By Kirk Noonan
At the beginning of Bibleman: Shattering the Prince of Pride, Miles
Peterson a man of status, money and influence is standing
in a slashing rainstorm with briefcase in hand. Lightning flashes
and thunder rolls as he lets out a primal scream and falls
facedown into a mud puddle. Writhing in agony, he notices a Bible
partially covered in the mire. "Then in his darkest hour the
words of a single book began to change his life," says the narrator,
as Peterson pulls a Bible from the earth.
"And at last, Miles Peterson felt a burning desire to know God.
Inspired by the Word of God and equipped with unyielding faith, Miles
pledged to fight evil in the name of God as Bibleman."
Willie Aames, 40, who portrays Bibleman, had a similar conversion
experience minus the rain and mud. Aames, best known for his
roles in the television programs Eight Is Enough, Charles in Charge
and Swiss Family Robinson, had fame and fortune. But he, like Miles
Peterson, did not have hope or peace until he met Jesus Christ.
"The only reason I became an actor is because I wanted to be
accepted," says Aames. "I wanted to prove to the world that
they had to deal with me."
While growing up in Southern California, Aames says he had been the
runt of his family. He also felt out of place with one older brother
a track star, another one handsome and popular, and his sister on
an All-American drill team. "And then there was me," Aames
says. "I was the small kid that never really did anything special
and always got picked on at school."
Instead of withdrawing into anonymity, Aames used his feelings of
inadequacy and insecurity as fuel to push himself beyond his critics.
"When people said I couldnt do something, I was determined
to prove them wrong," he says. "Thats what drove my
Aames got his first starring role at age 8 in a Phillips 66 television
commercial. Soon after, guest roles on television shows such as The
Courtship of Eddies Father and Gunsmoke followed.
In 1976, he started playing Tommy Bradford on Eight Is Enough
and instantly became a teen-age heartthrob. Though he thrived on all
the attention, happiness eluded him. "I was intensely afraid
of everything," he admits. "And I was trying to figure out
who I was. I wanted to feel loved and accepted the same as
Finding no solace, he turned to alcohol and marijuana at age 13.
Then he began using cocaine, Quaaludes and other hard drugs. As the
years passed, his career never sputtered, but his personal life hit
bottom. In search of deliverance from his addictions he joined a 12-step
alcohol and drug rehabilitation program. In 1983, he guest starred
on a cable television show. There he met Maylo McCaslin, a promising
actress, who was also battling a drug addiction. The combination of
Aames and Maylo proved to be a destructive mix. "One week we
were sober; the next, we were getting high," Aames says.
One night as they cruised around Los Angeles, Maylo convinced Aames
to listen to a preacher on the radio. "He made me laugh,"
says Aames, "and I felt like he was talking directly to me because
everything he spoke of related to me."
Aames and Maylo decided to attend the pastors church. As soon
as they entered the church, Aames got mad. "They wouldnt
let me smoke in the sanctuary because they said it was Gods
During the service several people shared their testimonies. "These
people had done all the things I had done, but they had hope,"
That day, Aames and Maylo asked God to forgive them of their sins
and made commitments to Christ as Savior. "When I accepted Christ,
I felt accepted for the first time in my life," says Aames. "Our
pastor assured us we were new creatures in Christ. We both wept because
we realized that God was giving us a clean slate."
They left the church free of their addictions and hopeful for their
future as Christians. Six months later, they were baptized and married
at the church on the same day. They stayed in Hollywood, then moved
to Kansas City, Kan., a decade ago so Aames could produce fishing
shows and step back from the spotlight. They went to a smaller church
and became grounded in the Word.
A few years after moving to the Midwest, Aames received a phone call
from Gary Randall and Mike Schatz of Pamplin Entertainment, now based
in Portland, Ore. Randall and Schatz told Aames they had his next
big project: Bibleman. "I thought it was the worst idea I had
ever heard. But after praying about it and seeking counsel from my
pastor and Christian friends, I began to like the idea of Bibleman,"
Aames says. "I never pictured myself in childrens ministry,
but every step of the way has been about obedience."
Today, 15 years after becoming Christians, the Aameses live in Portland
with their children. Aames is the executive vice president of Pamplin
and spends most of his time writing, directing and performing. This
year Bibleman, an outreach for children, will bring its high-octane,
state-of-the-art, live production to 130 venues. Last year more than
16,000 children and adults committed their lives to Christ at Bibleman
"God is interested in our obedience," says Aames, who should
minister to more than 500,000 people this year during the Bibleman
tour. "He has a greater plan than we could ever hope for
I know that firsthand. Thats exactly what happened with me and
the Bibleman ministry."
Kirk Noonan is news editor of the Pentecostal