from Him, and to boldly do what we believe He has called us to do. Of course in order to do that, you’ve got to be willing to fall on your face and look like the biggest fool that ever tried to do anything for God. And like Dawson Trotman – who wrote the Billy Graham follow-up literature back in the 40’s – said, “We need to attempt things for God that are so humanly impossible that they will surely fail if God is not in them.” I’ve sought to follow that.
MN: There are countless Canadians over the years who – by their donations – have literally made Crossroads financially possible. When you reflect on the enormity of that financial commitment over 50 years – what are your thoughts?
DM: They’re all so important. Without them, we could do nothing. The Lord’s inspiration upon them of course. And they’re still there. All kinds of them have gone to heaven. Thousands of them have gone to heaven and they’re reaping the rewards of their faithfulness.
MN: When you consider the many challenges and obstacles Crossroads has faced over the past half-century – what would you say has been the greatest?
DM: Well the greatest was in 1992 when we opened this building here [the Crossroads Centre in Burlington, Ontario]. Unfortunately the costs went a way over from the estimates of the builder and the architect and so on. And so we were in trouble … God brought us through.
MN: You’ve stated publicly that you have no regrets. But what would you say has been one of the greatest life lessons you needed to learn that God has taught you through Crossroads?
DM: The lesson was when we went daily. We had a 90-minute daily live show. The Lord taught me that if I didn’t spend 90-minutes alone in His presence, every morning early, that what would happen on 100 Huntley Street would just be me. And that’s a big zero. … And so what the Lord communicated to me was, ‘David you would just be presenting yourself. But if you want to present me in the power of the Holy Spirit you’ve got to spend an equal amount of time in my presence before you go on the air every morning. And that has become a lifestyle pattern for me.
Beginning on the 50th anniversary I’m starting a blog called 100.ca. It will lead people, God willing, through the Bible in two years. … I’ll take 100 words and comment on a key verse. … I’m to upload that at 6 a.m. every morning.
MN: You’ve seen so many changes – to Canada’s social and media landscapes over five decades. What words of advice would you have for today’s Christian communicators?
DM: Just keep on being salt. Preserve. Flavour. Be out there in the midst of the cause of Christ. Be personal soul winners. Talk about Jesus. Don’t talk about your church. Don’t talk about your doctrines and so on. … Let it be about Jesus.
(Photos by: Crossroads Christian Communications Inc.)