Giving Up a ‘Wild Life’ to Fulfill a Greater Calling

By   •   September 20, 2016

Volunteers with BGEA's TV Telephone Ministry respond to calls from people who have spiritual questions.

Where do you turn when you’re facing hardship or have questions about God? Would you pick up the phone and call someone? That’s what thousands do each year as they watch Billy Graham Classics on TV and see a number on the screen to call with questions. They’re connected to one of BGEA’s trained TV Telephone (TVTM) volunteers who are spread across the country and ready to listen.

Here, former volunteer Nancy Jones shares her own God story and how TVTM deepened her faith.

A Wild Life and a Country Church

“There were many years where I lived a wild and flagrant life.”

Early in her life, Nancy Jones investigated various religions, got married four times and left the fifth would-be husband at the altar.

Nancy Jones went from a “wild life” to talking to countless people about Jesus over the phone.

Her lifestyle took a drastic turn after visiting a small country church in Maine.

The church was just around the corner from Nancy’s house, and as she walked by it one summer day, she noticed a sign out front about a Bible study.

It hadn’t been long since Nancy ordered a book she saw on TV, not realizing the book was about the Gospel of John. The book had piqued her interest, so when she saw the church sign about an upcoming Wednesday Bible study, she decided to check it out.

That Wednesday, as she waited on the church porch, no one came.

“That ticked me off,” Nancy said, resolving to come back that Sunday and “give somebody a piece of my mind.”

But when she showed up four days later, ready to vent, she found something unexpected.

Not only was there lots of music—”I love music,” she said—but the pastor’s message was on John 4, the woman at the well, who’d had five husbands but didn’t have the Savior she needed.

Nancy melted into tears and made her way to the front of the small church, right in front of the pastor who wore cowboy boots and a vest. It was there she began a life with Jesus Christ. (And later that day found out the Bible study advertised was for the fall.)

Finding Her ‘Call’

Now 69, Nancy is a retired bookkeeper who spent 15 years in full-time ministry. She started volunteering with BGEA in 2004, working out of a call center in Asheville, North Carolina.

Nancy had tragically lost a daughter to suicide that August, and on top of that had been battling laryngitis for months. Normally in the fall, she’d be getting ready for the cantata at church, but not this time.

Knowing what she was going through, a friend at church told her about BGEA’s TV Telephone Ministry (TVTM).

“I couldn’t sing, but I could talk on the phone for some strange reason,” Nancy remembers.

She ended up volunteering with the ministry for six years until a new job minimized her free time, but she briefly returned in 2015 when she had a chance.

After all she’d been through and all the years witnessing Jesus’ impact on her life, she said, “It was just a joy for me to talk to people about Christ.”

Not all calls were easy, she added, but she did have an advantage since the people calling in were already being moved by the Holy Spirit.

‘Our Miracle Call’

Months into volunteering, Nancy was in the Asheville call center one evening, serving as supervisor. As she walked by a row of desk phones, a phone started ringing.

Now depending on the number of volunteers available per shift, a certain number of phones would be turned on to answer incoming calls. But with no one sitting at that particular phone, it wasn’t turned on in the system.

Yet there it was—ringing.

“Somehow, the person on the other end dialed the telephone number of that particular phone,” Nancy said. “It was our miracle call.”

And she was the closest to it.

“This is Nancy. How can I help you?” she said, picking up.

A woman was in tears on the other line, torn up about her daughter’s suicide a couple of days before. It had been less than a year since the death of Nancy’s own daughter under similar circumstances. She sat and listened as the woman sobbed, full of raw emotion.

Nancy talked to the woman as a fellow mother, sharing Bible verses that were helping her cope with the grief of her daughter’s death just months earlier. She was also getting a larger sense of God’s hand in it all.

“The Lord never gives us anything to handle that we won’t be called on to use in the future for His glory,” she said.

A Deeper Faith

Nancy lives in Idaho now and doesn’t have a TVTM call center nearby, but said her time with the ministry “deepened my faith greatly.” She served on the TVTM staff from February 2005 to November 2010.

“The Word of God is so powerful,” she said, thinking back to all the times she witnessed people’s lives being changed by it. “It’s about understanding the depth of God’s love for me and for you. … It gives people hope.”

TVTM comes alongside them as many face their toughest times.

“It was such a joy in my life, even when I was only listening to other [volunteers],” Nancy said. “Each and every Christian is called to share their faith. … There is no easier way than to answer a telephone where the Spirit has already prepared the person on the other end.”

Learn how to volunteer with BGEA’s TV Telephone Ministry.

Two TVTM volunteers share stories from over 20 years of ministry.