Jesus was not always a part of Joseph Lawski’s magic act.
But the role has continued to grow over the last six years.
Lawski’s professional moniker is “Joseph the Magician.”
The 68-year-old entertainer has lived in Hilton Head Island, S.C., for more than 25 years, but he spent much of his youth in Columbus, attending Eddy Middle School and graduating from Baker High School.
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While working at a local grocery store, the Lawski became acquainted with Aflac founder John Amos and his wife, Elena. While still in high school, he worked as an operator with the insurance company’s computer and attended Columbus Technical College.
A native of Germany, he came to this country at 13 speaking no English.
He wore an Indian outfit like those he had seen in westerns when he arrived because he thought that was how Americans dressed. He imitated singer Elvis Presley using a badminton racket as his guitar.
Lawski got interested in magic at an early age and began performing while living in San Diego, Calif., after serving in the U.S. Navy and was good enough to join the prestigious Magic Castle in Los Angeles as a working member.
Faith was introduced into Lawski’s professional act when he fell while walking. He broke his shoulder. The humerus bone was smashed.
“I lost a lot of range,” Lawski recalled. “I could no longer get my arm up over my head so I could not perform some of my bigger illusions. What good is a one-armed magician.”
But he could still do sleight of hand, making cigarettes go through coins or sponge balls multiply in his fingers.
Lawski became depressed.
“I did not know how I was going to put food on the table,” he said.
Lawski said he prayed to God and asked him to take away his burden.
“Just tell me what to do and I will do it,” he said in his prayer.
He turned his life over to Jesus.
Lawski said the answer came to him in a dream with Jesus telling him to be a fisher of men and to get in front of people and tell stories about Jesus and the Bible. After all, Lawski would have a captive audience with his act.
The magician had reservations because the places he performed, nightclubs and such, usually do not have the audiences who come to hear about Jesus.
But it was then that he created Jesus In Your Pocket.
It is a card trick that is also a Bible study.
But he is not the only one who can do it.
Lawski, who performs on occasional weekends at the Carriage & Horses Restaurant in Pine Mountain, Ga., got financial backing from a magic lover in Pine Mountain and now sells the card trick on his website hiltonheadmagic.com.
He is currently working on a production with Christian Television Network in Phenix City.
Lawski tells parents they can entertain their children while delivering a lesson about life and Jesus. The trick can be taught to children.
“Some non-Christians are trying to take Jesus and God out of everything these days and our youth just don’t talk about Jesus to each other because that is the first thing on their mind,” he said.
Lawski calls Jesus is Your Pocket an “icebreaker.”
“It is a way to get someone to pay attention to you and get a conversation going,” he said.
The story that is told is about life, happiness and joy and refers to the Bible in many ways.
He is coming to Columbus to talk with jail chaplain Neil Richardson.
“I would like to see prisoners get a get the card trick as a gift when they are released,” he said.
Lawski said since bringing Jesus into the magic, his act is more rewarding than ever.
“I am having fun,” he said. “I am delivering a great message to people in a enjoyable way.”