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700 Club

Comedian Pursues Laughter Through Tragedy


Chonda can tell any story from her life and make it fall-down funny… but it’s also true that she’s experienced great sorrow and pain. Much of her childhood trauma stemmed from her father, a pastor, and his frequent infidelity. More than once young Chonda innocently walked in on situations that confused her, and later, when she understood more, angered and disgusted her. “My father had a girlfriend in every church. And on the rare occasions he was not having an affair with one of the local ladies, he was locked away in his room under a heap of depression,” she explains.  

The abuse he doled out to his family was both verbal and sexual in nature, she says, including angry words and whippings with a belt. At the same time, Chonda adored her mother and deeply felt her pain and humiliation. Shortly before Chonda graduated high school, her dad left the family, which brought both financial hardship and great relief.

A couple of years berfore that, one of the other great heartaches of Chonda’s young life occurred. Her older sister, Charlotta, was driving to work on a rainy morning, when she hydroplaned into the path of an oncoming car. The vehicle hit hers on the driver’s side, and Charlotta, just twenty, was killed instantly. “My faith in God was not shattered, but it sure was starting to show some cracks,” Chonda admits. “Mom was devastated, Mike (her older brother) and I were crushed, Cheralyn (her younger sister) was a lost soul.”  

Two years later, when Chonda and Cheralyn were finally rebounding, both had starring roles in the school musical, Oklahoma. On the last night of the show, Cheralyn wasn’t feeling well. After a couple days and several tests, they learned the cause: leukemia. It was a rough next few weeks, but thankfully, the family learned that Mike, Chonda’s hero, was an exact match for a bone marrow transplant. The procedure was scheduled for a few days later on a Monday…but would never happen. “Cheralyn died on Saturday morning,” Chonda explains. “Only twenty-one days from her diagnosis.” She was just fifteen years old.  


Chonda married her best friend and high school sweetheart, David Pierce, in 1983. The pair were deeply in love and welcomed their first child, Chera, into their home about a year later. They worked various jobs, including Chonda imitating country legend Minnie Pearl at the Opryland Theme Park. She loved it and received great reviews, though after six years, she yearned to be a stay-at-home mom and left the job.  

Chonda continued imitating Minnie at various gigs for extra money, and because she loved it. At a convention for South Central Bell, Chonda, as Minnie, introduced the president, and soon started ad-libbing as herself. The crowd ate it up. “THAT was the breakthrough moment in my career,” she says. From that came more invitations to entertain at conventions and gatherings, and in time, Chonda started touring with her own comedy routine. By then, they had a son, Zach, and David was truly happy to stay at home with the kids. As Chonda shared onstage about the various traumas in her life, she found it resonated, especially with women. “I found that the more I shared about myself, the more they would talk to me. My comedy and confessions were becoming comfort and compassion for others. And the one receiving the most healing was me.”  

Managing finances was not a strong suit of either Pierce, and unfortunately, Chonda hired some well-meaning, but incompetent managers. “Yep, his firm was collecting a total of 52% of my income, which left only 48% for the government to take,” she quips. Though making plenty of money on tours, they went broke before getting much needed, sound advice from more experienced managers and accountants.  

As her tours and audiences grew larger over the years, Chonda spent more time away from home, which exacted a heavy toll her marriage and family. “The better he was a being the fun parent, the more I felt resentful, partially from guilt and partially from the fact that I hated being the visiting warden. Bottom line, I missed my kids. I watched Zach play soccer only once. I missed Chera’s junior prom. Those regrets still haunt me from time to time.”  

In the early 2000’s, after a decade of touring and all the ups and downs of life at home, Chonda crashed. She was deeply, clinically depressed, and sought help at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital. With the love of her family, time, therapy, medication, and slowing down, Chonda found her way back. “I truly believe one can find complete healing from most anything with a combination of both fact and faith. The Bible taught me I am not alone. But it wasn’t until I felt I was truly alone at Vanderbilt that I learned to rely on my faith.”   


The next dozen or so years brought more ups and downs. Chonda adjusted well to meds and was able to continue her work. As the kids became older and more independent, though, Chonda and David drifted in their relationship. He began to drink to cope with his pain. Trying to fund DVD projects, a recovery center, and detoxes for David, their finances bottomed out again. They had to let go of their dream home, and the couple separated for 18 months. Chonda remembers feeling the weight of it all one particular day: “My mother had passed away a few days before. David was struggling and was away in a detox facility. Zach was at school in California, and Chera, well, she was still far away physically and emotionally.”  

By 2014, though they had reunited, David’s struggle continued. “His drinking got worse, and his health began to fall apart, but I didn’t realize how serious it was as I was finishing up a long tour,” Chonda remembers. Soon after that, he suffered bleeding in his brain and didn’t recover. Chonda was with him till the end. She says she has made it through these ten years by the grace of God and the help of very good girlfriends of forty years. “They have taken the sting out of widowhood for me.” Her advice: “Just be there. Listen to them. Talk only when necessary. Because what most widows need is time and a loving friend in the room.” 

Chonda believes that a big reason people respond to her shows, DVDs, and writing is simply the need we all have to laugh. She acknowledges that these are dark days in our world, and we all need some freedom from so much heaviness. She also wants to help people let go of regrets, knowing all too well how they tear us down and that the devil likes to bring them up. “It’s the enemy’s favorite thing to do,” she says.  

And having dealt with deep depression, Chonda wants people to know there is no shame whatsoever in therapy and medication. To that end, she and her beloved big brother, Mike, opened a recovery center years ago in Murfreesboro, TN, which grew into five facilities, called Branches Counseling Center. With a full range of qualified professionals, they help those dealing with depression, anxiety, addiction, shame, and weight loss. More information is on their website, “It is a place where my brother and I can both say, “Look what God has done with our broken lives.” 

For more information about Chonda Pierce and to check out her upcoming tour dates, please visit To purchase Chonda's book, please click the link: Life Is Funny Until It's Not.  

700 Club

Brain Hemorrhage Threatens 8-year-old Boy’s Ability to Walk, Talk or See Again

Washington, NC

“He was in so much pain, he just didn’t want me to touch him, said Mark Collie, father of 8-year-old Blake Collie.

Blake’s mother, Caroline said, “He starts crying, he’s getting very agitated, he couldn’t lay back.”

Mark and Caroline Collie’s 8-year-old son Blake had been playing in the neighborhood pool just a few minutes when he was struck by a crippling headache.

Mark said, “When he started throwing up, that’s when I said we’re going to the ER.”

By the time they arrived at the closest emergency room in Washington, North Carolina, Blake was unresponsive.

“I immediately turned to God and just, 'Please Lord, please don’t let this be the last day that we have this child with us,'” said Caroline.

A CT scan showed Blake had a massive brain hemorrhage. He was airlifted to Maynard Children’s Hospital in Greenville for emergency surgery.

Caroline said, “We immediately got onto social media, please, please pray for Blake.”

“God, this is big. No matter what happens, I’m going to turn to you,” said Mark.

At Maynard, neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Dalyai explained that Blake’s most immediate danger was the growing pressure on his brain.  

“Blake was very sick, and there was a high likelihood that this would be a life-threatening hemorrhage,” said Dr. Dalyai. “It was deep in his brain, and it was filling up the fluid pockets, the ventricles that we have in our brain. And that was Blake’s initial extreme injury that needed to be fixed emergently.”

Dr. Dalyai’s team installed drains in Blake’s skull to help remove excess blood and relieve the pressure. After the procedure, Mark and Caroline were able to see their son, now in a medically-induced coma.

Mark said, “You go from a bright young lad standing before you and the next moment he’s lying in an intensive care unit with so many lines coming in and out of him. But just so glad to see him there. He’s alive.”

The next day, Dr. Dalyai found the source of the bleeding: an arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, that had ruptured and caused a stroke. Although they stopped the bleeding, the pressure on Blake's brain was still critically high, and it would take weeks to drain the excess blood.

Dr. Dalyai said, “There’s a range of possibilities when somebody’s that sick. They could not survive, they can do very well. And then unfortunately with neurologic injuries, there’s a lot of grey areas, there’s a lot along that spectrum with how people can do, how paralyzed they are, what kind of functional status or cognitive status.”

Caroline said, “We were just saying, “Okay, what are we praying for today, what are we trusting God for today? Let’s worship Him, and let’s pray for that thing today.”

"We were very much aware that we might lose our son,” said Mark. But you kind of take that thought and you put it on a shelf and you don’t look at it again. And then you pray and you believe that God is good and He’s working this out for your good.”  

By now, people all over the world were praying for Blake, including members of his medical team.

Nurse Kara Grubbs said, “You just pray for miracles. Because this family had been through so much. And you just want a miracle.”

Nurse Dynita Haislip said, “He actually had some very dark days. And I was just praying fervently on the way into work.”

By day 16, Blake was stable enough for an MRI. It showed signs of brain damage, which could mean Blake may never walk, talk, or see again.

“It was like a gut punch. It took us to our knees,” said Mark.

Caroline said, “Just upset and so sad and so afraid that we had prayed and it was all for nothing.”

Even then, they continued praying through the night for a miracle.

"That he’ll do better than the MRI seems that he should be doing,” said Nurse Dynita Haislip. “And if we could just get a thumbs up. Now, the whole time knowing that I didn’t truly think that Blake was capable of that.”

Nurse Kara Grubbs said, “I went into a respiratory closet and I just sat there, and I just prayed and prayed and then I said, 'Okay, we can get through the rest of the night.'"

“I was going to keep believing until there was no scrap of hope to hold onto,” said Caroline.

Mark said, “We’re going to fight until there’s nothing left.”

The following day, Dr. Dalyai brought Blake out of the coma just enough to examine him.

“And he said, 'Hey Blakie, can you give me a thumbs up?'" said Mark. “And his hand just went like this (SHOWS THUMBS UP). And I did the classic kind of (GASPS) 'I can’t believe this just happened!'"

Nurse Dynita Haislip, “And I just screamed out! ‘Cause, no one knew I had prayed for that, right?! I screamed out like, 'Ahhh, praise God!!'"

“There was just so much hope inside that tiny little gesture,” said Caroline.

Over the next few days, Blake continued to improve, and doctors were able to remove the drains. He would spend the remainder of his 48-day hospital stay in therapy relearning how to walk and talk, and regaining his motor skills, a process that continued for months after he went home. By all reports, his progress was amazing!

“He should have had all kinds of delays and the fact that he can do everything that he can do now, it’s amazing and it’s nothing short of a miracle,” said Nurse Dynita Haislip.

Today there’s nothing holding Blake back. His family is grateful for the expert medical care, the prayers of people near and far, and the love of God.  

“I learned the power of praying in a way that says, “God, this is what I hope for.” But at the same time praying, “Thy will be done,” said Caroline.

Mark said, “I think that prayer is an attitude of life. It's welcoming Jesus and the Holy Spirit and God into your life at every moment.”

700 Club

Sudden Blindness and Sudden Kindness

Nombekumbeku used to love to sing and dance. Now she mainly sits in silence, because she is blind due to cataracts.

Nombekumbeku explained, “I lost my vision very suddenly. I was walking home and I fell. That’s when I knew I could no longer see. Everything around me is foggy now.  I can’t do anything for myself. I need to be accompanied even when I go to the bathroom, otherwise I get lost.”

Concerned for her mother’s well-being, her daughter moved back home to the Eastern Cape, South Africa, to look after her. 

“Not being able to see has taken away my joy,” said Nombekumbeku. “I used to be very lively and independent. I worked hard and never sat down. I grew food in my garden and cooked for myself. Now, my garden is dry and unattended. It pains me so much.” 

Then they heard about Grace Vision, a ministry supported in part by Operation Blessing, and reached out to us for help. Thanks to your generosity, she received her cataract surgery.

As her bandages were being removed, her daughter sat next to her in anticipation. Then Nombekumbeku looked at her and shouted in joy and disbelief, “Xezi, my daugther! Is this really you!?” She then said, “God is with me. He is walking with me!”

Nombekumbeku broke out into spontaneous dance as she thanked everyone around her for their help.

“I can see perfectly now. I am so relieved. I feel like myself again. I feel alive!” exclaimed Nombekumbeku. “You have unshackled me from my pain, and I am no longer a burden to anyone. I am healed and very happy, and it’s all thanks to you! ‘Thank you, Operation Blessing. Thank you so much.’”


700 Club

Letting Go of the World Proved Satisfying

Morgan shares, “My first thought was, I have cancer and I'm gonna die. And I was so scared. I was just crying.” Morgan Ross was just 21 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Morgan recalled, “So this thought was brought to my mind, and it was, if you are going to die from this, who would come to your funeral? Because what have you done to impact anybody? Or what have you done to impact this world in any way.”

Morgan had strayed far from her Christian upbringing. While she knew her mom and dad loved her, she felt their ‘rules’ were strict and confining. Morgan remembered, “I couldn't have my cell phone passed a certain time at night. I wasn't able to watch TV past a certain time. And I thought all this was really unfair. I often compared my life with my friends' lives, and they didn't have all these rules. At this point, I didn't really have a relationship with God. I most certainly believed in God and I believed in Jesus, but I didn't spend time with him.”

Morgan rebelled at 17, when she began hanging out with friends who would drink and party throughout the week. Morgan said, “Drinking gave me, I guess, confidence. I got a lot of attention and I really liked having all the attention and just going out and meeting new people.”

Morgan would spend the first three years after high school living at home, working odd jobs, and partying. Then at 21, she moved an hour away to attend Columbus State Community College. No longer under her parents’ oversight, she took her rebellion to another level: working at a bar and drinking even more. She also met a guy she was convinced she would one day marry. Her grades, relationships…everything in her life began falling apart.

Morgan recalled, “And as a result of my drinking, there were many areas of my life that were very chaotic. My roommates, I was getting in arguments with them. My relationship with my family wasn't great. I was very selfish.”

After one semester, Morgan dropped out of school. Now beginning to see the consequences of her choices, she began asking God for help. Morgan shared, “Lord, please help me to get out of this lifestyle that I'm living. I don't wanna live like this anymore. I just kind of sat there and this thought kind of come in my head and it was, how long will you continue to say the same prayer until something changes?”

Within two weeks, after excruciating pain in her lower abdomen, Morgan was in the hospital getting the news – ovarian cancer. Thankfully, they caught it early, but Morgan took it as a wake-up call.

Morgan said, “What have you done to impact this world in any way? And then God kind of just spoke to my heart and he was like, this is what this life is all about. And I realized in that moment how selfish I had been living which was all about me. And God was just telling me like, 'you are here to love and to help others.'”

Morgan moved back home after surgery and three months of chemotherapy. After being declared cancer free she began going to church, but Morgan's heart would continue to be divided between God and the man she’d thought she would marry.
Morgan recalled, “The idea of letting go of this relationship was really hard. I truly loved him. And he had been so supportive to me throughout my cancer diagnosis. And so I thought, 'Lord, I don't want to get out of this relationship. I don’t want to end this relationship. Can’t I just do it both?' I almost felt like, you know, a hypocrite, almost like I would live Monday through Thursday talking with the Lord and spending time with the Lord. And then on the weekend I was still making time for this boyfriend and doing the things that he wanted to do.”

After five years of living with a heart divided, Morgan had to make a choice. Morgan shared, “I remember just saying, just breaking down and just saying, 'Lord, I'm trying to live differently. I really am trying.' And that was a moment where the Lord was like, 'that is what surrender is, is realizing that you can't do it on your own.' So, it was at that point where my desires had changed and I no longer wanted to go out and drink. And I, I was able to, I was able to stay away from it. I didn't even have a desire to go out.”

Morgan began devoting more and more of her time to pursuing God until, finally, she had surrendered every area of her life to Christ, including her love life. She broke up with her boyfriend, and in October 2020 at 27 years old, Morgan was baptized. Morgan said, “It felt so good to not live this double lifestyle, to just be fully committed to the Lord, and just the joy and the peace that He gave me. And just knowing that God fulfills all these needs and these desires that I have in my heart, and I don’t need to search for it in drinking or being out. I just felt a sense of freedom.”

Today, Morgan is a registered nurse. She hopes one day to be married, this time to a man who shares and understands her love for God and his unfailing mercy and grace.

Morgans shared, “God is just so loving, and so forgiving, and so kind, and so patient. And I'm just so thankful that He never gave up on me. For those who are struggling in their relationship with the Lord, because maybe you are still caught up in that old life, you're living a double lifestyle, I would just encourage you to just continue to stay close to the Lord, just continue to pray, and He will make those changes in you. You just have to surrender it to Him.”

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