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Our Extreme Story
"FUN IS SERIOUS BUSINESS TO US" quotes Steve Gambrill, The Extreme Balloon Man. Who is an "I don't want to grow up kind of guy". Steve has captured the hearts of audiences of all ages nationally and internationally.
He captured one heart particularly. Steve loves to say, my wife is a CLOWN. Marlyn AKA M&M the clown brought a whole new magic into Steve's life. Together they founded The Extreme Family Entertainment Ministries and discovered for the kingdom, a world of entertainment GOSPEL STYLE. Their unique talents merged with their hearts of compassion are reaching people for Christ through love and laughter everywhere they go.
Interviewer: So tell us, Extreme Balloon Man about Steve. Who is Steve?
- Extreme Balloon Man: Steve, he is The Extreme Balloon Man.
Interviewer: I see, Steve is an ordinary fellow and the Extreme Balloon Man is extraordinary. My instincts say you are one in the same. Unstoppable, unbelievable and unforgettable. Steve share with us your Extreme Story.
- Steve: I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior at the age of 24. The Lord called me to serve Him with the gifts He instilled in me. I just didn't know then, exactly what my gifts were and how and where to use them. I didn't think about magic or touch a balloon until I was 38 years old. From the time I was a child my mind was always wondering off in space, and the education system didn't have many programs to deal with this. Little did I know my A.D.D. was the key to my ministry and livelihood. What I thought was my enemy turned out to be my best friend.
- College was of no interest to me, my A.D.D. saw to that. My mind was busy creating. My desire was to minister. I worked part time for Youth For Christ, taught Sunday school, preached, did a weekly church service at the American Rescue Workers (www.americanrescueworkers.org) in Baltimore City and whatever else I could as often as I could to share the gospel of Christ.
- Since then I have sought the Lord's will for my life in all I do. God's word says your gifts will make room for you. Develop your gifts and watch how God makes a way, when there is no way.
- I, as journeyman machinist worked for a large Aerospace Company and did very well while at the same time always working in ministry.
- As a youth leader and children's church teacher at my church, I attended a weekend conference on creative ministries. My mind got really busy. I couldn't stop thinking of creative ideas like puppets, object lessons, etc. As I continued taking this fun stuff as serious business, I connected with the Funhouse Magic Shop in Baltimore thinking magic was a ticket for me. To add a little color and lift to my performances, I started playing around with balloons. People loved them. Young and old. They are so visual that they keep your attention.
Interviewer: BALLOONS! Balloons worked.
- Steve: Yes they did and they are still working. I became a student of balloons. Buying books, videos, going to conventions, and practicing all the time.
Interviewer: Now let me recap this. You were doing ministry work, working a full time job, traveling and studying balloons.
- Steve: My first effort and commitment was to my 3 children. I was raising them as a single dad.
Interviewer: You mentioned earlier you had a Clown for a WIFE.
- Steve: Not exactly, I said my wife is a Clown. Yes, Marlyn was a single mom for 10 years with 2 children. She managed and operated her own cleaning service while involved in children's ministry. I would like for you to meet her.
Interviewer: She is here with you?
- Steve: She is always with me. She's my wife my partner and my best friend.
Interviewer: Hello Marlyn, AKA M&M
- Marlyn: Pleased to meet you.
Interviewer: Marlyn, so you love Steve, The Extreme Balloon Man and you are the magic that dazzles the dazzeler?
- Marlyn : I don't know about that! Yes I love Steve, I love who he is and whose he is! That is what really attracted me to him. And still does! Everybody loves magic moments and everybody loves Steve! The magic moments began to matter for me when I dedicated my life to the Lord in 1990 and became involved in the children's ministry. Wanting to be the best I could be for the Lord, I put God first in everything I did. I loved the children and their laughter and wanted to give them Jesus. I wanted to learn more so I could teach more. I taught and I learned from teaching.
Interviewer: You and Steve studied together.
- Marlyn: We do now. At first he was my teacher. I attended a creative ministry class that Steve was hosting. Prior to the class my church was involved in evangelism, wanting to reach out to the communities. One of the things they did was start a Clown Ministry. I became involved and loved it. I also heard about a class that this children's evangelist was teaching on how to share the Gospel with illusions and balloons. So I thought clowns, children, balloons, ministry, illusions. What a great mix! So I took the class.... fell in love with the teacher........ and married him!
- Steve: What can I say; the clowning started and magic happened. When I saw that she was a committed Christian who loved ministry, and took fun seriously! I didn't want to get ahead of myself, but by all accounts it was a match made in heaven. She was the one for me.
- Marlyn: Our relationship grew, our ministries grew.
- Steve: Everything grew, our faith walk, our family, our friends, and our business. We married in 2002 and Extreme Family Entertainment Ministries happened. The Lord started bringing special people with unique talents into our lives and we had to do something with them. Not only did the Lord bless us with an awesome ministry he also gave us a beautiful business geared towards families and children.
- Marlyn: I was amazed. It wasn't like we ran an add in the paper "seeking Christian entertainers, you have to love kids, be family friendly, talented, and totally sold out to Jesus" It's like our phone was ringing, people calling to schedule events. Once we were booked, then what were we to do? Then all of a sudden these unique people were put in our path with gifts, talents, personality, and a love for children. Sharing with us the deep desire to make a difference in the kingdom and the world! Now that stirred a real excitement in us! They wanted to learn more. We wanted to learn. They were from different areas, different churches, different kinds of ministry, but of the same heart and vision. Like our beautiful Sunshine the Clown, The Amazing Rob, Glory the Clown, Professor Tony, Mr. Mac And Mikey, Ms Star Dar the Story Teller, Holly Lu the Clown, Tilly the Clown, Glitter Bug the Clown and others. Our dear friend Patty Sparks contributing her creative ideas, administrative skills, love, prayer, and support . Our very own children joining in at times, clowning around, making balloons , being supportive . And the most recent, the gifted and talented Mr David Breth the Magican. Knowing, working and truly loving these people has truly blessed our life! The word says "He'll give us the desire of our heart" and "Iron sharpens iron" We are really seeing it and living it. Being part of this certainly is an adventure! I give God all the glory!
Interviewer: And being the entrepreneurs that you both are you ran with it.
- Marlyn: We have also been privileged to become the Evangelism/Outreach Pastors at our church, Connection Community Church in Edgewood Maryland (www.connectioncommunitychurch.com). With the encouragement of our children's pastors and friends Frank and Debbie Wilhelm we developed an exciting in house Sunday school and Side-Walk Sunday Schools in area communities, World Missions, American Rescue Workers, and Blanket the City . Many other doors have opened outside our church doing Kid's Crusades, Church Services, and special events of all types in almost every denomination.
Interviewer: Now joined together, as a dynamic ministering team captivating, entertaining and teaching everywhere with award winning balloon creations, illusions, clowning, puppets, characters, props and more. Your marriage has been a blast and blast off.
- Marlyn: Just trying to speak the universal language of love, laughter and living right. You know, Love God First, Learn His Word, Lead Others to Jesus, Live Right Everyday. Enjoying loving my family, friends and life, sharing salvation, watching how God uses Steve's balloon creations and unique talents unfold before my very eyes, always amazes me and others! My God is truly amazing!
Interviewer: Steve, what is your favorite balloon creation?
- Steve: Well, it's hard to say. I like whatever works best at getting the message across. I love the children's reactions to the props like the Fiery Furnace I'm still intrigued with the 9 1/2 foot GOLIATH.
Interviewer: GOLIATH. I know the story of David and Goliath. Tell me about Goliath, the balloon giant. How did that come about?
- Steve: I was performing at a three day crusade in a church that I have ministered in many times. I had some new things to perform, but I wanted something else something big.
- I was at a church camp in the morning and had a three hour drive to my next event. When I arrived I still had a few hours before show time. I was in a restaurant eating a Crab cake (this was on Maryland's eastern shore, you can't get better crab meat anywhere) and the idea came to me. My program was going to be on the whole armor of God and I thought I could tie all this together. So I returned to my van and started building my first Goliath. I was having such a good time I was laughing and making noises that I thought a giant like Goliath would make. I finished it and the program went great. That Goliath was only about 8 feet tall, but I kept improving him and now it' s a full 9 1/2 feet tall.
- Marlyn: Steve is first and foremost a preacher. The word of God is the very foundation of everything we do, whether it be object lessons, illustrations our labor is all for the glory of God.
Interviewer: You two have certainly done a tremendous amount of creative ministry work.
- Marlyn: It still amazes me. Steve has the ability to see a trick and a Gospel message routine comes forth using it.
- Steve: Our love for the gospel, the children, their parents, family, friends, and all creation keeps a fire burning in us to do God's good pleasure. There is nothing more satisfying than to know you have encouraged someone to grow and to love Jesus for a lifetime.
- Marlyn: First impressions of God and the local church through ministry are vital to life and life eternal and we have dedicated our lives to it.
- Steve: We do anything we can think of to illustrate the Gospel and make it come alive. We do illusions, balloons, puppets, juggling, ventriloquism, special props such as the Fiery Furnace.
- Marlyn: We even have a program we do with bubbles. We can put a child inside a giant soap bubble.
Interviewer: You are in such demand and of such a high profile, what's next?
- Steve: We started doing sidewalk Sunday schools in several locations with great success. While we were in New York we got a chance to show them some of the things we were doing and they asked me to teach their staff balloons. In January 2006, I went with Bill Wilson the Leader and Founder of Metro Ministries along with some of his staff to the Dominican Republic to look into the possibility of Metro doing some work in the Dominican Republic. We go there every year to evangelize and help the Castrillon family (They live there and are building Churches, medical clinics, developing educational programs Gospel style.) (Rev. Uriel & Becky Castrillon www.DRMISSION.net) We did a couple of children's programs, and after seeing the response from the children and adults Bill Wilson asked if I would come to New York and teach once each semester. This is a great honor for me. David Castrillon from the Dominican Republic who is thirteen is one of my students. I always take him some magic tricks when I see him and he uses many of these tricks in ministry there.
Interviewer: Then you are very active in missions work.
- Marlyn: Yes, we love missions work. We go with Tom and Charlotte Canapp of Sunshine Ministries. Our children have accompanied us on several trips to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It's very different in other countries many have never seen anything like this. We go into towns, set up in the middle of a street, walk around and invite people to come and the whole town shows up. When we invite people to accept Jesus Christ the response in over 90%!
- Steve: When we go to Haiti the illusions really cause a stir. I thought it might not be a good idea doing illusions there, they really believe that it is magic. Pastor Luke is the Minister we support there. He has about 43 churches around Haiti. I asked if I should do something else beside magic, but he said NO this is good in Haiti, it shows them that witchcraft is not real. I show them how I do some of the tricks. Many people believe in voodoo and witchcraft and many are deceived by witchdoctors in Haiti.
Interviewer: Now, in listening to what you have shared am I to understand that you teach others your knowledge, skills and style of ministry?
- Steve: Absolutely. I love to teach. I have taught several conferences for many different denominations. One of the ministries that had the greatest effect on our teaching is Metro Ministries in Brooklyn New York, which has the largest Sunday school in America. (www.metroministries.com) They minister to over 20,000 kids every week! We visited there and went through their Brooklyn Boot Camp program. After we got home we modeled our Sunday school after theirs and our Sunday school almost tripled.
Interviewer: Where do you go from here?
- Steve & Marlyn: We want to keep pushing forward looking for and learning new and exciting ways to preach Gods word, and to reach as many people with the Good New in the most effective way that we can. A Godly man's life is exciting, for fun and laughter are always in his heart.
- The Extreme Balloon Man and M&M the Clown have done local ministry, out of state, foreign missions ministry work and continue to broaden their horizons. The have a demo DVD that is available and everywhere it is reaching ministries are being effected, their ministry expanding. They love to do church services, kid's crusades, special events, and lectures everywhere they can. Once churches and organizations learn how effective creative ministries are and all that they offer they marvel.
- Steve: In today's world with the media, video games, amusement parks, etc., we have to work hard to present a program that keeps children's attention and brings the word alive. So we must do the best job we can. The Gospel is worth it.
I Cor. 9:22: "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some."