This month, I interview Stephen Weese, aka Steve Racer, the founder of Fans For Christ.
- What was your childhood like?
Wow, starting off straight into the deep questions! My childhood… in many ways I suppose it never ended. I loved reading, I started reading at age 2. I read science books mostly that my parents got me. One day I got the first Choose Your Own Adventure book, “The Cave of Time,” which was amazing to me even though you died terribly 90% of the time. I had Star Wars posters in my room, I had terrible nightmares almost every night, I was skinny, had thick glasses, and got picked on a lot. I had to sneak home via a hidden trail to avoid bullies after school. I always fell in love with the prettiest girl in my classes, and had zero chance with her. I flew model airplanes with my Dad, who had made me play baseball to help with my coordination problems, which worked. I was the Atari video game champ of my neighborhood, and I created a variety of “shows” on my Mom’s cassette recorder. I was always drawing things and creating, and I was a singer (cantor) at the local Catholic church. I fought and played with my sister, Julie, and started writing computer programs at age 10. If I wasn’t at the computer, I was exploring in the woods with a stick, pretending I was an adventurer in a fantasy land. Pretty much how I live now, really.
- How long have you been Christian?
Ever since I can remember my Mom prayed the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer with me before I went to bed. I always, always knew there was a God. I could feel him there. I know this isn’t everyone’s experience. At the age of ten I was baptized in the local Baptist church. I didn’t totally understand it, but I knew I wanted to give my life to God back then.
- What made you start Fans For Christ?
I didn’t really intend to create a Christian group or ministry. I saw a post on Cosplay.com asking if there were other Wiccans on the site, and I thought it would be fair to ask if there were other Christians. The response I got really amazed me. There were these Christian fans out there who had this unique experience of living in these two worlds that don’t overlap, and even have some hostility on both sides. I thought we should have a group to talk, share, and bond. The group then became more than that. A few years before, I was planning on becoming a pastor – but I had (and still have some) anxiety issues and didn’t feel like I could handle it. I had started training and everything, led worship, led small groups, gone to conferences… so that helped me make FFC into more than a group, but a ministry. I’m not sure exactly how you’d categorize us, but I love our folks. Christians are my family, and fans are my family too, and those people that are both – we belong together.
- What’s your favorite Bible verse? Why?
I love Revelation 21. It’s a few verses, actually. About how God will make everything new, and there will be no more “death or mourning or crying or pain.” Almost every time I read it I get tears. Anyone who has gone through the suffering of this world will know why I love this verse. One time, years ago while I was fasting and praying, I fell asleep. I had a vision. I woke up in a field of grass and clover, and the sun was shining. I knew I was on the new earth, because in my heart I felt that nothing was wrong. Nothing was wrong, anywhere. Everything was right. And I woke up and wept for the peace I felt in my heart for that brief moment.
- Who’s your favorite Biblical figure besides Jesus?
This tends to change over time, but my favorites are the ones that faced death rather than deny their faith. David faced Goliath, Daniel was not afraid of the king’s wrath. I always felt bad for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they are known by their pagan names. They were basically held in exile and given new Babylonian names, but their original names were Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael. They said that God could deliver them from the fiery furnace but “even if he does not” we will not bow before your false gods. Job said “though he slay me I will trust him” and Elijah stood alone in front of hundreds of priests of Baal and called down fire to burn and show who the true God was.
- Who inspires you to be a better person?
There are people I know who continue to remain true to their beliefs and what they know is good, regardless of circumstance. People who wouldn’t sell out for a million dollars, and people who have not let riches turn them into monsters. My friend and former freedom fighter Dr. J. Anthony del Marmol, who escaped Cuba and whose son was killed by the regime because he defied them. Bill Gates, who gives countless millions to improve life in third world countries. People who have gone through war, death, and terrible trials and yet still have loving hearts and are open to the future of humanity.
- I’ve heard claims that Christianity is going to go away. What are your thoughts on that claim?
Where would it go? Are we like the elves, all ready to sail away to the west? Seriously though, there are a lot of people who do not like religion, and Christianity in general. I understand that. Many things have been done in the name of God and even the name of Christ that harmed the brotherhood of humanity. Even today, many voices claiming to be of Christ condemn others and judge them, driving them away from Christ and God. Yet there are those of us that love Christ and love others, and I pray we are the ones that remain.
One third of the world calls themselves Christian in some way; a long way from a simple man in a small town in Israel proclaiming the truth. Rome could not destroy Christianity, persecution and death could not end it. I believe it persists and will persist because it is God’s truth, and if God is truly real, it cannot be taken away except by his will.
- Which denomination are you?
Generally speaking, I’m a Charismatic, which means I believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit – like healing, prophecy, words of knowledge – operate today and that we are to seek those things. I have studied many denominations, partially because Fans for Christ is open to all Christian denominations, and I have some theology from many of them. I love John Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodist church, and also John Wimber, one of the founders of the modern Vineyard movement. I probably associate closely with the Vineyard churches, but there isn’t one close to me. I have a lot of Reformed roots that persist in my theology, especially about the sovereignty of God. I go to a great charismatic church that is not part of a denomination–Harvest Rock, or HRock.
- Tell me about your book(s)?
In 2001 I wrote a computer book, The A+ Exam Prep, with a couple of cool technical authors. I mention that because if you search on Amazon you’ll see that come up under my name. I’m sure you’re asking about God Loves the Freaks, which is my book that I wrote because of my FFC ministry but also because of the wonderful people in the Christian Goth and Punk scene that I know. I was in a very legalistic church for a while and had to suppress who I really was to fit in. Besides that I became terribly anxious because I was always being corrected for minor things about what I said, how I dressed, or other things I couldn’t predict. I ended up not being able to go to church for over two years due to extreme anxiety. After I recovered I had an epiphany that God made me strange and different and that it was a wonderful thing. I expressed myself, entered the goth scene, and started my faith all over with Jesus at the center. I realized I was made this was for a reason and I could reach out to other freaks and geeks. The book is about my experiences as a Christian goth/geek, but also is an important source of bible verses and theology that explains that dressing differently, being weird, reading Harry Potter, playing D&D and many other things are not evil or wrong. It’s a defense and a great book to give to people who don’t understand us, but also an encouragement for those of us who are in this place – God loves us and accepts our uniqueness and you don’t have to wonder or worry about trying to conform to some man-made mold.
For most of my life I’ve suffered with Adrenal Fatigue or burnout – a condition many medical doctors don’t even believe in or give much credit to. In 2013 I had the worse episode I’ve ever experienced, I almost lost my mind and my body. Through a rigorous nutrition program, I’ve slowly recovered. I am writing a book on this experience to increase awareness and help other people who have similar problems. Adrenal fatigue is insidious, since the glands handle about five different hormones, you can have many different problems. Fibromyalgia is similar in that doctors didn’t believe it existed until enough people came forward and more studies were done. So, I’m writing this book, Adrenal Fatigue: Three Times Fallen, Three Times Reborn about my history and the three major episodes I’ve had, as well as what I have learned. I’m completing a diploma in nutritional balancing so I can help others. I realize that what I’m learning is considered alternative medicine and it’s controversial, but traditional medicine had no answer for me. So, there’s the short answer to your question.