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Monday, September 19, 2011

Actress Nancy Stafford, a True Ambassador for Christ in the Entertainment Industry
She is honored with this year’s Ambassador’s Award at the MFI Thirteenth Annual Praise Brunch in Beverly Hills

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (ANS) -- Nancy Stafford has been an actress for twenty-five years, starring in numerous movies and TV series, including five years as Andy Griffith's law partner, Michelle, on “Matlock”, and three years on the Emmy-award winning “St Elsewhere”. She also starred in the ABC series “Sidekicks”, and began her television acting career as a regular in a dual role on the NBC daytime drama “The Doctors”.

Bob Rieth about to present Nancy Stafford with this year's MFI Ambassador's Award
(Photo: Dan Wooding)

She co-stars with Ted McGinley, Daniel Baldwin, and comedian Brad Stine in her latest film, “Christmas with a Capital C”, available on DVD in November 2011.

She has been a guest star on numerous shows, with recent appearances on “The Mentalist”, “Judging Amy”, and “ER”, starred in several TV movies, including “Moment of Truth: A Child Too Many” and “Deadly Invasion”, and co-stars with Randy Travis in the feature film “The Wager”. She’s also been the 'voice' in numerous projects-- from Mattel video games to PBS documentaries.

Now Nancy Stafford has been honored at MFI Thirteenth Annual Praise Brunch held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Saturday, September 17, 2011, with the Ambassador’s Award for her witness for Christ in the entertainment industry.

It was presented at the star-studded event by MFI President, Pastor Bob Rieth.

After she received her award, I talked with Nancy, a former Miss Florida in the Miss America Pageant, and I began by asking her how she felt after being honored by her peers in this way.

Nancy Stafford with Andy Griffith on the set of 'Matlock'

“I feel overwhelmed,” she began. “We’re all ambassadors and so I don’t know why I was singled out, but I so appreciate it. We all have the opportunity to bring the light of the Lord into every place that he positions us in and that’s a mandate for everybody.”

She then spoke about her faith.

“I actually came to faith after I started my career, but I was a lapsed Christian for many, many years,” said Stafford.

So what happened?

“I’d become a seeker and I was seeking all the world religions looking for answers and I was a student of Buddhism and Hinduism and Rosicrucianism and the whole new age gamut,” she said. “I was reading my Bible at the same time too. And one day I was shooting an episode of ;Magnum P.I.' in Hawaii back in 1984 and I had brought my Bible with me and I had this incredible encounter with the living Lord. So right there on a beach in Hawaii, I went rushing into the arms of the one who’s been rushing after me all these years.”

What were the repercussions then?

“It certainly began to radically change the roles that I chose and how I conducted myself in the workplace,” she explained. “I began to pray about whether or not to take certain roles. As with all of us, when Christ is really the one informing us of our choices, you may not rise to quite the heights because you know it’s harder to say yes to projects that are anathema to our faith, so I turned down an awful lot of work over the years.”

When I asked her about "Christmas with a Capital C," she explained, “It is about putting our feet to faith and how we can, instead of just fighting for our rights as believers, we can start being the hands and feet of Jesus in the community.”

Besides her movie work, Nancy Stafford told me that she is also throwing her enthusiasm behind various Christian projects, and off the screen she now serves on the US Board of SAT-7, a Christian Satellite television network with programming developed and produced by and for Christians in the Middle East and North Africa. Each week 9 million people watch SAT-7, broadcasting 24/7 on three channels in Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi languages.

She said that her longstanding interest and love for the Middle East led her to visit Egypt, Lebanon, and Cyprus, and host “Partnering for the Impossible” about SAT-7 satellite television’s impact in the Arab world.

She has also visited Israel where she filmed the TV specials “Where Heaven and Earth Meet”, “On Wings of Eagles”, and “Operation Isaiah 58”.

Nancy also serves on the Biola University Studio Task Force – a network of 250 entertainment industry professionals who are dedicated to investing in the next generation of writers, directors, producers, actors and crew. Besides this, she serves on Advisory Boards for The Dove Foundation and Westside Pregnancy Resource Center, and is a frequent speaker and faculty member at media events nationwide.

Nancy pictured with her husband, Larry Myers
(Photo: Dan Wooding)

Nancy was accompanied to Saturday’s MFI event by her husband, Larry Myers, to whom she has been married for 24 years. Larry is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, and has been a pastor and worship leader since 1975 when he helped establish the original Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Subsequently he has helped establish three other churches in the Los Angeles area.

The focus of Larry's ministry has been teaching, counseling, and the pastoral care of artists and musicians. He was a member of the Chuck Girard Band from 1975-80, and as a concert musician appeared with Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake and Palmer), Bernie Leadon (Eagles), Chris Hillman (Byrds), T-Bone Burnett and many others. He has recorded with numerous artists including Bob Dylan, Johnny Rivers, Chuck Girard, Anne Herring, Kevin Prosch, David Ruis, Andy Park. In addition, he has appeared frequently on the Vineyard worship series “Touching the Father's Heart”.

With that Nancy Stafford, a great ambassador for Christ, and Larry, were off to chat with their many friends.

Note: I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.

Dan Wooding, 70, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 48 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He now hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on KWVE in Southern California which is also carried throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK and also in Belize and South Africa. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 200 countries. You can follow Dan on Facebook under his name there or at ASSIST News Service. He is the author of some 44 books. Two of the latest include his autobiography, “From Tabloid to Truth”, which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, press this link. Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel “Red Dagger” which is available this link.

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