'I…Found Jesus': Famed TV Host Julie Chen Moonves Reveals How Faith, Forgiveness Have Transformed Her Life
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Longtime “Big Brother” host Julie Chen Moonves is known for her successful TV career, but she’s also making headlines this month for another reason: her Christian faith.
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Moonves released “But First, God: An Audio Memoir of Spiritual Discovery” earlier this month, a project rooted in her personal faith discovery.
“When I finally found Jesus in 2018, I had never owned a Bible,” she told CBN Digital. “And I was gifted one from a friend who was one of my favorite cameramen working in TV news.”
That cameraman, who later became a pastor, helped Moonves on her journey to faith as she dove into the Bible and began to discover truth for the very first time.
“I found it very daunting and intimidating, and very big, and I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to listen to an audio version of the Bible,'” she recalled. “And the only one I could find was a King James Version that sounded like I was … listening to Shakespeare.”
Moonves, who had previously written a children’s book, called Simon & Schuster, and offered to read the New International Version of the Bible for free. She thought the project would help her navigate the Bible while providing an easier-to-understand version.
To her surprise, the publisher instead offered her a chance to talk about her faith journey through an audio memoir. And that’s how “But First, God” was born.
It’s a lens into Moonves’ journey of discovery after the successful host essentially spent 48 years ignoring the Lord.
Watch her tell her story:
Growing up, Moonves’ mother had converted to Catholicism, though the family didn’t attend church, and she was free to choose her faith for herself. In the end, she opted not to place much emphasis on belief.
“I was so focused on this world, and I didn’t acknowledge that there was any other world beyond the world that we live in,” she said of her years before becoming a Christian. “I was very focused on my false idol then, which was work, my career, my job, and that’s who I was, and any blessing that came my way, I thought that it was something that I did to earn it and that I deserved it.”
Moonves added, “I was just never thinking about God.”
But all that changed in 2018, when she received that Bible and, amid life struggles, started thinking deeper about the Lord. Moonves said she tried out different churches on Sunday mornings and eventually landed at a Presbyterian house of worship.
“I found the sermons very easy to understand,” she said. “And then it started with Bible study classes. It started with YouTube videos from a wonderful Bible teacher.”
When the pandemic hit, Moonves started reading devotionals from Billy Graham, and soon integrated prayer into the journey — something that grew and progressed as she further developed her faith.
“In the beginning, my prayer sounded like a ‘Dear Santa’ letter,” Moonves said. “Asking for things instead of thanking for things. … But I would say, really, two years into it, when the pandemic hit and I was at home all day, that’s when I had the time to really dedicate to delving into the Word.”
In addition to Bible studies, she said her mother moved in with her after her father died, and they started studying Scripture together. This experience further guided her along and helped solidify her journey.
“That’s when I really start to understand who God is, and who I am, and why I’m here, and how He has blessed me all my life while I was ignoring Him,” Moonves said. “[God gave me this] career so that I could get to where I am today to use any and every platform, being a public figure, and declaring … Jesus, my Lord and savior.”
This is the very mission the “Big Brother” host finds herself on today, as she’s embraced forgiveness and keeps looking ahead to what matters most: sharing her faith.
“One of the big things I learned is: if you do not declare publicly … who He is to you or what He has done for you, why should He go before God the Father when … my time is up here on Earth?” she said. “So, I have to stand firm, and say it loud, and say it proud, what He has done for me and who He is.”
While Hollywood might “not be the most inviting space” for living out this dynamic, Moonves said she has been pleasantly surprised to see how supportive and excited many have been for her.
Moonves also spoke about her decision to let go of anger and embrace forgiveness, especially after she said she was pushed out of her position with “The Talk,” a daily talk show.
“It’s been very freeing for me,” she said. “When I didn’t know the power of forgiveness, me sitting in the corner like stewing with anger, eating away at my heart. It’s not hurting anybody except for myself. It’s not productive, and it’s not healthy.”
Watch Moonves tell the full story here.
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