Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
Note: I took an unexpectedly long weekend when a computer crash upset my plan to post this Monday. But, thanks to support from the good folks at Carbonite and Geek Squad, I’m up and running again. My thanks to the techies that helped me retrieve my data and move forward again. They were very knowledgeable and polite — a reminder to me that anyone who helps others by earnestly using their talents and conduct themselves with a positive attitude in, indeed, doing God‘s work on Earth.
(Photo: Facebook/Christy Smith Haizlip)
He said, She Said (Part 2). As I wrote last week, Oxygen appears to have a new hit on its hands with Preachers of L.A., its new reality following six successful church pastors from the Southern California area. The show airs a new episode tonight (10/30) at 10:00 PM (ET).
Last week, I spoke with Jay Haizlip, pastor of The Sanctuary in Huntington Beach about the experience of having his ministry recorded for a reality TV show. Now, it’s time to hear from his wife Christy. Again, as I noted last week, their story (involving Jay’s past drug addiction) has been a test of faith and love that appears to have had a happy ending. And this is one he said, she said story where both sides agree that it was God brought them both through it.
JWK: As Jay’s wife and partner in the ministry, what has this TV experience been like for you?
CHRISTY HAIZLIP: It’s been a great experience — (bringing) a lot of new people in my life. It was challenging to find room for it in our already busy schedule but it, overall, it’s been a very pleasant experience.
JWK: (In last week’s episode we saw) you preparing for a tea party with the other pastors’ wives. How do you get along with all of them?
CH: I never knew them before this show. I feel like I can get along with anyone, so, you know, throughout this show (it’s been about) getting to know them. As you guys in the audience were getting to know them, I was getting to know them, as well.
JWK: Has it been challenging to have cameras following your life?
CH: It wasn’t challenging because I already live my life in the public eye as a minister anyways, so having a camera in my house (wasn’t) difficult because they were so respectful and not just following me all over town in a rude kind of way. They scheduled their time with us to come cover. So, they were very respectful to us and they made the process very easy.
JWK: You just described yourself as a minister, as well. Are you an ordained minister? Or is being a pastor’s wife in and of itself sought of synonymous with being a minister?
CH: You know, being married to a pastor definitely thrusts you into ministry. I think it would be unfair for me to sit back and say “Oh, it’s all your responsibility to help minister to the people.” I definitely try to be a blessing to the church and to the people of the church and help in any way that I possibly can and am qualified for.
JWK: Is it hard to be a pastor’s wife?
CH: Yes, it is. I don’t even have to hesitate. It’s very challenging. It’s not in a negative way. It definitely causes you to evaluate yourself on a healthy level and definitely causes you to be stretched at times. It’s definitely a sacrificial lifestyle but, from my Christian standpoint, it just doesn’t compare to the sacrifice that Christ made for me. So, when I look at all Jesus has done for me, it’s easy to give back to the people and help others.
JWK: Were you a Christian when you married Jay?
CH: I was. I did grow up in church. My grandparents went to church and my grandmother taught Sunday school for 52 years. My mom always did her best to keep us in church. But, you know, as I became a teenager, I drifted away from the religious organization of the church but I would always try to pray. But I was never really taught how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. That wasn’t in a concept of anything that I ever knew. It was only after my husband getting saved that through him taking me into different church environments that I had never been in before that I realized that you could have a personal relationship with Jesus and that you didn’t have to be perfect in order to be a Christian. You just had to seek the Lord. So, through Jay’s experience, I definitely saw the need to rededicate my life to the Lord and get a fresh start in that period because I…didn’t realize there was power in the name of Jesus and that God made us overcomers — you know, for whatever reasons.
When I married Jay, was I an active Christian? No, I wasn’t. He never had been to church and it wasn’t on the top of the list of my priorities to marry a Christian man. I just didn’t know any better — but I would always try to compel Jay (saying) “Let’s go to church!” I was a once-a-month kind of Christian. “Let’s go to church,” you know, was something I hungered for.
So, before Jay had gotten saved — and I realized what kind of man I had married — I really began to cry out to God. I even would call Billy Graham Prayer Lines (and plead) “Please help me! Please pray for my husband!” I didn’t know what it was supposed to look like for my prayers to be answered. I just knew that I needed God in my life. My husband needed God. So, you know, God, I think, heard my prayers and (sent) a spiritual man in our lives who ministered salvation and freedom to my husband. That began the process of God just turning our lives upside down and totally wrapping His arms around us and adopting us into the Kingdom and putting our feet up upon a rock. For that, I will always be forever grateful.
JWK: Before that, in the midst of the pit, were you ever tempted to end the marriage?
CH: You know, every bit of my intellect was telling me to leave him because he kept getting worse and worse but there was something in my heart that would not allow me to leave him. And now I know why. But it didn’t make sense to any my loved ones around me who’d be like “Why are you staying with him?” I do look back on it and realize that God had really sustained me and strengthened me. In a weird, healthy way I was able to distance myself from Jay the best I could to keep his unhealthy behavior from affecting me too badly. But, yes, it was hard. It was very, very difficult.
JWK: How many children do you have?
CH: Jay and I have two sons and a daughter. We’re very blessed. Our quiver is full.
JWK: How old are they?
CH: 29, 25 and 13.
JWK: So, you guys have been married a long time!
CH: Yes, we have been.
JWK: Are your children practicing Christians?
CH: Yes, they’re all saved. My sons are in college. Our oldest son leans more toward a career in the medical field and my younger son is a snowboarder. He broke his back and during the process of healing he decided to go to college and further his education. They have not — and are not — pursuing ministry at this time but they’re definitely born again. My daughter is more ministry minded and serves at the church diligently. She had a…prophecy that she would be a great speaker to the nations one day. So, I see her moving towards that.
JWK: So, she may be following in the footsteps of you and Jay.
CH: Absolutely. She definitely has an interest in it and a heart for ministry and sees herself in ministry.
JWK: I asked Jay this question. Where do you see the Sanctuary ministry in five years?
CH: You know, when you live on faith and God is the leader, we just want to please the Lord in whatever we do. We do believe that God has put in us to continue to expand so that we can reach more people for the Kingdom. So, I hope that in five years we have expanded and have raised a bigger platform to reach more souls for the Kingdom.
JWK: So, how do you like doing the interview circuit?
CH: It’s interesting. I’m learning new stuff. I’m getting to look into a world that wasn’t available to me before. So, I find it interesting. Everyone has been very polite and I haven’t been approached by anyone that was negative so far. So, it’s just been very interesting to see a different side of life.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11