Kathie Lee Gifford – A Testimony of God’s Faithfulness
For most of her childhood, Kathie’s family honored God in a general sense but didn’t know him personally. They were culturally Jewish on her father’s side and culturally Christian on her mother’s side. But their faith—and indeed everything about their lives—began to change one night when she was 12 years of age.
Kathie came home to see her mother and sister in their living room, weeping in front of the television. A couple years before that time, President Kennedy had been assassinated, so she walked in thinking, “What cataclysmic event has happened this time?”
However, Kathie discovered that her mother and sister had been watching one of Billy Graham’s televised crusades. That night they both surrendered to Christ.
After a few months, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association released its first movie in theaters, The Restless Ones. It was about a girl at the onset of making big decisions in her life. She asks herself whether she’ll follow the way of faith or the way of the world.
A still, small voice
Kathie went to see it at a small theater in their town, Annapolis, Maryland. As she watched, she heard a voice speak to her directly. Although it wasn’t audible, she sensed God saying deep in her spirit, “Kathie, I love you. If you’ll trust me, I’ll make something beautiful out of your life.”
At the end of the movie, someone in the theater stood up and made an announcement, “Whoever would like to make this step of faith, come forward.” Kathie couldn’t get out of my seat fast enough.
Her brother didn’t want her walking into the crowd on her own and said, “You’re not going anywhere.” Kathie spurted back, “Oh yeah? Stop me.” He came with her to make sure she was safe. Standing at the front of the theater, she asked Jesus into her heart.
Led by the spirit
At that age, all she wanted was to become a singer or an actress. The Lord met Kathie Lee Gifford in a movie theater, in the very world she dreamed of being a part of. From that point on, God was with her at every twist and turn and at every decision. The Holy Spirit would say to her, “Go that way. Go down that road,” or, “No, Kathie, don’t take that part. No, that will not glorify the Lord.” God kept her on his path and eventually led her to Hollywood.
A story of God’s faithfulness
The story of the life of Kathie Lee Gifford is not the story of her faithfulness to God but rather of his faithfulness to her.
When she first got to Hollywood, she met for Bible study with about a dozen fellow Christians who perceived they were called to serve God through arts and entertainment. They were chastised far more by Christians than by anybody else at that time. They’d ask, “How can you say you’re a Christian and be in Hollywood?” Kathie would always reply, “How could I be in Hollywood and not be a Christian?” How could I put up with the work and rejection without the security of God’s faithfulness?
But even in the entertainment industry, Kathie never felt pressured to make light of or hide her faith.
That does not mean she didn’t struggle, make mistakes, or break God’s heart on some occasions. But the story of her life as she said: “Its not the story of my faithfulness to God but of his faithfulness to me.”
During the 1990s, while she was co-hosting “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee”, she faced a wave of vicious attacks in the tabloids. She was accused of exploiting sweatshop labor in the factories that made her clothing line, then sold at Wal-Mart. The following year the news of Kathie’s husband’s infidelity hit the media. She and her husband Frank both stopped watching TV and reading newspapers.
They focused on the Word of God. She chose to read what God said about them, not what the world said. They weren’t new to the business; by that time, they knew how the Enemy operated. It became their Hebrews 12:2 moment, fixing our eyes upon Jesus, who endured the shame of the cross on our behalf.
A call from Billy Graham
When Kathie Lee Gifford was accused of awful things, and when the news came out that her husband had been unfaithful to her, the first phone call always came from Billy Graham, who had become their friend. Many years after when she saw Billy on TV and the movie screen, he continued to share the same gospel hope with them directly: “God loves you. God died for you. God has a plan for your life. And God is coming back to take you to glory. In a world where trends, people, fads, and politics change, the Word of God never changes. God himself never does.” And Billy’s message never did.
Kathie said, “I love you” and goodbye to Billy at his 95th birthday party in 2013, not knowing that Frank would leave the earth before Billy. Last year, she got another call from the Graham family—this time from Franklin—to extend their sympathies the day that Frank died at age 84.
Frank passed away on a Sunday morning as there were getting ready for church. He was wearing Kathie’s favorite outfit of his, a white shirt and tight black jeans. After his death, she felt at once the tragedy of losing him and the triumph of his life. While mourning the loss of the man Kathie had been married to for 29 years, she felt the love of he friends, coworkers, and many others like she had never known.
Share Your Testimony
A week after Frank died, Kathie Lee Gifford felt the Lord calling her to go back to the Today show and share about his life. She had no idea what I would say and prayed, “Lord, give me utterance.” She spoke from her heart, as she has always done for 40 years on television.
She sat in her chair in the studio, looked into the camera, and told viewers about the core of their Christian faith. She revealed that Frank died in complete peace, knowing that every sin he’d ever committed was forgiven. He died with the hope that they would one day be together with the Lord. Their faith had always been the answer, and it could be the same for other people too.
She also shared a story from their last trip to Israel, when they went to the Valley of Elah—the place where David battled Goliath. Their friend Ray Vander Laan, a Bible teacher and historian, explained that the miracle of David and Goliath was not that a shepherd could kill a giant. He said it was a story that shows David had a personal relationship with the living God who gave him the victory.
Remembering David’s story, they picked up stones from the brook. Ray looked at each of them and asked, “What’s your stone? What has God already prepared you to do?”
What is your stone?
Kathie Lee Gifford thought of God’s promise from back in the theater—to make something beautiful with her life—and all that he’d enabled her to do in his name in music, television, and on Broadway. The question hit deeply for Frank, enough that she believed it changed his life and deepened his faith more than ever. Frank lived his last years focused on his stone and his legacy as a servant of God.
Their daughter graduated from high school right after they got home from Israel, and they gave her a stone. They said, “Cass, where are you going to throw it? You’re going to throw it at Hollywood.” (She’s an actress and, like Kathie, has discovered fellowship with other Christians in the industry as she strives to honor God with her career.)
Furthermore, about a week later, their son, Cody, graduated from the film school at the University of Southern California. They gave him a stone as well. They said, “Cody, where are you going to throw your stone to bring shalom to the chaos of the world?” That’s the very purpose we were put on this earth for—that and that alone.
At this point in Kathie’s life, having lost her father, her husband, and many others, she was tempted to lose heart and just focus on the day she will finally be with them and Jesus. It was overwhelming for her at times since the world is so dark and so void of God’s Spirit.
Do not be weary in well-doing
But Scripture says,
“Let us not be weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9, KJV).
When she read that, she prayed, “Okay, Lord, you’re going to have to help me be strong. You’re going to have to help me with inspiration. You’re going to have to help me keep going.”
Having received strength through her prayers Kathie remarked: “The Devil would have us give up. The Devil would have us stop sharing the Word. He would have us stop giving hope to the hopeless. And we can’t fall for that. As much as we long for a different world, we have to stay in this one for now. It’s up to us to make an impact for Christ until he comes or until he takes us. The words God spoke to me 50 years ago are just as true today, and for every moment I have left, I will trust him to work his beautiful plan for me.”
Source: Kathie Lee Gifford