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In Search of Real Faith

with Wayne Huizenga | April 9, 2009

Do you ever feel like something is missing from your life? Wayne Huizenga, Jr. and his wife, Fonda, had all the world could offer financially, but spiritually, they were bankrupt. Today Wayne, whose investments include the Miami Dolphins and Dolphin Stadium, tells Dennis Rainey about his ride on a nuclear submarine which took him from South Carolina to Florida, and eventually, to a relationship with God.

Do you ever feel like something is missing from your life? Wayne Huizenga, Jr. and his wife, Fonda, had all the world could offer financially, but spiritually, they were bankrupt. Today Wayne, whose investments include the Miami Dolphins and Dolphin Stadium, tells Dennis Rainey about his ride on a nuclear submarine which took him from South Carolina to Florida, and eventually, to a relationship with God.

In Search of Real Faith

With Wayne Huizenga
|
April 09, 2009
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: This is Bob Lepine from FamilyLife Today.  Before we get started with today's program, which is a good program, by the way, we need to talk with all of our listeners about what's happening here at FamilyLife, Dennis.

Dennis: Bob, I just had a birthday, and I did not realize I had as many friends.  You know why?

Bob: Because of …

Dennis: I'm on Facebook.

Bob: Facebook.

Dennis: I'm on Facebook.  I got all these e-mails from people wishing me a happy birthday.  It was fun.  It really was fun to know I had that many friends.  Well, you know what?  I'm coming to you as a friend right now because I need your help – financially, FamilyLife Today is facing some challenging days, and so if you're a friend of FamilyLife Today, would you go to our website or to our 800 number and say, "I'd like to help you guys during these financially challenging days.

Bob: Our website is FamilyLifeToday.com.  You can donate online, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation – 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and, of course, you can be Dennis's friend on Facebook.  You need to send a note to everybody on Facebook.

Dennis: And everybody who gives just write me a note, and I'll write you back.

Bob: Yeah, maybe.

[musical transition]

Bob: Wayne Huizenga, Jr., remembers meeting and befriending a submarine captain whose life modeled and reflected his walk with Jesus.  It was something that Wayne found very intriguing.

Wayne: We became great friends, and I figure anybody that could lead 110 men and manage them for six  months at a time underwater would be someone that I could learn from.  One day, after a few years of spending time together, I asked him why we were so different, and he basically told me that he lived his life by reading his Bible every day, and that he got guidance from it and went on to tell me that I had a hole in my heart.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, April 9th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine, and I bet most of you know what made that submarine captain different.  Whether you do or don't, it's a compelling story.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You know, with sports teams, when two teams are getting ready to play, the odds-makers try to pick who is going to win and who is going to lose, what the point spread will be.  In marriages, you don't have people making odds, but if you did, folks probably would have looked at Wayne Huizenga Jr.'s early marriage and said, "You know, the odds here, just given all of the factors going on, the odds aren't good that this marriage will go the distance."

Dennis: No, in fact, I think it would be a setup, wouldn't you say, Wayne?

Wayne: Absolutely, absolutely.  You would – it was the long shot.  You'd have picked the long shot if you would have thought it would have continued in 17 years now and would have been as successful and would have gotten as healthy as it is now, absolutely.

Dennis: You lived together how many years before you were married?

Wayne: Three years and three months.

Dennis: And ended up getting married and having four children.  Wayne and his father are owners of the Miami Dolphins.  His dad was very successful in business, I guess, present tense – is very successful.  He started a little garbage company called Waste Management Incorporated, the world's largest waste management company, and you grew up in that home where you had a lot of wealth, a lot of choices, a lot of options where all this was taking place, and it really set you up to be able to live with one another. 

And what I want to take you back to is when the spiritual lights began to first come on in your life.  Do you remember the first inkling that there was a God, there was someone who was pursuing you?  I'm speaking of your adult years, now, Wayne.

Wayne: Right.

Dennis: Do you remember when that thought began to occur to you?  Was it because of your wife and the change in her life?  How did God begin to break through to you?

Wayne: Well, it started with my mother telling me that I needed to ground my children, and …

Bob: She didn't mean you needed to lock them up for a week and not let them out of the house – not grounding them like that but getting them spiritually grounded, right?

Wayne: Exactly, that's a good clarification. 

Bob: I've needed to ground my children.

Wayne: I ground my children now, yes – to ground the spiritually and ground them as individuals, because the lifestyle that we were leading was so out there and so non-traditional and filled with so much excess.  But I didn't pay my mother much attention as often happens, but God had a plan, and He sent me on a submarine ride with Captain Brad "Fleetwood" McDonald, and I went on the Mendel Rivers, a fast-attack nuclear submarine at the invitation of a friend of mine, and we spent three days cruising from South Carolina to Ft. Lauderdale.

Dennis: Now, wait, wait, wait, yeah – a submarine.

Bob: How do you sign up for one of those deals?  How did this happen, that you wind up on this nuclear sub?

Wayne: A friend of mine invited me, and he had hosted the – at the time, Captain Brad was not a captain, he was the XO, he was the second in charge of another submarine; was in Ft. Lauderdale, which is a pretty famous port for the Navy, on Thanksgiving.  Ran into Brad on Thanksgiving, invited him to his house for Thanksgiving dinner, and then Brad, when he became a captain of the submarine, he got his own ship and invited this friend of mine to come with four other friends to a …

Bob: Now, this is a Navy ship.

Wayne: A Navy submarine.

Bob: There aren't any private nuclear subs out there that you can just lease.

Wayne: No.

Bob: So he's the commander of this Navy nuclear sub and say, "If you guys would like to go, we're running from Ft. Lauderdale up to North Carolina or the other way around?

Wayne: The other way around – from South Carolina to Ft. Lauderdale.

Bob: If you guys would like to go along for the ride, we've got bunks for you?

Wayne: Exactly.  We have room, and the Navy at that time was looking to take people of wealth and influence and show them what they do and introduce them to the young people that are just phenomenal that serve in the armed forces and at a level that was just unbelievable.

Dennis: So what took place on the sub ride that ultimately headed you toward God?

Wayne: A relationship with Brad.  He took me on his ship, so I invited him to come fishing with me, and we became great friends, and I figured anybody that could lead 110 men and manage them for six months at a time underwater would be someone that I could learn from, and I began asking him questions about how he led, how he managed conflict, and that type of thing, and he always took me back to his Bible.  He never pushed it on me, but he always had the answers that were found in his Bible.

One day, after a few years of spending time together, I asked him why we were so different, and I said, "You don't drink in excess like I do, you don't swear like I do, and you're a sailor."

[laughter]

And he just had this peace and vision about the world that was unlike any of the other men that I had ever met in my life, and I asked him what made him different.

Bob: Now, you were, what, 35 at this time?

Wayne: Yes.

Bob: And you'd been married for five years?

Wayne: About five years, yes.

Bob: And you were still partying?

Wayne: Very hard.

Bob: And your wife had quit partying with you?

Wayne: Not quite yet.

Bob: Not yet, and this guy is talking to you about the Bible, and he's not living the life that you would expect a sailor would live.

Wayne: Exactly, quite the opposite.

Bob: But it didn't arrest you to the point of you going, "I want to make a change?"

Wayne: No, it led me to "I want to be more like he is."  It really showed me how different our lifestyles were, and it was bittersweet when he'd come to visit.  One day I got up the courage, and I asked him, and he basically told me that God lived in his heart, that he lived his life by reading his Bible every day, and that he got guidance from it, and went on to tell me that I had a hole in my heart, and that that was where God was supposed to live and compared that hole in my heart to a black hole in outer space that consumes meteors and space rubble and anything that gets near it, and he said that that hole in my heart, that I was trying to fill it with travel and boats and cars and planes and drinking and business deals and that it would consume all of that, and the only way to fill it and to truly be happy was with a relationship with God.

Bob: So when he said that, did you go, "That's it.  That's what I need."  Or did you go, "I'll think about that."

Wayne: I walked away after the trip, and I thought, "Could it be that simple?"  And then I started to try to find a church to go to, and I started asking my friends, and none of my close friends went to church, and I guess I shouldn't have been surprised with the kind of life that I was living.

Finally, I found a friend, Lynn, and she told me that she went to church.  I said, "Tell me about your church."  "Oh, the pastor is wonderful, and he's relevant and young and talks about current events and he likes to play sports, and he likes to scuba dive."  And that stuck in my mind because I love to scuba dive.  "Well, that's a great church.  I'll try that church" – sophisticated selection.

Bob: Uh-huh.

Dennis: Yeah, really.

Bob: And you wandered into the scuba-diving church, right?

Wayne: Yes.

Bob: And what happened?

Wayne:  She was absolutely right.  The pastor was very charismatic and gave great sermons, and I left feeling very convicted and knowing that I needed to change my life but not quite knowing how.  And that went on for – I started inviting all my friends. We would sit three rows back on the left.  We were seated there every Sunday if we were in town, and the next thing we know, we filled up a pew and another pew and …

Dennis: Now, wait a second.  You hadn't made a commitment to Christ yet, and you're bringing your friends to church.

Wayne: Absolutely.

Dennis: Because you think you're coming close to finding what you're looking for?

Wayne: That's right, and I'm doing it the right way.

Dennis: You're wanting your friends to find it, too?

Wayne: Exactly.  I'm going on this journey, and I want you all to come with me.  Unfortunately, after we'd leave church, we'd go to the yacht club and have breakfast and then go sit by my pool and drink beer and fall back into the same ways.

Bob: Okay, so we've got you from partier to church-going partier.

Wayne: That's correct, yes – doing a great injustice to the Christian world – look at me.

Bob: And when did – I want to put this delicately, but when did you sober up, you know, when did God really wake you up to the fact that is a difference between playing church and following Jesus?

Wayne: Yes, that's a great question, Bob.  A couple of friends of mine that knew the truth, that knew that I really wasn't a Christian is, although I had been professing to be one, invited me to go to their church.  It was a giant megachurch, and I went, and I sang songs that I'd never sung before.   No hymnals, everything up on the big screen, and I listened to an hour-long message that rocked my world and culminating with the pastor talking about having a personal relationship with Christ and challenging that – was there more to being a Christian than just attending church on Sunday?  And really hitting home, saying, "Why did God allow you to be born," and moreso, why have you been given the things that you've been given?  As we've heard, I've been given a ton.

Dennis: And so what did you do?

Wayne: It was kind of an uncontrollable thing, Dennis.  It was like I had springs in my legs.  I stood up out of my chair, and I had no facial hair then – I had a sweat mustache on my upper lip and sweat on my brow, and I started to make my way down the road to the aisle, and I heard this voice that I recognize very well now saying, "Sit down, Junior, you look so foolish," but there was no way, and I made my way to the front of this church with a bunch of other people that night, and my two friends escorted me to the front, and I fell to my knees, and I began to cry and not just a little crying.  I mean, I was crying like I've never really cried before, and telling God how sorry I was that He had given me so much; that I knew that I wasn't living the right way, and I prayed that simple, short prayer that changed my life.

Bob: Was Fonda with you that night?

Wayne: No, she wasn't.  I got up and tried to dry my eyes, and my friend's wife came up to me.  She said, "You got saved tonight, Junior."  Ohhh, I didn't get that "saved" thing, I didn't understand what that was, and I didn't really like the term.  "Ohhhh, it was a recommitment," and she just looked at me like, "If that was a recommitment, oh, my goodness," and she knew the truth.

Bob: So did you go home and tell your wife, "Something weird happened at church tonight?"

Wayne: I did, I did, and she didn't understand at all, and she became frightened by it, and she told me later that she thought that I had been abducted by aliens, and where is my husband?

Bob: Really?

Dennis: So the change was that dramatic almost immediately?

Wayne: I told her that something happened, and I tried to go and behave the way that I did at parties, and I woke up the next morning feeling terrible, and I tried to drink less, and I'd still say outrageous things, and I'd find I'd set my cocktail down at the party and go find a quiet spot and go, "Lord, I'm sorry that I said that.  Please forgive me."

Dennis: Did you surprise yourself you were having these conversations over in a corner?  Huh?

Wayne: Yeah, absolutely.

Dennis: I mean, here is Mr. Party Hearty, and all of a sudden you're putting the glass down, you're going over in a corner apologizing to God?

Wayne: To God.

Dennis: For your language?

Wayne: For my behavior, absolutely.

Bob: I want to unpack the impact that one person getting radically saved has on a marriage when the other person is kind of not sure what's going on.  You described that Fonda was afraid.  She really didn't get what was happening and didn't know what it meant for you or for her or for both of you together, did she?

Wayne: No, not at all, and I didn't know how to explain it, in all fairness, Bob.  I just knew that something had changed, and I had this immediate joy, and she told me later that she would make fun of me and ridicule me, and I don't remember any of that.  All I remember is believing in my heart that Christ would do a wonderful work in her and rejoicing and praying for her.  I don't remember it being difficult, I don't remember her making fun of me, I don't remember any of the things that she said that she told me that she said and, of course, she was right, she probably did.

Bob: Did she see a change in you, and did she like it or not?

Wayne: She did.  She saw a change in me, and it scared her, but she liked it and …

Bob: What did she like about the Wayne who loved Jesus versus the Wayne she'd been married to before?

Wayne: I think a kinder, gentler husband that was more focused on her and on the children that was less about the world that didn't want to go out and celebrate and party; that didn't come home and was not hungover on Saturday and wanted to spend time with them – that behaved differently.  I think that she liked that part but was threatened because she knew that she wasn't there yet, and she was involved in a great women's Bible study, a small group, closed covenant group, that she nicknamed "The Bible Babes," a bunch of 40s gals, and she began her journey.  And she's an engineer, a biomedical and an electrical engineer, and she had to do the research.  She had to find that thread through the Old Testament to the New Testament to ultimately judge that either Jesus is a liar and a lunatic, and He's not who He says He was, or that, indeed, He is God's Son, and is the Creator of the Universe.  And she made that decision, she called the Bible Babes and asked them to meet her at church, unbeknownst to me, and she had been attending church with me for about six months, and one night she walked forward.  She made that commitment.

She used to joke with me, she's from the South, her family is from Tennessee, and she'd say, "Do they ever raise their hands there in the church?"  I said, "Well, sometimes, when we're singing really wonderful praise to God, we'll raise our hands."  She said [clicks tongue to cheek].  I said, "What?"  She said, "They're going to come out on stage with snakes one day, you just watch."

Wayne: I said, "They are not.  It's not that kind of church."

Dennis: You know, Wayne, you've really modeled something here that I think is good, whether it's a wife living with a husband who is not a follower of Christ or perhaps a husband whose wife isn't a believer in Christ, and that is you modeled a love for Christ that wasn't so fanatical that it threatened her feeling like she was important to you, but your love for Christ fueled your love for her, and you served her, and you modeled what Ephesians 5 talks about – of a husband loving his wife as Christ loves the church.

Bob: Well, and we've seen so many couples who come to the Weekend to Remember conference, where one person knows Christ, the other person doesn't, but they find that's a safe kind of an environment where they can hear about the Gospel together, and nobody's feeling preached at, but in the context of understanding what God's plan for marriage is, we just see God soften hearts around the reality of a person's need for Jesus.

Dennis: We do, Bob.  In fact, I just saw a number here recently – over 52,000 people have indicated a decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ at one of our Weekend to Remember conferences.  And I think we'd be remiss today, Wayne, if we didn't just invite someone who is listening who doesn't know Jesus Christ right now.  I think after talking about the change in your life and look across the table to the listener and say, "Would you like to have that kind of relationship with Jesus Christ?"

Bob: Fill the hole in your heart?

Dennis: Would you like to fill the hole?  Wayne, would you just explain to them how they can do that?  Because it's – the God who changed your heart and life is right there, right now, for that person.

Wayne: Absolutely, it would be an honor.  The words aren't important, as I learned in Revelations 3:20, my favorite verse in the Bible.  It says, God says, "I stand at the door and knock."  He's knocking on the door of your heart, "And whoever shall open the door, I shall enter, and we will sup together forever and ever."

My prayer is that you hear Him knocking, and all you have to do is open the door to your heart and say, "Jesus, I realize I have sinned; that I can't get into heaven by myself.  Will you please come and live in my heart and be my Father, be my Lord, be my Savior forever and ever."  And He will enter your heart and never, ever, ever leave you.  Just surrender your life to Him.  Tell Him you are ready to make a U-turn and stop trusting yourself for heaven, and that you are ready to trust Him, and He will change your life as radically as he did mine and my bride's forever and ever.

And then tell somebody.  Tell someone that you asked Christ to come and live in your heart, and that you know with certainty that you're going to go to heaven now.

Dennis: And stop what you're doing right now and just do this.

Wayne: Exactly.

Dennis: Don't get distracted with another duty or continuing to drive – pull off to the side of the road, make the commitment to Christ, and get on with real life.

Wayne: That's right.

Dennis: It's like a friend of mine who asked people – would you like to experience real life? Well, this is how you experience real life.  You can do with Christ right now.

Bob: You know, for years we have sent out hundreds of copies of a book called "Pursuing God," to folks who have contacted us and said, "I heard what you guys were talking about on the radio, and I prayed and asked Christ to come into my life, and I want to know what to do."  And this is a book that is a great starter guide for those who have given their lives to Christ.

And you can contact us at 1-800-FLTODAY and ask to receive a copy of the book "Pursuing God."  It's our gift to you.  Just call and say, "I heard what those guys were talking about on the radio today, and I prayed that prayer, and I'd like to get a copy of that book."  Again, it's called "Pursuing God," and we're happy to send it out to you at no cost.  In fact, we're thrilled to be able to do that as you've responded to what you've heard on FamilyLife Today.

And let me also say just a word if I can to those who might be listening who would say, "You know, I have prayed, and I've trusted Christ, but I find myself continuing to slip back into patterns, into habits, old patterns of sin in my life.

There is a book that I want to encourage you to get written by our friend, C.J. Mahaney called "Living the Cross-Centered Life."  It really helps us understand what it means to take the next step in your walk with Christ – what it means to live out the Gospel in your life each day, and we've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center as well.

There is information about that book on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and you can order a copy of it from us at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  Again, the title of the book is "Living the Cross-Centered Life," and you'll get more information about the book on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com.

There is also information there about the Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences that we talked about earlier in the program.  We do hope you will make plans to attend one of these upcoming conferences.  They're going to be happening later this spring in Southern California, in the Pacific Northwest, in Portland and Seattle, other cities all across the country.  A complete list of where the conference is being held is on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com.  You can get more information when you go to the Web, or you can call 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  Give us a call and make plans to attend one of these upcoming conferences.

You know, there is a new film that is out on DVD that is being used all around the world to tell about the good news of Christ in a variety of cultures.  It's a movie called "Magdalena, Released From Shame," and it talks particularly about the impact that Jesus had on the lives of many of the women with whom He came in contact during His ministry. 

This week we are making DVD copies of this movie available to listeners who are able to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.  The DVD is called "Magdalena."  If  you would like to receive a copy when you make your donation, you can write the word, "Magdalena" in the keycode box on our donation form online, and we'll send a copy of the DVD to you.  Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, make a donation over the phone and ask for a copy of the DVD.  Again, we're happy to send it out to you, and we do so much appreciate your partnership with us in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for your financial support.

Well, tomorrow we are going to continue to talk more with Wayne Huizenga, Jr., about God's work in transforming his life.  I hope you can be back with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow.  

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Fun, engaging conversations about what it takes to build stronger, healthier marriage and family relationships. Join hosts Dave and Ann Wilson with FamilyLife Today® veteran cohost Bob Lepine for new episodes every weekday.

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