The music blared, the smell of marijuana lingered and everyone was drinking excessively at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity’s Mountain Weekend party. Drink in hand, 21-year-old Ainsley Earhardt knew there was more to life.
“I remember just looking around and saying, ‘I am so sick of this, God. This is what You’re trying to rescue me from, and I want to follow You. I don’t want to live this life anymore,” she said.
She walked outside and sat on the steps of the mountain house and cried. As the snow fell around her on that October night in 1997 and the sounds of the party faded, she said, “God, I don’t know how to say this prayer, but I want You to come into my life, change my life and help me to live for You.”
A native of Spartanburg, S.C., Ainsley grew up with her older sister and younger brother in a traditional, middle-class American family. Her mother was a school teacher, and her father coached basketball for a local college until he accepted a job in sales and moved the family first to Charlotte, N.C., and then to Columbia, S.C., when Ainsley was entering fourth grade.
It didn’t take long for her to make friends and for Columbia to feel like home.
Soon enough, high school graduation arrived and Ainsley was off to Florida State University to pursue orthodontics. Two years into her schooling, she grew homesick and started to doubt the career path she was pursuing. During spring break, she had gone on a mission trip with Campus Crusade, an on-campus ministry, to New York, and though she didn’t have much free time, she’d made it a priority to visit NBC’s Today show. Carrying her handmade pink poster board sign, Ainsley jumped up and down when the cameras pointed at her. This marked the beginning of her interest in broadcasting, and shortly afterward she transferred to the University of South Carolina and changed her major to journalism. She knew that meant starting over and making new friends, but she was not deterred.
“One thing that stood out about Ainsley probably more than anything else is she had a lot of friends because she always was a great listener,” said her father, Wayne. “Ainsley seemed to never meet a stranger. She was a friend to everybody.”
Almost immediately she become involved on the South Carolina campus, especially in the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. About half of her sorority sisters were strong Christians, and many of them went to church and were involved in Bible studies.
“I started going to church with them and I would go to Bible study but yet still go to the bars at night,” Ainsley said. “I was doing that so much; I got so sick of it.” It was during this time that she started hearing more about having a relationship with Christ. She had grown up in a Christian home, but she realized this aspect of Christianity was missing from her life.
As her hunger for God grew, her desire for the things of the world began to fizzle. Soon she and a few friends decided to do a Bible study together. Her friend Chuck Jenkins suggested the 13-week study Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby.
Chuck had given his life to Jesus Christ the year before he and Ainsley met. The man who led him to Christ recommended he read Experiencing God.
“I just simply told Ainsley what I was doing and what I had experienced and she, like the sponge that she is, followed suit and started going through the same book,” he said.
That study changed her life.
“I started to want more and more, and I started realizing that God was blessing me and blessing me and blessing me, filling this void that I had in my heart,” she said.
“Chuck was a big influence in helping me get to where I was going and helping me find my setting into really having a relationship with Christ,” she said. “Because of God, someone poured into Chuck’s life and then Chuck poured into my life. That’s why it’s important for all of us to try to live our lives in a righteous way, so that others can see Christ in us, so that their life can change.”
Halfway through the Experiencing God study, during the Mountain Weekend party, Ainsley surrendered her life to Christ. And she never looked back.
“Her priorities changed,” said longtime friend Cindy Parker. Her relationship with Christ, “that’s what came first in her life, and she wanted to surround herself with people who thought the same way. She just seemed to have a peace about her. She had this happiness that came from inside.”
Since that October night at the Mountain Weekend frat party, Ainsley has lived for the Lord. Amid career upsets, a heartbreaking divorce, a painful miscarriage and other trying times, her life and career remain anchored in her faith in Jesus Christ.
Each morning, hundreds of thousands of people all over America wake up and turn on Fox News to see Ainsley and her co-hosts hard at work to keep Fox & Friends viewers up-to-date on news occurring around the world. As a Christ follower, Ainsley takes seriously the platform she’s been given.
“You’re on a national stage all the time, and you want to be the best Christian that you can be,” she said. “But there is a lot of pressure. It’s go-go-go. You’re always on, and you have to make sure that everything that comes out of your mouth is holy and pleasing to the Lord. So, my goal is to be the best person I can be, and hopefully that translates on television.”
She knows she can’t please everyone and has learned to just be herself.
“She’s got this genuine disposition about her that’s always been there,” Chuck said. “And even with her success professionally, it’s nice to see that hasn’t left her. She’s very, very bold and even if it means she’ll be criticized professionally, it definitely doesn’t stop her.”
She’s certainly not afraid to discuss her faith, her father said. “I’m just very proud of the fact that she’s a strong Christian person and isn’t afraid to express her views and thoughts in regard to that.”
To build her faith and better equip herself for the job at hand, Ainsley hosts a Bible study for women in the television industry at her home in New York. “I do need this oasis, and I love it when the girls come over,” she said. “I’m so thankful that it’s in my apartment because I just feel like a part of South Carolina … is here in New York, and we’re all experiencing it together.”
No subjects are off limits. “If there’s something that’s bothering us in our personal lives or at work or anything, we can bring it to the table and discuss it and find Scripture that backs it up. … If we have questions about how we handle certain situations or news stories, we discuss it as a group, and that’s been extremely helpful to me.”
Her husband, Will, and their 2-year-old daughter, Hayden, also strengthen her faith. When she became a mom, her view of her relationship with God changed. “It made me realize even more how much He loves us,” Ainsley said, “and how much He has sacrificed for us.”
With such a strong community of family and friends to encourage and challenge her, Ainsley is confident in who she is and why God has put her on this earth: “To spread His love, to tell people about Him, to live for Him, to help other people and to try and make a difference in this world.”
As she has gotten older, she has learned to try not to question God, but to simply enjoy the ride. “And if things don’t go my way, there’s a reason,” she said. “It’s much easier to live your life when you know that you aren’t necessarily going to understand everything. That’s what faith is.”
No matter what life brings, she clings to the truth of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
“He wants us to come to Him,” she says. “He wants us to embrace Him, and He wants us to reach out and ask Him for help. He has our best interests in mind, and He’s not going to harm us. … So, that gives me hope.” ©2018 BGEA
The Scripture quotation is taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version.