Listen: Marty Beckett chats to Hope 103.2 journalist Clare Bruce.
One of the 10 housemates on the SBS TV series Christians Like Us was Marty Beckett (above) – a Pentecostal church pastor at The Rock church in Penrith, and head of Christ Mission Possible – a welfare ministry to the homeless.
In the CLU house, Marty roomed with Steve Smith, the housemate who revealed he had been a victim of sexual abuse in the Anglican church as a child and teenager. Marty spoke to Hope 103.2 about his experience on the show.
Marty’s Experience on Christians Like Us
Clare: How do you feel now that the show has finally been screened on TV – is it a weight off your shoulders?
Marty: It is. Being that we’re involved in the social [welfare] sector and we partner with government organisations, it was a bit of a tense moment, wondering how they were going to put us across. Although we live in a country with free speech, it’s not really free, it comes at cost. So we were a bit anxious but it actually came across pretty well.
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C: Why did you agree to go on the show?
M: Honestly, I didn’t until the last week or two, right at the last [minute]…mainly because of the fact that I run a welfare [organisation] and I know how unforgiving it can be out there when you have a differing view from society.
I went on there primarily because, in talking to one of the producers, developers of the show, we actually had a great dialogue, and I could see what I was saying getting through to her. And I thought, “If what I’m saying can translate to her, who was a lovely lady but an unbeliever, ‘unchurched’…maybe it can get through to others.”
C: On Episode One we see you wondering if you’d be the most fundamental Christian in the house – did that turn out to be true?
M: I think there were three of us – myself, Steve (Chong) and Assumpta, I think we all held firm fundamental beliefs. I think I was definitely one of the most outspoken followed very closely with Assumpta. Steve was probably a little bit more reserved but still shared exactly the same views.
C: Did you feel like the show portrayed you and others fairly?
M: I think the show did. I was very outspoken, probably one of the more vocal and they could’ve used a lot of the material and twisted and used it out of context, but they didn’t which I was pleasantly surprised with. So I think they did a great job. I think I came across OK, I don’t think they tried to go after me.
Yesterday I was having a chat on the phone to Tiffany who was the Anglican priest, and said, my biggest issues are how it’s been portrayed by certain individuals after the show – that we didn’t see Jesus in the house, that there were certain people in the room that would’ve made, say, Carol, feel uncomfortable. [These are] things that didn’t happen in the house. We were really, I felt, most of us, a good united front.
C: We saw housemates attending one your homeless outreaches, and Steve [Smith] talking about how seeing this began to restore his faith in humanity. What was it like to have your fellow housemates along to see your ministry?
M: It was wonderful. It was one of the highlights for me, to be able to bring them out on the street and do that. One of the things I was excited by was Steve because he had had major let-downs in the church, major atrocities happen to him, and he was in tears a number of times. When we got back to the house, he said, ‘mate you’re a bloody awesome guy, this is what the church should do’.
“When we got back to the house, he said, ‘mate you’re a bloody awesome guy, this is what the church should do’. “
Unfortunately I didn’t see that translate at the end of the show which I feel really sad about. In interviews and commentary from Steve, I haven’t heard him say, ‘I did see Jesus, I saw it in what Marty’s doing, I saw it in what this person’s doing’. Because there were moments in the house, where we saw Jesus, where we saw what it’s really about.
C: There was some intense discussion on lots of topics – abortion, women in ministry, abuse in the church, homosexuality – you made it clear you have a very traditional view on that – and at the same time Chris, one of the housemates, identifies as both gay and a Christian, and he shared his very personal story of his struggle. Did you feel like you always smoothed things over with your fellow housemates, or were the discussions a bit too heated at times?
M: I think there are always topics that will get peoples’ emotions going and some get more emotional than others. One thing I found was, once we really brought [the emotion] down, we actually didn’t differ on much. We all agree on most of it, there’s just those real emotional hot-buttons that people love to press.
On the last day we all sat around and talked and even Chris said how he just had a real empathy for us. He started to have a heart for us. There’s a moment that isn’t in the show, where I went and saw Chris just in private where he was hanging out with Tiff – and I gave him a hug and said ‘Mate, I’ve told you in public and I’ll tell you again, I really love you man, and I’d take a bullet for you, I just don’t agree on certain things. But don’t mistake that for not loving you’. And he agreed and we had a genuine moment. But you don’t see that on camera.
C: You brought your guitar along and we see a few moments of worship. In the second episode we see you and Chris singing Lion and the Lamb. Did you get a greater sense of the unity in Jesus despite our differences, in those worship moments?
M: Yeah. That was just absolutely unplanned. The cameras weren’t around, I just pulled the guitar out in the lounge area and thought ‘I’ll have a moment of worship just on my own’, Chris came down the stairs and said ‘Mate, do you know this song?’, and I went ‘Yeah’. We started playing it, we sang it together, and there was a genuine moment of just worship.
“There was no ‘gay/straight’ at that moment, it was just two worshippers. And that’s why I love worship.”
Next thing you open your eyes and there’s the cameras all around you. But it was a genuine moment. And we both complimented each other and said ‘Your vocals are great’, and there was no ‘gay/straight’ at that moment, it was just two worshippers. And that’s why I love worship, because it just really gets rid of all the garbage and we’re just human beings that are there. And it was just a real beautiful, authentic moment.
C: Did you find yourself forming friendships that you would’ve never expected on the show?
M: Yeah. I do have a real love for Carol [A Uniting Church elder who spoke of performing abortions in her work as a gynaecologist-obstetrician]. And anyone who knows me and my distaste for abortion, they would go, ‘Wow, how did you do that?’. And you know what, I can do that, because years ago I decided that it’s actually the good in people, even when they’re doing things that I consider bad, they’re actually motivated by good. They’re not evil. So when I saw Carol and heard her story, we’d already formed a friendship and relationship, so I have a real love for her. I love Tiff, we get on really really well. Steve [Chong] and Assumpta, they became really good friends. And Steve [Smith] was my room-mate. So we had a lot of personal chats and I really have a lot of time for Steve and a real desire to just see him live life to the full. So he’s a good mate as well.
C: Do you think you’ll keep those friendships?
M: I hope so. I think even now after the show with some of the discussions we’re having, we’re really peeling back other layers that [show] that we’re really actually not that different, and we actually have a lot in common.