LEAD ACTOR IN JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR HAD INCREDIBLE CONVERSION, AND A MEETING WITH AN EX-FAN NAMED CHARLES MANSON
Remember the famous or perhaps better said infamous smash Broadway hit, Jesus Christ, Superstar?
That was back in 1970 -- but even those too young to recall have probably heard of the play and attendant bestselling music, songs that have brought it into the Rock Hall of Fame.
Millions of albums.
Anyway, we'd not previously known about the fascinating conversion of Jeff Fenholt, star of that play, who was cast into the lead role of Jesus and later briefly joined the deeply dark heavy-metal band, Black Sabbath. Jeff was converted by a former member of the Mafia.
As his story goes, after years of "success" -- the great wealth and fame (he graced the cover of Time) -- Fenholt found out that it was all dross (worthless, and really less than worthless, fame, money) and gave it up for Christ. Or so we hear from his testimony.
Fenholt grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and had his first Top Forty hit when he was just fourteen, kicking around in a number of bands before being cast in the mega-hit play at the iconic Mark Hellinger Theater in Manhattan.
It was the "big-time." It was worldliness "on steroids." Fenholt had a three-million-dollar home on Long Island (complete with sixteen bedrooms) and a chauffered limousine. Eventually, albums he was involved with were to sell what he reports as a total of thirty million. Into drugs, alcohol, and wanton sex, he was married to a Catholic woman who -- among other things -- anointed him as he slept with holy oil!
Never discount the power of a Catholic wife.
At any rate, as he recounts it:
"All this crazy stuff happened in my life.
"They talk about 'down-and-out.' Up-and-out isn't so good either. I was full of the devil -- so bound up and oppressed and I'd gotten into satanism and had been going to satanic rituals. I was bound up when I was doing Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar."
Meanwhile, his wife was "freaking him out." She was "dumping oil on my head in my sleep! She was writing Scripture verses in my clothes. [When I'd ask about it she'd say and say], 'What's Jn. 3:16, baby, my name ain't John? she'd say, 'Oh, I don't know, just never mind.'" She loved him even though he had beaten her on occasion -- once requiring hospitalization. "I said. 'you can't be saved, you're Catholic. What's your priest think of that?' And she said, 'My priest led me to Jesus, and he's saved too.' I'd tell her, 'It's a good thing you're beautiful and crazy because if you were ugly and crazy I'd get rid of you.'"
One night returning from Europe in that limo the driver pointed out pickup trucks with Jesus stickers on them at his home. They belonged to construction workers who had started an addition to their home. His wife had hired a Christian company that was sort of a half-way house for troubled people who had come to Jesus. It was owned by a contractor named Nick DiSippio, a former mob guy.
One day after waking up "at the crack of noon," he went downstairs to confront the workers over all the loud hammering. He wanted them to start later in the day. He expected to encounter a bunch of folks in "Dairy-Queen-like costumes," born-againers "with shiny little hammers." Instead, his eyes were met by the unlikely sight of men with long hair, beards, or heads shaved, tattoos, low baritones, and burly builds, ex-druggers who worked for the construction company. Still, Fenholt started to pick a fight with them and demanded to speak to the fellow in charge.
DiSippio materialized. "Oh, you gonna talka to me?" said the former mobster, in a broken accent, as Fenholt tried to create a ruckus. "You gonna talka to me, huh? Well I'm gonna talka to you. Bigga rock star. Hey, guys, we got a bigga rock star here. 'Hey, I wanna talk to you.' You even played Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar? Are you ready now to meet the real Jesus the Christ?!'
When Nicky confronted him right back, the rocker-and-roller felt "like a raccoon looks at truck headlights." "I felt a panic attack coming," says Fenholt. But he got macho and fought back and insulted Nicky.
Then he went to his room and spent three hours behind locked doors, shaking -- from fear and perhaps also the Spirit of God moving into the home.
"I'm wealthy, I've got everything I've always wanted in this world, but I am losing my mind," he recalls. "I needed something. And I said, 'God, I need something.' And I started to try to pray and a demonic voice spoke to me from all the spirit guide stuff I'd been doing and said, 'They are not Christians. You are great in the kingdom of darkness, you belong to the darkness, and so the devil has sent these men in to pretend they're Christians. Do they look like Christians to you? You don't know where they're from. You don't know if they're licensed. You don't know anything and they have been instructed to test you and see if you are ready to come out of the demonic realm and if you say yes they have instructions to murder you and disappear.'
"You want to talk about paranoia?" says Fenholt. "I wrestled with that and I said, 'God Whoever You are, if I go down those steps and they kill me, please remember that I died trying to find You. I can't deal with this anymore.'"
"God I need something," he said aloud.
He decided to go back downstairs and challenge them to pray for him.
Approaching the work crew again, Fenholt made clear that he "wasn't into" Jesus but did as he planned: challenged them to pray for him -- expecting them to lapse into soft prayer.
Instead, he says, "They came at me like a herd of Brahma bulls. I started getting a panic attack because those demons in me knew their time was up. I tried to run. This guy I'd tried to pick a fight with put his arm around my neck and held me. 'You ain't goin' anywhere,' he said. The next thing I knew they laid their hands on my and I felt the power of God come over me and it was the most amazing moment in my life. He who the Son sets free is free indeed!"
It was the beginning of a radical conversion -- one that eventually would see him star on Trinity Broadcasting Network -- and sell huge numbers of Christian albums.
God had His designs on Jeff all along. "I was born under a bad sign but guess what: I've been reborn under the Sign of the Cross." Jesus had not forgotten the man who -- however wrongly -- had portrayed Him.
And suddenly, he had newfound respect for all those Christians he thought were so hapless and uncool -- those "little old ladies" who prayed. Now he says:
"You know what the difference between a praying grandma and a pit bull is? Lipstick."
He recalled times playing in arenas when Christians would gather outside to picket. "They're of the devil," they would shout at the rock-n-roll attendees. "They're of the devil."
"Yeah, we were of the devil," says Fenholt. "But where's the love?"
Now, that all changed. He was no longer of the devil, even if there were ups and downs in his journey to Christ (even that brief stint with Black Sabbath).
He too became bold in the Lord.
"Charles Manson wrote to me and said he wanted me to visit because he was an old fan of mine," recalls the musician. "Boy that's a rave for the old life of mine, isn't it?
"So I got in to see Manson. They locked me down in this little cell with no windows and when I got in there with Manson he turned and he looked at me. He had greasy hair, long, greasy hair and a beard and fingernails about this long and the swastika tattooed to his forehead. Now I'm not judgmental, but that's hard to miss.
"Here I am in that little room and people said you better pray because it'll be dangerous in there and I said, 'Yeah, it's dangerous for the devil when the Holy Ghost shows up.'
"I got in there and he had his back to me, up against the wall. I said, 'Yo, dude.' He turns around and looks at me and he came walking over and stuck his face up in my face and his eyes got like a snake's and he said [in a low, growling voice] 'Why are you here to see Charlie Manson?'
"Tell you the truth," he jokes, "I wanted to go, 'Ah, taxi?'
"I was locked in that room for two-and-a-half hours. Once you're locked in, you're not coming out. I was in there designated for two-and-a-half hours.
"I'm looking at him and at first I have to admit it hit me and I felt this oppressive thing, the devil trying to establish territory. So I thought, 'Praise the Lord Jesus Christ, I'm not taking this from the devil or anyone and [the voice again] goes, 'Why are you here to see Charlie?' And [in the same voice I said], 'I come in the Name of Jesus!'" The oppression fell away.
The Lord wins in every circumstance.
Mafia? Manson? Ex-druggers?
Anything and anyone is fair game for the real Jesus the Christ, as Nicky put it.
[Resources: Thomas á Kempis' Imitation of Christ and What You Take To Heaven' see also: Spirit Daily pilgrimage to Fatima, Avila, Lourdes and Michael Brown retreat, Mass scheduled for 'Betania' site near Boston]
Donations: we need and appreciate it!
E-mail this link directly
Donations: we need and appreciate it!
E-mail this link directly
Spirit Daily on Twitter Facebook
25% OFF! THE SEVEN - BY MICHAEL H. BROWN
15% OFF! SEVEN DAYS WITH MARY - BY MICHAEL H. BROWN
3 FOR $18! THE OTHER SIDE - BY MICHAEL H. BROWN
Mary Undoer of Knots plus The Holy Cloak novena, $7.25
Michael Brown's books on Kindle or Nook
Return to home page www.spiritdaily.com