Bob Walsh, and His Ventriloquist Ministry
In a wonderful evening, Bob Walsh was talking jubilantly about the gospel with his “friend” whose skin look really tough with a smaller size of his face and body. By the interesting voice and move of his little “friend”, there was laughing and laughing surrounding them! “There are people who have eyes but cannot see”, said Bob. Then his friend asked with a high-pitching voice, “What do you mean by they cannot see? They do have their eyes but without sight? ” Bob answered gently, “It means they could only be impressed by the outer appearance of people but not their real mind.” His friend laughed badly in a sudden which got the attention of everyone, “Ha! I do understand that! I used to laugh at the appearance of people! ” Bob responded with patience, “It is not appropriate as Jesus told us to understand the thought and mind of people in stead of merely their look.”
Surprisingly, the friend of Bob is actually a PUPPET! Bob the ventriloquist gives life to his puppets by speaking in several voices at a time, talking and interacting with them on stage. It is not simply a show, but a ministry targeting the children group. “It is of ministry reasons for all these performances; though doing that in a business purpose will I be granted a lot of money.” said Bob. The living puppet would attract children attention, and the gospel messages will be reinforced by the story he told, according to Bob.
The path that opened for him
It was not until his twenties that Bob for the first time really encountered with and learned the drama. After dedicated his life to Jesus in his twenties, Bob prayed to the Lord one day, “I prayed that God would give me the gift to share his joy and peace to people.” A simple prayer led him to the way, “There was an advertisement in a magazine, stating that by delivering $1 US dollar to the address stated and I will get a booklet giving instructions to ventriloquists. ” Bob did make a try on it though not being very sure of the return. After some weeks there was a booklet sent back which he commented as useful, “It gave some very useful reminders. Such as mentioning the differentiation between D and B, P and T, also M and N.” He started self-learning the skills until now.
Starting from 1979 Bob started performing at family and church gatherings. It was a surprise that in the 80s chances were provided for him to perform for working purposes. Bob shared his story delightfully, “At that time I was in the navy and when we settled at a certain place we would get down and introduce our place to people. My colleagues from the public relation department asked somebody to perform as ventriloquist when presenting our country. I volunteered to perform and talk to people.” Bob met many people on land, one of them is a Chinese, Tony. “Tony was very interested about the puppet. We talked and had lunch together, and later we discovered that both of us are Christians.” There was 7 years that the two of them lost connection. Bob said, “There was time that I was having him in my mind. Without any assurance of the connection I tried to put the name of his workplace on the search engine and the result was remarkable.” Thanks to the technology the long-lost friends were tied up again, which paves the way to Bob’s ministry in China.
After retirement from the navy Bob changed his working position from the sea ship to the jail. Seriously it was not a pleasant one at the very beginning, “You cannot imagine how hard it is working in jail. I keep asking God for three years whether He had put me at the wrong position.” Bob shared sincerely. It was until later he recognized the will of the Lord, he shared, “God speaks to me in my heart, makes me feel and understand the need of nowadays youngsters. Why they were put into jail in their young age? It is because of their ignorance in morality and value.” He gave examples on the bad behavior of teenagers, “They solve problems by means of violence, they skip class, steal things…etc.” May be you name it they do it. Bob gave the proposal of character education by puppet performances at his office. Still the idea was not positively received at the early stage.
Bob mentioned that his wife always takes a crucial and important role in his life, including the moment of depression and darkness, “My wife, also a Christian always comforts and supports me. She makes the clothing of the puppets. She does the needlework and at the same time she is praying for me. One day she said that God has spoken to her that I will be going to serve the Lord, and the media is going to record it. ” Bob was wondering why God did not speak to him directly, but to his wife about his path. It was in 1994 that Bob has the chance again to propose the idea to his officer about giving character education to youngsters by means of puppet performance; and this time it was a PASS! In 2007 Bob was invited by Tony to do the ventriloquist ministry in China, and the event was covered by the local media.
The impressive journey in China
It was the third time that Bob stepped on the soil of China. This year he had been to Sichuan, Qingdao, Kunming, Beijing, and Hong Kong. He spoke about the gospel and performed puppet show in most of the staying area; and because of the religious constraint he simply talked about character education in some of the schools. Also, there were workshops for teachers, instructing them in using and controlling different voices. Though Bob would only get in touch with the Chinese School children for just one time, local teachers will reinforce the character education.
Though there was a language barrier, the school children were very grateful and energetic when watching his performance. Bob said, “I was very much impressed by the concentration and pleasure of the Chinese school children. Many may say that must be a total failure because of the language barrier but there is nothing impossible in the will of the Lord.” (The message of Bob was being translated by a third person, namely Tony.)
Bob shared his view, “When you are young you may want to serve the Lord. But when time pass you will only go much far away or closer to Him. With all those ups and downs in life I know that He will open the path when I trust Him.” Bob concluded that being a ventriloquist for him is the will of God and an answered prayer. He said, “Just as the character in movie Chariots of Fire, God gives him the platform of running to spread the gospel. And here God also gives me a little platform to talk about Him, and I am very happy about that! ”
Being a Ventriloquist
Bob talked about the skills that a Ventriloquist needs, “You have to keep your lips remaining steady and at the same time talk in different voices. The point is to let the audiences feel the realness of the puppets as they can see, talk, think and have their own character.” He suggested people who are interested could sing in scale to find the appropriate pitch of different voices; and practice in front of the mirror by looking and interacting with the puppet is also an effective way.
–(Hong Kong Christian Times writer Jessica)