How God Used Billy Graham to Influence Fixer Upper Family

By   •   November 30, 2015

Chip and Joanna Gaines
Chip and Joanna Gaines married in 2003. Millions of people watch their hit show "Fixer Upper." Chip and Joanna talked to BGEA about the faith that defines them. (Photo courtesy: Magnolia Homes)

Editor’s Note: The third season of the hit show Fixer Upper premieres Tuesday, Dec. 1. Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of the show, talked with BGEA a few weeks ago about their faith, and Chip explained how Billy Graham had an impact on his family’s faith in Christ. This article was originally published Oct. 29, 2015.

Since it first aired last year, popular home improvement show Fixer Upper has garnered more than 24 million viewers, making it one of the highest-rated shows of its kind.

As a result, husband-wife duo Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of the show, have cultivated quite the following.

Chip’s sense of humor and Joanna’s impeccable eye for design are what attract this following.

Chip and Joanna Gaines
Chip and Joanna discuss a renovation on an episode of ‘Fixer Upper.’ Photo credit: (Wacoan of the Year).

But the true foundation beneath each home they build or renovate is their faith.

Chip’s faith journey can actually be traced back to a Billy Graham Crusade the year after he was born.

“The impact that man has had on my life is immeasurable,” Chip said.

In 1975, his mother, Gayle, attended a Billy Graham Crusade in Albuquerque. Rededicating her life to the Lord, Gayle was changed that night, and Billy Graham’s impact on her would cascade down to the rest of the family.

“His simple sermons brought people from all denominations and churches; whenever they extended an invitation to believe, attendees would swarm to the front,” Chip said.

“Even though my mom had been baptized at the age of 8, she decided to go forward to answer the invitation to believe. My parents made attending church a priority, (which) strengthened their marriage, and they involved themselves in a young couple’s Sunday school class. In the 1990s my mom worked at Word Publishing, which published books for Billy Graham. She found continued encouragement in his writing.”

While Billy Graham set the spiritual trajectory of Chip’s life, it was another Graham family member who personally mentored him in living out his faith: Danny Lotz, Billy Graham’s late son-in-law.

As a young man, Chip—who attended Baylor University, as did Lotz’s three children—spent a week in the home of Danny and Anne Graham Lotz.

“He wasn’t a pastor, but he was influential in showing me how to live out my faith, even in a secular environment,” Chip said. “He impacted my life by spurring me to shape my choices with my faith and to walk in my faith regardless of my ‘calling.’

“He challenged me to process what God was doing in my life and train my mind with God’s truth. I learned so much from him, and he always spoke so highly of (Billy Graham), who he said talked the talk and walked the walk. So, to this day I think about talking the talk and walking the walk because of Billy Graham and Danny Lotz.”

Faith-Building Obedience

Some years after his time with Danny Lotz, Chip married Joanna and they were expecting their second child when they sensed God asking them to close Magnolia Market—the home furnishings store they opened together—to focus on raising their children.

Joanna Gaines and customer
Joanna greets a shopper at their reopened Magnolia Market. Photo credit: Magnolia Homes.

Joanna remembers feeling as though her dream was dying as they closed up shop on the last day.

But more vividly than her sadness, she remembers the peace she felt when God reminded her—on that day—to simply trust Him with her dreams, and with Magnolia Market.

“God taught me to study the Word and believe it, even when it hadn’t been fulfilled yet. I really had to cultivate a place of faith that I never had before. I had to trust Him as He would speak His promise to me,” she explained.

“This trust brought peace, although my circumstance hadn’t yet reflected his promise. His Word doesn’t return void, and God was working in my heart to establish deeper levels of trust that I now look back on and am thankful for.”

Some time later, a production company heard about the Gaineses’ home renovation business and Joanna’s background in design—and the rest is history.

And most importantly, God taught them to trust Him with everything—and to make Him their everything.

“Our family has made a commitment to put Christ first, a lifestyle our parents modeled for us very well. They showed us how to keep our marriage and family centered around God,” Chip said.

“As for Fixer Upper, we have been surprised at the impact of our faith through the show. We haven’t been overtly evangelical, but the rich feedback we have received on family and love all source from our faith. Jesus said the world would know His disciples by their love for one another, and we’ve glimpsed this in practice and strive for it every day.”

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  1. Paul Tucker says:

    Love you-all. (I can say you all cause o be from the south) keep walking the walk and talking the talk. God bless you as you are used of G-d.

  2. Debbie Lundquist says:

    Thank you Chip and Joanna for being such wondrous servants of the Lord in your ministry of Fixer Upper and Magnolia Farm. In these days of so much dissension in the world, it is so refreshing and inspiring to tune in on your fabulous show and see how you are transforming lives of people everywhere…through being the hands and feet of Jesus in fixing homes up – for one family at a time..,and also in leaving footprints
    of Jesus in the hearts of people everywhere in the joy and laughter, and inspiration you bring to the world as we eagerly watch your handiwork and talents come to life on every show! What a gift you are to all of us! God bless you and your wonderful family always!

  3. Leasine Ozorkiewicz says:

    This page is so encouraging to me at this time. I love their show. To know they are Christians and that they go through life with tough decisions, which Christ allows, and how she said ” God taught me to study the word and believe it, even when it hadn’t been fulfilled yet, and, had to cultivate a place of faith that I never had before, to trust Him as He would speak His Promise to me,
    LOVE IT! Next paragraph too. God bless you sweet family.

  4. Donna Spence says:

    For some odd reason I have been watching this show. At first, it was all about the transformation of the old, run down, and useless houses. I have come to understand through this lead by faith couple that God is using them in a mighty way. I’m thankful for them, their skill, and ministry. I trust and believe God will change my circumstance and will continue to life me and my family up. Thank you Chip and Joanna Gaines, much love.

  5. Donna says:

    Love your show. You are both so positive and uplifting. Now I know why! May God continue to bless you and keep you and your family.

  6. jan christie says:

    why does God do for some and not for others? I love this couple but I has dreams too

    1. BGEA says:

      Jan, God loves each of us and cares for everyone. Romans 2:11 says “God does not show favoritism.” He also has a plan for every person. He can use us to do great things, despite our circumstances. We might not understand why our situation has to be different from someone else’s, but know that God is in control and can use even our difficult circumstances to bring about good. The Bible is full of stories about regular people—from all kinds of backgrounds—who God used in mighty ways. He has not forgotten anyone.

      If you’d like some encouragement about finding God’s will for your life, you might check out this short article:

  7. Mary Spaller says:

    What a wonderful testimony!

  8. Barb says:

    My husband accepted Jesus as his Savior after attending the 1970’s Kansas City Billy Graham crusade. PTL!! Thank you for your show on HGTV! My favorite!! God bless you for living out your faith. Once heard that faith enables the power of God. That is certainly evident in your testimony.

    1. Mary Spaller says:

      What a wonderful testimony

  9. says:

    Since I was a child and we heard Billy on the radio. My Dad born 1901 ….we had a radio in the barn also..went to Omaha when I was 23 and helped in Crusade in Fargo. Now Direct TV can watch. Praise God for Billy…keep it going family. Live on…

  10. Tom Huebner says:

    Thank-you for the show. I enjoy watching it. I heard on K love radio station about , how much they like the show. They wounderd if Jo and Chip lissen to K love. That made me wonder are they Christians. I was happy to find that they our. My gift from the Lord is witnessing. Love Billy Gram outreach to all.