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700 Club

Coping When Your Siblings are Famous

Get Bridgette's Book, "Overlooked."

     “We were all happy and well-adjusted kids, but I was probably the happiest,” Bridgette says of her childhood perspective.  “I was a naturally eternal optimist, though I hadn’t any idea at that age what that was.”  Of the four Cameron kids, Kirk is the oldest, then Bridgette, Melissa, and Candace.  She says their childhood was full of family get-togethers, friends, and loads of fun.  “Between beach trips, family vacations, and sibling squabbles, I occasionally found myself in my room alone.  That was the place I dreamed of performing.  I loved to dance, sing, and act.  I twirled across my room, dreaming of playing this role or that, being a big singer, or dancing in some Broadway show.”  None of her siblings were as “entertainment-oriented” as she.     

     Bridgette and her siblings all were born and raised in southern California.  Their mom, Barbara, got to be friends with a woman whose son, Adam Rich, landed a role in the late-70’s hit TV show, Eight is Enough.  She strongly encouraged Barbara to have her kids audition with their talent agent, Iris.  Bridgette says her parents weren’t interested and that school was extremely important in their family, especially since her dad, Robert, was a math teacher.  Barbara’s friend persisted and eventually, the Camerons decided it might be something fun for their kids, especially Bridgette, and called the agent.
     The whole family went to the 1979 audition in downtown L.A.  “My excitement for the day couldn’t be contained,” Bridgette remembers.  “My brother was the least enthusiastic about it all.”  Each Cameron child read copy for a commercial and followed Iris’ direction.  When they were all finished, the agent called Barbara into her office.  “Kirk got picked right away,” Bridgette remembers.  “She wanted Melissa, too.  Candace was too young at four, but Iris said to bring her back when she was six.  Mom leaned forward.  ‘What about Bridgette?  You’re not taking Bridgette?  Out of all my kids, Bridgette’s the one who really wants to do this.’  Iris simply replied, ‘She needs braces.  Bring her back when the braces are off.’”  Seven-year-old Bridgette was deeply disappointed, but soon enough was back to singing, dancing, and putting on little plays in her neighborhood.  She occasionally auditioned for parts that called for kids with braces, but still wasn’t selected. “In the meantime, I watched my brother’s acting career take off.  He was an overnight hit, winning everything he did.”
     In the ensuing years, success came easily to Kirk, who, in 1985, landed the role of Mike Seaver in the hit show Growing Pains.  Just two years later, Candace won the part of D.J. Tanner in the popular show, Full House.  Melissa also took some TV bit roles and commercials, but wasn’t as interested in ”show biz” as her siblings. Bridgette kept hoping for a breakthrough, but wore braces from second grade through high school, as well as a neck brace some of that time, to correct her underbite.  Still, Bridgette had lots of wonderful experiences connected to her siblings’ celebrity - thanks to her parents.  She says they were very intentional about including the whole family whenever one of the kids was part of a special event, e.g. The Peoples Choice Awards, for which Kirk was nominated several times.  She says she was also able to meet many entertainment legends from “Old Hollywood” at various parties, including Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, Patty Duke, Phyllis Diller, George Burns, and Betty White.  “One time we were at a table with Jimmy Stewart and Kirk leaned over for help placing his name. “‘Kirk!’ I whispered harshly.  ‘It’s Jimmy Stewart.  Jimmy Stewart.  You can’t be at a table with people like Jimmy Stewart and not know who he is!’  Kirk shrugged, unaffected as usual, as I cast a starry gaze across the table.”  Though experiences like that were marvelous, Bridgette continued to struggle with feeling left out and disappointed much of the time.    

     As Bridgette says, “There is no handbook for raising celebrity children.”  Barbara and Robert did their best to keep all the plates spinning, but after nearly a decade of Kirk and Candace being in the entertainment industry, it was obvious to all that it was taking a toll.  “My parents’ marriage was crumbling by the day,” Bridgette says.  “It wasn’t long before Mom moved to an apartment by herself, partly because of the rifts in their marriage, and partly because it was more convenient for managing my siblings’ careers.”  Meantime, her dad managed everything at home, and took primary care of Melissa and Bridgette.  She says they were all absolutely worried that their parents would divorce.  

     About the same time as their parents’ separation, when Kirk was 17, he began dating an actress who invited him to church.  The Camerons had never been religious, nor their extended families, so this was something new. He went to please the girlfriend, and was unprepared for what he heard.  The pastor, her father, asked the congregation the question, “If you died tonight would you go to heaven?” He then clearly laid out the requirements, which no one can meet, and explained the gospel.  “Kirk drove home that night in his Porsche, weaving along the 405 in the San Fernando Valley, deep in thought about everything the pastor had said.   Eventually he pulled into a parking lot and, for the first time in his life, talked to God.”  He continued going to church even after the dating relationship ended, and came to faith in Jesus.  Though Kirk mostly kept his fledgling faith to himself, Bridgette noticed he became nicer and more patient.  She says he also started asking for dialog changes for his TV character, not wanting to dishonor God.  Before long, Kirk invited his family to church.  Bridgette was the first to follow suit and ask Jesus to be her Savior.  “From there, the rest of my family slowly followed.  One by one Jesus took us to the place of repentance and brought us under His redemptive protection.  My dad, who’d always been a deep and logical thinker was the last one to accept Christ.”  Soon, their   Mom moved back home.  “My parents, though never divorced, returned to their marriage, and began doing the hard work they’d abandoned long ago.  Now, fifty-four years later, they’re still going.”

     As she grew in her faith and knowledge of God’s Word, Bridgette was able to see her life through a much different lens.  Though she had suffered many great disappointments, God’s hand of love and provision was clearer than before.  For instance, at 18, she was given the opportunity to be a “stand-in” for other child actors who were required to be in school several hours a day, starting with her sister on the set of Full House.  Her smaller stature turned out to be a big advantage.  That job grew into a 25-year career that she loved.  
     Another example comes from a horrendous accident in 2014.  Bridgette, her husband, John, and their three kids were driving cross country to join Kirk and his family as he hosted the K-LOVE music awards show in Nashville.  In Texas, an incredible dust storm arose, making it impossible to see the road.  John pulled off the road to wait it out, almost hitting a semi-truck which had stopped in the road.  Not long after, another semi, just as large as the first, slammed into the truck next to them – right where they’d been – and a fireball shot into the sky.  Then, yet another semi wedged itself into the space between their car and the burning semis.  One of the truck drivers yelled for them to get out of their car and run, which they did.  Unscathed, Bridgette saw God’s hand of protection like never before in her life.
     The main message that Bridgette wants others to take from her book is what she’s learned over the years of many ups and downs.  “Our purpose as human beings is to live in the will of God.  For some, that means motherhood.  For others, it’s being a devoted spouse.  For others, it is to provide for their families or to raise the next generation or to help those who are in need.  For all of us, though, our most important purpose is to point people to Jesus.”     


700 Club

Darryl Strawberry's Greatest Gift to God

His unique name helped distinguished a colorful career, thriving with baseball success while hurdling personal setbacks saying, “If I just identify myself as Darryl Strawberry, the Major League baseball player, I miss the whole mark of life.” 

Few have achieved more than Darryl Strawberry, a top Major League draft pick and rookie of the year, a 3-time world champion, and 8-time all-star, adding, “That was part of my life. But that’s no longer who I am today.”

Nearly two decades sober, the imposing slugger watches his New York Mets jersey immortalized while kneeling for what’s redemptive and eternal. 

Question: “A life of willing transformation. What do you see that’s honorable when the number goes up?”

Darryl Strawberry: “I see how God rescues, redeems, and restores. Not some things, but all things. His plan is like greater than anything we can ever imagine. Sometimes God needs to stop certain people to get their attention so you can recognize that He’s God. That’s what happened in my life. I had all this fame and fortune, but the promises over my life were greater than my baseball career.” 

Question: “That Mets franchise is where you had most of your Major League success. Does it give you a sense of completion? 

Darryl Strawberry: “Completion for me. To say thank you. Thank you to a city, the fans, thank you to the organization. So many other people, my family, my wife, kids! Had it not been for the guys I played with – it takes a great team to make you a great player! The teams I played on in seven years we had a chance to win.”

Question: “First or second place finishes.”

Darryl Strawberry: “Yes. So, I never finished under second!”

Question: “Back to Shea Stadium with a crazed clubhouse on some accounts. How do you now see the professional part of the success and the personal part of some the failure that came with it?”

Darryl Strawberry: “There’s two parts of life – achieving and the struggle. The Bible didn’t say some of us would fall short. He said we would all fall short of the glory of God. So, understanding falling short was a part of it. It doesn’t mean you stay there. And that’s when I was able to fall on my knees...Jesus was there! Seven years of discipleship, of learning God’s Word and learning who God is. I’m glad I took the time off to do that to become that man.”

Question: “Does it inspire you, seeing his life?”

Dwight “Doc” Gooden: “Definitely! It still inspires me. I know he’s a guy that I can call, not going to judge me. He can relate to the things that I struggle with and I can talk to him about anything, to be open with him, knowing it's not going to go anywhere. I remember 7 years ago now when my mom was sick, he went to visit my mom and spent like two hours with my mom, prayed over my mom, that’s when I knew it was for real.”

Question: “The pain of uncertainty. How has all that position you as an overcomer?

Darryl Strawberry: “We all have some type of pain, some type of hurt, some type of rejection, loneliness that we go through. I didn’t have a father. He rejected me. So, I had to battle through that. That was my own personal battle to get out on this field and make it happen. So, there was some major pieces missing in my life when I had my career of being a man. And I didn’t learn all of that until I went through the addiction, the sinful lifestyle, the cancer, losing my left kidney and now having a major heart attack at 62. He has extended me more time to complete His work.”

Question: “Darryl, do we underserve what and more importantly, those who've invested into us, along our journey?”

Darryl Strawberry: “I’m glad for the struggle because I probably never would have found the symbol of the cross. I’d probably still today still be chasing notoriety than being the man God wanted me to be. I’m living the legacy of my mom and what she prayed for. And I’m so thankful for that because that’s transformation because Christ is alive and Christ comes in you, now Christ lives in you.”

Question: “In a career linked to statistics and performance how do you hear His approval, not for what you do but for who you are?”

Darryl Strawberry: “You receive His approval when you know Him. Every day. Even in the hard times. You talk to Him. He’s your Father, and He speaks to you, and He lets you know – ‘I got you!' I live for the Kingdom. I don’t live a brand. I don’t live for applause. I live because of what Jesus has done and I know what the light looks like. The light is greater than the darkness. And people need to understand that.”

Brandon Nimmo, Mets Outfielder: “I knew his story and gravitated towards him. He welcomed that right away and we’ve been able to have great conversation of the radical change that Jesus can bring into your life when you accept Him and bring Him in. For me it's an incredible story that’s really inspiring.”

Jay Horwitz, Mets VP Alumni Relations: “You know everybody says, ‘Well, should he have made the Hall of Fame – maybe, probably, but for me what he’s doing now in his ministry work, helping people, traveling around the country, when he had his heart attack what he said to me was, ‘every day I’m off the road it's one less person I can help.’ To me ­is much more important than a plaque in Cooperstown.”

Question: “The term immortalized. You’ll have your number on that. I just wonder how it brings you into that image of God that He call's us.”

Darryl Strawberry: “That’s more important, the radical change that my life has taken. I’ve had an incredible encounter with God, and it has been the greatest gift I’ve ever received. Have I had an effect on people’s lives and bought a lot of cheer from a ball game? Yes! That’s baseball. But being in ministry, and preaching the gospel, and having an effect on people’s lives – that’s eternal! It’s a whole different destiny. I look at how great God is. Nobody’s like God. Nobody can do what He does!”

Question: “For Darryl Strawberry, why should the jersey, the number, the banner of Jesus Christ be raised?”

Darryl Strawberry: “Well, because He’s the King. We don’t crown ourself. We crown the King. I need to crown Him for what He has done. Because Darryl Strawberry, the great baseball player in the flesh of who I was, he no longer lives. Jesus Christ is the miracle maker. Not us. Not a uniform. Not a number hanging up. Jesus Christ is the miracle maker. And His love for people is to spare people and to save people.”

700 Club

Life-Changing Surgery Underscores Hope in Jesus

After years of multiple miscarriages, Mrs. Li started losing hope that she’d ever have a baby.  Finally, Cheng was born.

She recalls, “His upper jaw was severely damaged, and he didn't have a tooth socket.  This wasn’t what I expected.  I was really scared.”

Cheng had a cleft lip and palate.

“I didn’t think he’d be able to drink milk since his mouth was cracked,” Mrs. Li says.  “And if I couldn’t feed him, how would he survive?  A doctor said without nutrients, he may live a year at most.”

Cheng’s dad abandoned the family.

“He couldn’t accept that his son was like this, Mrs. Li explains.  “My heart was broken.  My baby and I were going to have a difficult life. I didn’t know how we were going to make it.”

Mrs. Li’s own family refused to help.

She shares, “There were all sorts of rumors going around. I was very angry because I didn't want people saying bad things about my baby.”

Cheng choked a lot and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia.  A doctor said he was malnourished and anemic.

“He said it would get worse each time because it would damage his lungs,” proclaims Mrs. Li.  “He said the only way to solve Cheng’s problem was cleft lip and palate surgery.”

Mrs. Li prayed to the local gods for help.  She worked two jobs to try to save for surgery, yet only made $3 a day. Then a woman in a support group told Mrs. Li about Jesus.

“Every time we met, we read the Bible together,” she exclaims.  “I didn’t feel alone anymore.  I saw the true light and had hope for the first time.”

This woman also told Mrs. Li about Operation Blessing, and you helped Cheng get cleft lip surgery.

“Cheng has recovered very well.  He’s a different person. He’s handsome, and now he can drink milk without choking,” Mrs. Li shares.  She concludes, “Through all this, I learned that Jesus is not like our local gods.  You don’t have to bring Him something before you ask Him for help. Jesus is just there.  I experienced that in my most difficult time with Operation Blessing.  You helped me find new life and gave my son a second chance. I am truly grateful for your love.”

700 Club

Healed Landscaper Pursues His Passion

Tom has spent his entire career as a landscaper in the Pacific Northwest.

Tom says, “I enjoy working outside. I like trying to make things look natural.”

But in the late 90s, while on the job, Tom had an accident with a wood chipper.

Tom recalls, “… this particular chipper would actually grab whatever you had, so you wouldn’t quite get loose of it, and it would jerk your arm … actually ended up tearing the rotator cuff.”

Tom didn’t have any medical insurance and couldn’t afford to see a doctor. So, he had to manage the pain on his own.

Tom remembers, “Pretty much just was careful with it and made sure I didn’t hurt it.  And if I did it was put heat on it at night and lay down. To take the weight off of it when I'm driving I sit with my fist doubled up on the seat…made it more comfortable to sit that way.”

Over the years, as the pain got worse, Tom would often have to ask his co-workers for help.

Tom recounts “… when I raised up above… to do something like that or run the hedge trimmers- that was a no-no, that could cause pain for several days.”

Eventually just doing everyday things were painful.     

Tom explains, “Even shaking hands with somebody, sometimes they, you know, you’re done but they are not, and they kinda pull. That would cause the shoulder to hurt… It got to where you- I didn’t want to lift my arm.”

Years later Tom got insurance and saw a doctor. An MRI confirmed he had torn his rotator cuff. The next step was surgery… until one day, when the job was rained out, Tom decided to watch The 700 Club.

Gordon praying, “There’s someone you’re asking, ‘Please say rotator cuff’, you have a rotator cuff injury in your right shoulder, it’s very painful for you to move’”    

Tom remembers, “So that kinda piqued my interest. But then when he said it was the right side, I just yelled out, ‘Yah, I’m claiming that, that’s mine!’ Like a little kid after candy… and then I decided well, you know, ‘If God healed me, maybe I ought to just raise my arm and-and praise Him for it. And so I raise my arm and I kinda looked over at it, and it was – I could hear it crunching, but I had it up higher than I’ve ever had it. And I was, ‘Wow!’” You know? No more pain. It was gone.”

For the first time in over 20 years, he worked all day without shoulder pain, and, thanks to God’s gift of healing, it’s never come back.

Tom says, “It chokes me up… I tell everybody. You know, it doesn’t matter whether they're a Christian or not, I-I tell them "Hey, this is what God did for me.”

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