Street preacher is 'Dizzy' for the Lord - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Street preacher is 'Dizzy' for the Lord

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Posted: Friday, January 2, 2009 5:08 pm | Updated: 2:02 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

 When car horns blare at Main Street and Stapley Drive, Robert Disbrow says Jesus is being praised.

SLIDESHOW: Street minister

VIDEO: Robert Disbrow, street minister, preaches along the streets of Mesa

When car horns blare at Main Street and Stapley Drive, Robert Disbrow says Jesus is being praised.

SLIDESHOW: Street minister

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"God bless you, brother!" shouts Disbrow over the noise of the Mesa intersection. "Praise the Lord!"

To most, he is "Dizzy," as a takeoff on his last name, but the gravel-voiced street preacher says, "We don't use that name no more, but people still call me that. I just say, 'Please call me Robert, because the Lord calls me Robert.'"

For nearly 17 years the self-proclaimed "entertainer for God" has been a fixture on his bicycle as he rides up and down East Main Street, constantly gyrating his arms in godly gestures and holding up his wooden cross with a small Bible banded to it by shoestrings. The thick-bearded, sun-baked man of alternative hats may be the most recognized person on a Mesa street. He turns heads and causes drivers to roll down their windows to shout a "Hey, Dizzy!" What they get back are assorted gestures of exuberance and whooping words of rejoicing and encouragement.

But now at nearly 55, Disbrow has limited the biking to about two miles each day and mostly hangs out at Main and Stapley, walking constantly in a square through the crosswalks as the lights change. For hours, he is "foursquare for Jesus," striving to catch drivers' eyes, chime out a greeting and get a laugh. He gives "high fives" to pedestrians he confronts in crosswalks and explodes in robust blessings to them. All the time, he does ostentatious hand signals that cause drivers to hit their horns to acknowledge him. And some occasionally give an obscene gesture to this unsinkable cheerleader for God. But pay no mind, he says, God created that finger in the middle of the hand, and that makes it good.

"I wished there were more clowns like me out here serving God," he said wistfully. "It's one thing to love God, but it is also to serve God, to give our time to him." He commonly hands out his business card featuring a picture of him beside his bike. It reads "Disbrow Ministry's (sic) on Main Street - Christ Our Father in Heaven - United States of America," followed by his name and Mesa post office box.

At the intersection, he feigns the motions of a traffic cop and sometimes orders Satan to get out of the place. "I hope you are saved, because I don't want you to go to hell" is a common shout to people within hearing range.

The New York native said he "bounced around all over the place" with his mother and stepfather as a kid. He joined the Army in his late teens. "I had a nervous breakdown over in Korea," Disbrow said. "It had to do too much with doing drugs like LSD. You name it, I did it." He took temporary disability retirement.

"I was lost, I was a heathen, a worldly person," he said. Then one day in 1989, in Mesa's Pioneer Park, he came upon a "group of Christians" roasting hot dogs and hamburgers and playing gospel music. "I recognized one of the guys there as one of my beer-drinking buddies in the late '70s in Tempe," Disbrow said. "He was conformed. He was born again, so I started listening to what he had to say." Three weeks later his new friends found him a place to stay in Apache Junction. "I wanted to get off the street and be with good people," he said. "About the third week out there, I got water baptized."

But the most transforming moment may have come Aug. 30, 1990, when a metal-recycling truck struck him while he was bicycling to a blood center to sell his plasma, in what was a hit-and-run accident. With three eyewitnesses to later vouch for him, Disbrow won a legal settlement that gives him money over time. However, he had suffered major fractures in both hips that would put him in a wheelchair, but he said God healed him.

He said he was sober and not drinking before the accident, but "I started drinking again." One night while playing pool in a bar, Disbrow got into an argument and one hand was badly stabbed as he protected his torso. He spent nine days in the Veterans Administration hospital. Now homeless, he entered a substance abuse program. Disbrow has been sober since, except for an occasional glass of wine.

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