Reality TV comes in all shapes and sizes; from singles looking for love to singers searching for a career, and pawn shop owners making a deal to duck call makers out on a hunt. It seems the norm for people to watch others live out their lives in front of the camera for the entire world to see.
The Duggars are no exception. They caught the eye of TV producers and in 2004 made their debut in the documentary, “14 Children and Pregnant Again!” Today, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have 19 kids featured on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” and the world is counting.
We had an opportunity to ask this large, Christian family some questions about their faith and their family.
BGEA: In your blog, you talk about how the younger children participate in book-signing events. How do they feel about the attention that they receive from fans of “19 Kids”?
Michelle: Our whole family loves meeting new people at book signings and at other events. I don’t think our little ones really comprehend why people we don’t know come up to us and talk to us as if they know us!
One time for instance, I had taken 5-year-old Jackson to the grocery store with me. A very sweet lady came up to us and started visiting. She made the comment to Jackson, “Jackson, my how you have grown! You are getting so big!” As the kind woman walked on to do her shopping Jackson whispered in my ear, “Wow, how did she know my name!” It’s quite comical sometimes!
(We don’t watch broadcast T.V. in our home so the little ones don’t understand how others know about us but we don’t know about them!) Of course our viewers feel like they know all about our family because they have watched almost every major event in our lives on TV for the past 9 years.
BGEA: Do you have any memories or stories of Billy Graham’s presentation of God’s Word that had an impact on your life?
Jim Bob: Many times when I was growing up, we watched the Billy Graham Crusades on TV. In high school I had the opportunity to attend a Crusade. It was incredible to see how God worked in the hearts of people thru Billy Graham’s message. Recently at a conference I had two different people share with me that they were saved through Billy Graham’s ministry and now they are both serving the Lord. His ministry is still impacting the world daily through thousands of converts who are, in turn, ministering to others.
BGEA: Tell us about your ministry and how you carry out the Great Commission.
Michelle: Our family has a heart to share the gospel one on one, at churches and conferences, and through the media. A lot of people have been drawn to our family because of having 19 children and that has given a platform to share Biblical principles with people around the world.
BGEA: What is your favorite “God moment”?
Jim Bob: Throughout high school I told God I did not want to play the dating game, but asked him to bring the one He had for me in His timing. One evening I went out on church visitation with a friend and we had three cards of people to go see. We went to all three houses and no one was home. We stopped at the side of the road and prayed about whom we should visit. My friend said he knew a girl that just became a Christian and she was a cheerleader. I said, “Let’s go see her!” My friend just happened to know where she lived. We drove over, knocked the door, and the most beautiful girl I had met came to the door! (It was Michelle). That night I asked God if He would let me become her spiritual leader and that she could be mine! God supernaturally answered my prayer and brought us together. I thank the Lord for my wonderful wife!
BGEA: Do you have a family verse?
Jim Bob: Romans 8:28 — One of the fundamental truths in the Christian life is to realize as we are seeking God, He promises to work ALL things together for good. This means we need to learn to thank God for everything that happens in our lives, good or bad, because in the end everything will work out for our good.
BGEA: What is the greatest takeaway you hope people gain from reading one of your books, watching “19 Kids” or experiencing another form of your family’s ministry?
Jim Bob: We hope as people watch our lives that they will see we are just normal people, who struggle everyday raising 19 Kids & counting. But our prayer is that people who see us on TV or read our books will be challenged to examine their own lives and realize that we each need a close relationship with God.
BGEA: What one question do you wish you knew the answer to?
Michelle: How many thousands of diapers we have changed over the years.
BGEA: What can fans look forward to from the Duggars in the future?
Michelle: We are just starting to film the next season. With our third grandchild due any day, Josh and Anna moving to serve at a ministry in D.C., and our family going on many adventures, it is going to be very exciting!
BGEA: What is something that people might not know about you and your family that you would like them to?
Jim Bob: Our prayer is that others would realize that we are ordinary people with our individual weaknesses and imperfections, but we serve an extraordinary God who delights in demonstrating His great power! “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you for My strength is made perfect in weakness, most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:9) Our hope is that others will find strength and encouragement from HIM who is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask…”
The Duggar family will be at the Billy Graham Library on Saturday, June 8 signing copies of their New York Times best-selling book “A Love That Multiplies” from 2-4 p.m. For additional details visit www.billygrahamlibrary.org.