‘From Tabloid to Truth,’ an extraordinary book by ANS Founder, Dan Wooding FeaturedWritten by
By Brian Nixon
COSTA MESA, CA (ANS) -- I first saw international journalist, Dan Wooding, from afar. He was standing on the stage of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, introducing legendary keyboard player Rick Wakeman at a benefit concert for ASSIST during Mr. Wakeman's New Gospel's concert tour in Southern California.
At right, Rick Wakeman playing keyboards for the New Gospels concert
It was an amazing performance of this beautiful oratorio written by Rick Wakeman about the Life of Christ, and even included on stage his talented son, Adam Wakeman, and also world-famous tenor, Ramon Remedios who, before joining the Dutch cast of the Phantom of the Opera, performed the same part in the West End production of this musical in London.
Rick and Dan had been friends for many years and Dan wrote Wakeman's biography, which carried a foreword by Sir Elton John. (The book has since been re-released and updated with the title of Caped Crusader Rick Wakeman in the 1970s, which can be obtained at www.amazon.com.)
The rock group I was in, Widow's Mite, had just finished signing a record contract with Wakeman's Hope Records the day before in Orange County. The year was 1995.
To tell you the truth, I knew little of Mr. Wooding at that time. A mutual friend of ours would usually ramble something like, "You know, that Dan Wooding guy has lived quite a life, meeting some of the most colorful people around." I would nod and think, "Maybe one day I will meet him."
My first impressions of Dan were the obvious: he had a British accent, was informed, and up on stage (so he must be 'someone').
Fast forward 10 years. I was living in Southern California, working for Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (CCCM) as a radio host and educator. To help meet a need of a church in San Diego county, I took a leave of absence from the church and headed down the road, leaving the radio job open a couple of days a week for someone to fill. Well, lo and behold, my then co-host Brian Brodersen, asked Dan Wooding to take over my role on Pastor's Perspective, a popular daily call-in show for people asking questions about the Bible.
Over the course of the year, I listened to the program and got to know Dan's humor, experience, and insights into a variety of cultural, political, and down-right-weird topics-all on the radio.
So when the time came for me to head back to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, in January 2007, I thought to myself that I would like to get to know this elusive chap whom I have seen and heard from afar, but have never really met.
So, to my surprise, as I walked into my office one day, I saw a book called, From Tabloid to Truth, lying on a stack of other books. I picked it up and realized it was by Dan Wooding, and to my greater surprise, it was his autobiography. I jumped in to read it, eating up every morsel from his extraordinary story. But more importantly, I decide to contact Mr. Wooding.
We met for the first time in my office, talking ideas about the radio, books, and life. I thought to myself, "I really like this guy, even though he's a little off kilter." He had story after story to recount about just about everything: Africa, England, Russia, Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, you name it, and he had a story for it. "He's my kind of fellow," I thought.
I decided to set another meeting. And the rest, I guess, is history. Our friendship has grown, for which I am greatly appreciative. I am now a writer for his news service, and I've even joined the Board of ASSIST.
So what is it about Dan Wooding – who is now 74 and shows no signs of slowing down -- that is so engaging? Without spoiling his book (which you should read), I must confess that he has lived a full life, with ups and downs, and never a dull moment.
But ultimately, the title and subtitle of the book say it best, From Tabloid to Truth: The inspiring autobiography of Christian journalist Dan Wooding and his worldwide search for truth.
Dan's life can be summarized in the phrase, "search for truth," be it with truth seeking in his journalistic endeavors or his search for truth with God.
As I dug into the book, I discovered that Dan was born in Nigeria, West Africa, on December 19, 1940, to English missionary parents, Alf and Anne Wooding, both of whom came from Liverpool. (Dan reminds me that he is both African, English, and American. Quite a combination.)
After a series of setbacks, when his father, Alf Wooding, contracted malaria, dysentery and sleeping sickness, he was advised by a doctor to go home for treatment at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Liverpool. And so in 1942, as World War II was raging, the Wooding family boarded a ship at Lagos and joined a convoy that were being protected from the German U Boats, but still many were sunk and thousand died in the deadly waters Atlantic Ocean. The zigzagging journey took six-weeks, rather than the usual ten days. (You can read all about it Blind Faith, which Dan wrote with his then 93-year-old mother, Anne Wooding, and Pastor Chuck Smith provided the foreword.)
They eventually set up shop in Birmingham, an industrial city in the center of England, and continued to minister to the folks in that area of England. His father was the pastor of The Sparkbrook Mission for some 30 years.
The rest, you must read to believe. Dan goes off to Canada, comes home to England, meets his beautiful wife, Norma, they start Hill Farm, a ministry to drug addicts. After that, Dan becomes a journalist, first of all with The Christian, Billy Graham's London-based newspaper, and later with two of Great Britain's most infamous tabloids, the Sunday People and theSunday Mirror, which took him all over the UK (and the world) chasing the famous and infamous!
After spiritually hitting rock-bottom with the tabloids, Dan turns once again to the truth- Jesus Christ, and ends up re-thinking his station in life at a pub called, Stab-in-the Back, the "watering hole" for journalists from the Mirror Group of newspapers.
Later, after stints writing for Billy Graham during his crusades in Moscow, Russia; Essen, Germany; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, and then for Brother Andrew, "God's Smuggler," Dan headed off to California in 1982 to assist Brother Andrew in his Open Doors USA Southern California office, as media director.
Above, Dan Wooding and Mother Teresa
After about five years of working with Open Doors USA, Dan, along with his wife, Norma, began ASSIST and later, the ASSIST News Service, now one of largest Internet-based news services in the world.
So, as you can see, Dan is larger than life- but his message is simple: the search for truth always ends up with Christ; and it is for this simple message that I appreciate Dan the most.
Rick Warren, author of the best-selling book, The Purpose Drive Life, said in his endorsement on the front cover of From Tabloid to Truth, "Dan Wooding has lived one of the most amazing and exciting lives you could ever imagine. This is a book you won't put down once you pick it up." I couldn't agree with him more!
To get your own copy of From Tabloid to Truth, go to www.assist-ministries.com/feedbkdan/indexbook1.htm where you can order it.
You can also read more about Dan and his family, by going to fromtabloidtotruth.com/
January 11, 2015