Dr. Chris Whaley has overcome a few obstacles in his extraordinary life. He was a professional wrestler for ten years, and then became a minister in the Baptist church. He’s also the author of two books, with a third due for release in 2022. In this interview, which was recorded live on Facebook, Dr. Chris talks about some of the challenging events in his life which he incorporated into his novel, “The Masked Saint.”
On this episode of the Live. Love. Engage. podcast:
- Where Dr. Chris got the idea for his book, The Masked Saint
- How he became a professional wrestler AND a pastor
- How his book became an award-winning film
- One of his biggest mistakes and how he overcame it
- What’s been the highlight of his life
- Join the Live. Love. Engage. Community
- Intuitive Business Coaching
- The Live. Love. Engage. Book
- Support the Podcast with BuyMeACoffee.com
Gloria Grace Rand 0:03
Welcome to Live Love, engage the podcast where we share practical advice from a spiritual perspective on how to create a life and business with more impact, influence and income. I’m your host, Gloria Grace ran the insightful copywriter and founder of the love method. My mission is to help you stop doubting yourself. So you can live fully love deeply and engage authentically.
Hello, namaste and welcome. Sorry, didn’t mean to do that quite so abruptly. I am Gloria Grace Rand, and I am delighted to be with you today for a live version of our podcast. So I am streaming live on Facebook. But for those of you who are listening and watching on YouTube, later on, I’m happy to be here and just understand that, you know, we’re doing doing some new things here on the podcast and, and shaking things up mostly because I want to be able to bring you some amazing guests and, and I’ve got such a wonderful backlog of people, I wanted to give people a chance to be able to get on to the show more in a more timely fashion. So that’s what we’re doing today. So I am going to be bringing up to the show here in a second. Our illustrious guest today. And you’re gonna want to definitely stick around for this edition of live live engage, because I’ve got an amazing gentleman here who has lived several lives already. So I’m gonna welcome to Live Love engage right now, Dr. Chris Whaley. So welcome Dr. Chris.
Dr. Chris Whaley 1:54
Aw Miss Gloria, it is such a pleasure to be on your show. And you know, I feel honored because the other one, I think you’re booking into the spring of 2022. So to get on this early, I just feel really blessed. And thank you so much for having me.
Gloria Grace Rand 2:11
Well, I am delighted to have you as well. And let me tell you just a little bit about this gentleman, because like I said, he has done some amazing things in his career. And yeah, I’m just let’s just get right to it. So first of all, this this kindly looking man used to be a professional wrestler back in the late ’70s and ’80s. And then he decided to change careers. And what do you think he decided to be? Well, he decided to become a minister. So he went to attended the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, graduated from there. And he’s been a pastor at various churches since that time. And if that’s not enough, he’s, you know, in his spare time, which I’m sure he has, just a little bit of, he’s also the author of two books. One is called The Masked Saint. And the other is called Harold’s Heavenly Christmas. And then he’s got a third book coming out in 2022 entitled, Mr. President, and this is to show you what a really someone with a good heart and soul. His he has been married to his high school sweetheart for 46 years. He’s got two married daughters and six grandchildren. So clearly, he practices what he preaches, I suspect, but I really wanted to start our show off focusing on focusing on your book because you were gracious enough to send me a copy of it. And I just finished reading it yesterday, the day before. And it was a delightful book, The Masked Saint. And it’s now a couple things here. Number one, it’s a book sort of loosely based on your life, it’s about a wrestler who then becomes a pastor, and then it also got turned into a movie. So I’m gonna ask you about that later, too. But first off, I wanted to just ask you, I guess, where did the idea or what prompted you to really be able to? Why did you decide to actually write a book like this?
Dr. Chris Whaley 4:36
You know, Miss Gloria I had. I’ve just been so disappointed with a lot of the stuff that they’re putting on TV these days, and one of my favorite people on TV was Michael Landon, Michael Landon put some great moral clean, good stuff on TV. Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven. And I just I thought, well, somebody needs to pick up the mantle because Michael Landon had passed away. And I thought he needs a good story for that. And so I thought of all the things that happened to me in my past. And, and I have a lot of good stories that have good endings. And I thought, you know, if I can write this, perhaps it could be made into a TV series. And and so the book was easy to write for me, because every chapter is based upon something that actually happened in my life. And so I, you know, I wrote the first chapter, I showed it to my wife, and she smiled, and she said, keep going, that’s great. So I just, so I just kept going and hoping that once it was finished, and if I could get it published, that someone might be interested in making it into a TV series, and then was blown out of the water when nobody wanted to talk to me about TV series, but I had several movie producers that talked to me about making it into a movie.
Gloria Grace Rand 6:11
Wow, that’s amazing. Now, one of the things I should let our people know who have not read the book is it’s especially sort of timely in this era of movies where we’ve got the Marvel Universe all the superheroes out there. Well, this the wrestker turned Pastor, this character, actually sort of acts like a superhero in a way because he is kind of like Batman in a way because he’s out there writing the wrongs of the injustices of people that he sees. And that’s sort of where this masked Saint comes from. So can you tell tell us a little bit about that?
Dr. Chris Whaley 6:52
Absolutely, this is the first thing that happened. When I went to my first church had a precious young lady who would drop her children off at our children’s program, she was usually the last person to walk into the sanctuary for the morning service, and then she was usually the first one to leave, and she would leave very quickly and go get her children and leave. So I did not have the opportunity to get to know her. And then one particular Sunday, she showed up with sunglasses on. And when the service was over, I always stood at the front and shook hands with people as they were leaving. And on this particular day, she was the last person to leave. And when she came up to me, she reached out and she took my hand with both of her hands, and she had her head down, and I could see tears rolling down underneath her glasses. And I simply reached over and picked her glasses up and she had two black eyes. And when I saw that, it just it just enraged me. I, any man that would hit a woman is a complete dirtbag. And any man that would hit the mother of his children, I just have no sympathy for anybody like that. And so I, I told her, I said, I’m going to go see your husband, and she got upset, and you know, he will hurt you. And I said I’m not worried about it. And so I, I went to his house, and I invited him out. And I said you know, I came by just to see how you would do against someone who was able to fight back and he got belligerent with me, which was really good because I had the opportunity to dance him around his front yard, and he never hit his wife again. And that was, that was a great thing. So that was actually the beginning of you know, the masked saint. And I could seem to have story after story after story of those incidents. Matter of fact, I’m going to do a Masked Saint Twotoo. And I’ve still got some more stories. So I’ll add those on there. But of course that was when I was a lot younger too.
Gloria Grace Rand 9:00
Well, but it’s it was it was a really great read and I loved it was one I just want to kind of keep going so you did a very good job with it. One One other thing I want to ask you about there is one of the characters in there is Miss Edna, who offers you a lot of really great advice. So did is that based off of someone like that that you had in your life as well?
Dr. Chris Whaley 9:22
Absolutely. She was from my childhood, and she was just the most precious precious lady. She was just full of wisdom. Usually when I was a little boy and I got home from school every day and I changed my clothes, I would beat a path over to their house. I walked down their long driveway and go up to… in those days we didn’t have air conditioning, and she had the chair sitting in the carport and usually we got a nice breeze and we would sit out there on the carport and talk and she was just a wonderful, wonderful godly lady and just about every chapter of my book has a lesson that I learned from her. And in the movie, they change it a lot because they bring her up to real time in the movie. And but Diane Carroll plays Miss Edna, in the movie, and she did a she did a wonderful job. She really did.
Gloria Grace Rand 10:25
That’s, that’s wonderful. And that was the thing I noticed too. And I was like, looking at your website, and it was like, wow, you’ve got you know, someone really, you know, famous, someone I grew up watching, I think she was at she played I think she played Julia. She was, yeah, back in the 60s. I remember seeing that she was played a nurse on television. And so very impressive. So how, how did you? How did you get in touch? I mean, how did producers, you know, find your book? And how did that whole movie come about? It’s a big dream of a lot of authors,
Dr. Chris Whaley 11:00
right. Actually started here in Orlando. There’s a movie producer that lives here in Orlando. So kids actually went to school at the school where my sister worked. And when my book came out, she gave a copy to his wife, who she was friends with. And the wife took it home. This is the guy that was the executive, executive producer for the first three blockbuster, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies. He did those. He did the movie, a Stroke of Genius, the Bobby Jones story that had starred Jim Caviezel. And then he did a faith based movie called Letters to God. And he started going into faith based. And so he had me come to his office in downtown Orlando actually kept me on the hook for about a year and changed his mind. But during that time, I met other people in the movie business. And I had a producer from Toronto, Canada that flew down and met me at Disney World. And he was very interested in making the book into a movie. He talked to me for a while I didn’t hear from him. And then in February of 2013, I’m driving to the gym to work out and he called me and he said, Are you sitting down and I said, matter of fact, I am, I’m driving. He said, Okay. He said, We’re gonna make your book and do a movie. And I was just flabbergasted. I couldn’t I couldn’t believe it. And they started immediately on a script. Script was finished in October of 2013. And they started filming the movie on November the fourth of 2013. And it was just amazing how how quickly things started to move after that.
Gloria Grace Rand 12:57
Wow. Well, that is quite the story for sure. And it’s, it’s a testament to I think when something is meant to be that God sort of connects you with the right people to make things happen. And so there was a reason that that story needed to get out there.
Dr. Chris Whaley 13:19
Yeah. Yeah. God, God showed up and showed off.
Gloria Grace Rand 13:24
Absolutely, absolutely. Now, let’s talk a little bit about, your your life. I mean, how did you manage to, you know, what was it that prompted you to, ychange from being a wrestler to then deciding to, you know, I guess obviously, you must have gotten a call from, from God, as they say, but how, how did that happen? And was there you know, some challenges that came along the way with that? because that’s what it’s a radical, radical change that you’re making in your life.
Dr. Chris Whaley 13:59
Right? Wrestling was a dream. When I was growing up, I was I was the sickly child, I was in and out of the hospital, mostly with pneumonia. In the fourth grade, I had polio, and viral encephalitis, all at the same time. I was in the hospital, in Winter Haven Hospital for three months. And I just could not get well and I had a wonderful godly doctor. Matter of fact, I mentioned him in my book, Dr. Raymond A. LaRue, that was his name in Winter Haven. His kids are, I think most of his kids are doctors now and I talked to his son since then, but he refused to let me give up. He just encouraged me and challenge me and he, they finally found out why I continued to get sick, it was my immune system was not building up and it was due to my allergies. I found out that I had 200 allergies and so they started me on medication for the allergies and I took that up until I was a junior in college and But he’s the guy that got me going to the gym. And so I started going to the gym and working out and my body started to grow. And while I was growing up, I was just a big wrestling fanatic of you know, when you’re in a hospital that much you get your days and nights mixed up. And the only thing on late at night was professional wrestling. And so I got hooked into watching all of those great wrestlers from that generation, Eddie Graham, Red Bastein, the great Malenko, Johnny Valentine, and all of those guys. And so I was in great shape. My wife and I graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic. We were back in Central Florida. My wife was a high school math teacher. And so she’s working at her alma mater. And I was waiting to be called to a church as a youth pastor. Because you know, when you’re 23 years old, there’s not a lot of churches that want you as its pastor. So I was trying to get some experience with the youth pastor. And I was reading the Tampa Tribune one day, and it said, there was an ad, a big ad it said, wanted professional wrestlers, I got so excited, I jumped up, I took it over to my wife, and I said, Look at this, and she was grading she was grading papers and she looked up and looked at it and rolled her eyes and kept grading papers. And so I got a bag together. And I drove over to Tampa and I walked in and in this gym, and there was the great Malenko, who I had watched growing up. And so I was trained by one of the best, the great Malenko, he trained a bunch of guys that are were WWE stars. And he was just the best. And so I, I was hooked from the moment that I walked in. And so I got the opportunity to wrestle, from 1978 to 1988. That was my dream. But my calling was to the ministry, and I knew that that dream was going to be short lived. And so when I was 34, I graduated from Southwestern seminary, and I retired from professional wrestling. And then I went to my first church. It was a big change from story you asked about it was a big change. I didn’t get stressed out when I was wrestling, because you get to work your stress out, you get in the ring with 300 pound men and you work your stress out. But as a pastor, you’re just, you’re just full of stress and constantly overcoming obstacles, you know, you have a faith based budget. My mentor used to say people in churches showed their discontent for what’s going on with their attendance and with their giving. And so anytime you see those two go down, you better get nervous. And so on Mondays, you were always nervous, you know, looking at what the offering was, and looking what the attendance was, and all that. So that stress continued for 30 years from story.
Gloria Grace Rand 18:05
Oh, my goodness. So how did you manage that? Because you know, that’s something that a lot of people have to deal with a lot of business owners deal with stress a lot of pretty much anybody. And certainly over the last year and a half a lot of people have been dealing with this added stress of the pandemic. So what did you do, to be able to help you to manage your, you know, the day to day working of being a pastor?
Dr. Chris Whaley 18:29
You know, one of the great things about being pastor is you meet other pastors, and who does a pastor talk to? You talk to other pastors. And so I was just very blessed to have some of the greatest pastors as friends. And so, you know, there was always that lunch during the week with one of those guys just to say, Hey, this is what I’m going through, you know, have you gone through something like this? What advice do you have for me? So I was just extremely blessed to have some of the best guys that God has called into the ministry, to be able to sit down and and gather some Godly wisdom from those great men of God. So that was the best help for me with stress.
Gloria Grace Rand 19:19
That’s good. Is there something, you know, because as you said, it’s when you’re being a pastor, you’re having to be concerned about attendance, and of course, the collection, is there anything that you looking back now, you know, like, what was maybe something that was like, you know, a mistake, possibly that you made or something that you, you know, if you could have had a do over a pension that you would that that you wished you could have handled maybe differently?
Dr. Chris Whaley 19:53
You know, unfortunately, there are too many of them. There really are. But I think the king of all mistakes was the one that I made. And it’s in my book, I think the chapter is called The mistake. But I was looking forward. So looking forward to going down to South Florida to a evangelism conference. And I was going with one of my best friends that I went to seminary with he and his wife, and they had two boys. We had two girls, his wife was a teacher, my wife was a teacher. And we were both pastors and we were actually born within three days of each other. So we became great, great friends. And so we were going to this evangelism conference together. And I had to stay behind because I had a funeral to do. And my girls were so disappointed. And so I said, you know, I asked my friend, can my girls ride with you, and they can go ahead and get checked into the hotel, and then I’ll come down immediately after the funeral. And so that worked out. I left after the funeral, I was on my way to South Florida, and I stopped at a Service Plaza on the turnpike. And I was really stressed. And when I walked in, walking up to the Service Plaza, there were three hoods. That’s all I could call them that were just being totally obnoxious and really, you know, mistreating people. And then I’m telling myself to calm down, calm down, and, and then I went inside, and I ordered some food, or, and I’m waiting in line to do something, and those guys come back. And so I finally I just couldn’t stand it anymore. And I said, you know, why don’t you guys quit acting like jerks, and then they surrounded me, and I’ve got, you know, one in front, one on each side. And if you’ve ever seen that movie, Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr, whenever he was about to fight, he, he would picture in his mind what he was going to do. That’s why I love that movie, because that’s exactly what you have to do. And I’m saying, What am I going to do? And I would say, Well, this guy is going to be talking in an extremely high voice, this guy is gonna have a busted nose, this guy is gonna walk with a limp, and, and then all of a sudden, boom, it just happens. And then all of a sudden, you know, I’m in a room, handcuffed. And I’m thinking about being on the six o’clock news might even make national news. How am I going to explain this to my church? And then more than that, how am I going to explain this to my wife? And, and then, you know, he, the state trooper comes in and says, Stand up, and I stood up, and he takes the cuffs off and says, you’re free to go. And I’m like, what? And he said, he said, Yeah, he said, those guys are nowhere to be found. And he said, nobody’s going to press charges, so you’re free to go. And so, you know, I came that close to really losing it. And it was just a stupid, stupid thing to do. But you know, I, I made a lot of mistakes in my life. And that was one of them.
Gloria Grace Rand 23:03
Yeah. Well, you know, it’s just proof that you’re only human. And yeah, you did the best you can and thankfully, had a good outcome. So yeah, so that’s, that’s a relief. And I just want to let folks know that there have been occasional pauses. Unfortunately, my internet is not behaving itself as well as I would like it to. But I think we’ve gotten pretty much all of your, your answers have been okay, but so please be word bear with us. If that happens, again, I’m trying to think what else has been like some of the highlights of over any part of your career? What are some of the most favorite things the moments that stand out for you that you’re really grateful for?
Dr. Chris Whaley 23:52
Well, you know, I was very blessed in professional wrestling, I got to work against some of the very best in the business. I mean, how many people have the opportunity to wrestle the undertaker? You know, I wrestled the Undertaker, the Ultimate Warrior, the Freebirds I wrestled like three or four world heavyweight champions. And so you know, those were kind of the the highlights but you know, the opportunity to fulfill God’s calling on my life is some of the some of the lives that you have the opportunity to impact in the ministry of… Saturday., no, excuse me, Friday, I got a text, no, a message on Facebook from a young man who was in the very first church that I pastored, and he said, I’m here at a men’s group and they said, tell us about somebody who you know made the biggest impact on your life and, and I told them about you and about how you reached out to me and how you you were responsible for me coming to know Christ as my Savior and You know, I, I’m very blessed to get those kinds of messages from people. But the greatest highlight for me is seeing two daughters that that grew up. And, you know, in a pastor’s home. And they still, you know, go to church, because there’s so many pastor’s kids that just totally walk away from it. And so, you know, both my girls, they did so well in school, both my girls were valedictorians and they, they both married godly men. But, you know, the greatest thing that ever happened was to be able to see both of my girls come to, you know, a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and have the opportunity to baptize both my girls so that that’s right up there with it. And at the end, I have a wonderful woman who has stayed with me for 46 years of marriage, I started dating her when I was 16. And so, you know, we’ve been together since we were 16 years old, and we went to college together, we graduated together, and she has put up with 10 years of wrestling and 30 years of being a pastor. And so she’s going to have scars on her crown one day.
Gloria Grace Rand 26:23
Absolutely. You know, because you’ve had such a varied life and, and, and a blessed life and being able to fulfill your dreams. And, and and also be, you know, such a leader in in your community and being able to their people. What, what advice, would you for someone out there listening to this that is maybe, maybe either they’re struggling with, maybe they’ve got an idea that they want to do something, but maybe they’re not sure that they should go for it? Or, you know, what, what would you have to say to someone like that,
Dr. Chris Whaley 27:07
I would say that I have been in the same position that that you’re in right now. You know, I one of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in Jeremiah 18, one through six where God told Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house, and he would teach him a great lesson. And he saw the potter working with clay on the wheel, the wheel was going around and around, and he was making that that vessel. And when he got through with it, it was just filled with flaws. And the Word says that it was marred in the hand of the potter. And so what he did was he squished that clay back together. And he put the same piece of clay back on the wheel. And he made that same piece of clay with all of its flaws into a new vessel. And then God said, Cannot I do the same with you as the Potter is done with the clay or is the clay is in the hands of the potter, so are you in my hand. And so that that was my story, when I had finished with things, I really had messed up and made a lot of mistakes. But God, you know, squish me back together, put me back on the wheel and made me into a new vessel. So if you attempted entrepreneurial things, and they have failed, you know, you continue working, you don’t give up, you just keep getting back on the wheel, even with the flaws and continue to allow God to make you into a new vessel. You know, I love that story about you know, the guys that invented the light bulb. Thomas Edison said he failed 1000 times. He said, I didn’t fail 1000 times I just found 1000 ways not to make a light bulb, you know, right. So it is it is called never ever, ever, ever give up? Never.
Gloria Grace Rand 29:01
Absolutely. Very good words of advice. Um, is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that you really that I should have asked you that you’d like to leave our listeners with today?
Dr. Chris Whaley 29:16
That’s a great job. I love listening to your podcast because you’re such a great interviewer. But no, you know, I would say that one of the highlights for me. I wrestled a guy named Rowdy Roddy Piper, like 30 years before 2013 I don’t know what date that would make it but you know, it had been a long time since I’ve worked against him and then his career just took off, you know, he was just internationally known. He had Piper’s pit on the WWF and and then if you IMDB him, you see all of these things that he he did movies that he was in, TV programs, I mean, he has a cult following, and that movie, “They Live.” And so when they were telling me all of the people that were going to be in the movie, The Masked Saint course I was, I was just thrilled with Diane Carroll. I mean, Diane Carroll had the very first program for an African American woman. And it had some great Canadian actors in there who are really, really well known. But then when I saw who was going to play the promoter, that it was, you know, Rowdy Roddy Piper, I just, I was just so thrilled, because he was always one of my heroes. Roddy Piper loved his family. If you ever YouTube him and see any of his matches, you’ll notice that he has his wedding ring on, he never took his wedding ring off. He, because he loved his wife, and he loved his family. And so, you know, having the opportunity to see, you know, your book made into a movie, and it was an award winning movie, it won best picture in 2015, International Christian Film Festival. And so that’s something that’s gonna live on after me. I mean, when I’m, when I have graduated to heaven, that movie’s still going to be around, it’s still going to be shown. And so that’s just an amazing thing that, you know, years from now, somebody’s going to look and see who is the old guy at the end there. Oh, that was the original Masked Saint. Yeah. That’s that’s kind of neat.
Gloria Grace Rand 31:42
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that’s a that’s a lot to be proud of. And, and it’s, I think, again, a good lesson for us all is that, you know, you’re never too old. You’re never too young to go for your dreams. Just just if you’ve got an idea for something, you know, figure out a way to do it, and you can make it happen.
Dr. Chris Whaley 32:04
Absolutely, never give up.
Gloria Grace Rand 32:07
Yeah. Well, I appreciate you being here today. And if someone listening to this and are watching it, I want to learn more about you and all of the wonderful things you’ve done in your life. What’s the best place for people to get in touch with you?
Dr. Chris Whaley 32:26
One of the best ways of course, I’m on Facebook. I sometimes I have 5000 friends and you can’t friend me. But you know, you have people that don’t like something you say and they unfriend you. So I’ve usually, you know, if you want to friend me on Facebook, you can do that. But if you go to my website, themaskedsaint.com. And if you if you want one of the books, which I will autograph for you. If you mention Miss Gloria’s wonderful show, I will include a signed eight by 10. And I’ll throw that in for free. And just as a thank you for connecting with me through this wonderful show.
Gloria Grace Rand 33:09
All right, well, excellent. Well, I hope that you will take advantage of that. And of course, I’ll have that information in our show notes when the podcast, I put this out on to all the other podcast platforms that it’s going to go out to once we’re finished recording it here on Facebook today. So I really want to again, thank you for spending some time with us. And looking forward to your next book. It sounds like it’s gonna be gonna be a real doozy, as my mom might say. So I’m looking forward to that. And and I guess you’re also talking about maybe doing a sequel to the Masked Saint, is that true?
Dr. Chris Whaley 33:48
Yeah, well, I’ve got a I’ve got some other things in the fire. But that definitely on the backburner, and I want to do that. And, and I just want to say to everybody listening, that you need something you need to do, you need to tell a friend, tell several friends about Miss Gloria’s show and get them to subscribe. And because they’re not going to hear the great things that she has on anything else that they’re listening to. So they need to subscribe to her show. And I hope that they do that.
Gloria Grace Rand 34:20
Oh, well. Thank you very much. I appreciate that. And for that, you can come back anytime. So that type of endorsement. But thank you so much for being here. And thank you. Thank all of you today for watching. And yes, I do hope that you subscribe on any of the podcast platforms that are out there for sure. And yeah, I think that’s going to do it for me today. Thank you so much for watching and listening. On next time. I encourage you to go out today and live fully love deeply and engage authentically