Dr. Jerry Johnston Interviews Dr. William Martin

Dr. William Martin is the Harry and Hazel Chavanne Professor Emeritus of Religion and Public Policy in the Rice University Department of Sociology. He serves as the Chavanne Senior Fellow for Religion and Public Policy at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice.

Dr. Martin’s research and writing have focused on issues ranging from religion to criminology and drug policies. He is the author of many important works including the recent, “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story.”

Dr. William Martin visited Houston Baptist University and talked with Dr. Jerry Johnston, HBU VP of Innovation and Strategic Marketing. Martin is known for his 50-year tenure at Rice University. In addition to his academic work, he is an accomplished writer, penning pieces for magazines like Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic and Esquire.

At age 16, Martin determined he would like to be a college professor. That led him down the path of working in higher education. It was an article he wrote about evangelist Billy Graham, however, that marked an important milestone in his life. He was later asked by Graham to write an in-depth biography of the legend’s life and work.

“Billy Graham said, ‘You know me better than anyone except Ruth. I don’t know that a biographer could get a better compliment than that,” Martin says. Martin went on the write, “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story.” The title is a play Jesus’ words in Mark 6:4: “Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’”

In writing the biography, Martin spent many hours interviewing the Grahams and those closest to them. “Billy Graham said, ‘I want you to be absolutely fair about this.’ I wanted him and members of his team to read it for factual accuracy,” Martin remembers. After the original publication in 1991, Martin released an updated version in 2018.

Martin describes Graham as someone who had the ability to connect with many people. Graham was involved in multiple areas – from education to politics. In fact, he spoke at HBU (then Houston Baptist College) in 1963. Graham was connected with religious leaders and political leaders alike. “Billy was fascinated by presidents,” Martin says.

Martin concludes that Billy Graham was very successful in doing what he needed to do. “Certainly, he was a person of integrity. Some said you could split him all the way down and he was the same,” Martin says. “A couple who worked for them said the Grahams were the same inside the house as they were outside. The humility was genuine.”

Dr. Jerry Johnston Interviews Gil Ilutowich

Gil Ilutowich is co-CEO and chairman of the board for Compedia, an Israel-based technology company. Compedia specializes in immersive learning, bringing high-tech engagement techniques that enable learners to interact with and absorb material. The company’s creations include academic and religious curricula, professional and military training technologies, and more.

Visit Compedia.net.

Israeli businessman and technology expert Gil Ilutowich spoke with Dr. Jerry Johnston, VP of Innovation and Strategic Marketing for Houston Baptist University. “My mother was raised a Christian so she always put the love for Jewish people and for Jesus in my heart. She said we have to love both the Jewish people and the Christians,” Ilutowich says.

Ilutowich went from humble beginnings to establishing Compedia with partners more than three decades ago. The augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies the company uses apply to many different areas. Projects range from interactive children’s books to corporate training and manufacturing streamlining.

Recently, they’ve trained members of the Israel Defense Forces in combat. Ilutowich describes, “One of the problems Israel is facing is Hamas. We developed virtual reality tunnels where the IDF soldiers can train. The inventions that are happening in Israel are remarkable. So many other inventions that are changing the world come from Israel.”

Johnston asserts that AR and VR are changing culture. Ilutowich agrees.

“You can buy something for $1 and put your phone on it or you can use other, much more high-quality devices,” he says. “The idea here is that you are in another reality. VR is going into many fields now – education, manufacturing, training, hospitals.”

In education, the company has developed school curricula for several subjects including biblical education. Bible courses are compulsory for students in Israel. Similarly, the company created 3-D materials for the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.

Ilutowich and Compedia are passionate about teaching the Bible and the Torah. “How can we live in a world where we are raising generation after generation who don’t know the basis of Western culture?” Ilutowich asks. “I see it as a crime.”

In keeping with their mission, the Compedia team keeps technologies wholesome. “The inventions that are happening in Israel are remarkable,” Ilutowich says. “We have a rule in Compedia. Something that I don’t want to bring to my family, I don’t want to bring to other families. We are only focusing on education and doing good.”