Willie Aames is a Christian now but just wait til you hear what it took the 80s star to get there!
In many ways, Willie Aames’ story of finding Christ is much like the Israelites wandering in the desert. It's a birth story of new beginnings, and new life as Willie chose to start over at the age of 47. He never imagined he would be where he is now if he hadn't chosen to trust and surrender his life to God.
It seems the enemy was destined to keep Willie imprisoned in chains of depression. He can remember always having low self-esteem, and he never saw himself as talented, handsome, or good enough.
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Willie’s raising played a part in his feeling this way. Even though his parents were atheists and they dabbled in the occult, Willie never thought anything of it. To him, it was normal to have psychics over for dinner. It was normal to have tarot card readings and to play with ouija boards.
"My family had a lot to do with occult activities. My grandmother liked to contact spirits and do what’s called spirit writing-have people ask questions and let the spirit take over and write for her and answer those. We went to a lot of psychics and tarot card readers. We had Ouija boards and played with them. I felt completely comfortable with all of it," he said.
Seeking Worth In The World
As Willie grew up, he continued to believe that he didn't matter. This is one of the reasons why he got into acting. It provided another way of getting the attention he so desperately craved.
Eventually, he became a star through shows like Charles In Charge and Eight Is Enough. By that time, he relied on drugs, alcohol, and being a star to quiet the demons plaguing his mind. By then he had hit the lowest point in his life. Because of his addictions, he lost everything. He found himself sleeping on the streets and eating rotten garbage to survive.
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"It was a very difficult time in my life. I’d just come off a hit series (“Eight Is Enough”) and lost everything. I was in trouble with the IRS. I was trying to get sober," he said. The only thing he could do was find a job that paid by the day working on dive boats to clean."
"And to me, the best thing that I could do was to go up north and get on the dive boats, work for $30 a day, scrub all the toilets I could, and do all the diving I could. It was a great place to hide out and lick my wounds, really," he said. "It wasn’t so much working for minimum wage. What was interesting to me, or what was the difficult thing about it, was having been famous and having people laugh at what really was a very honorable job–manual labor–and understanding that, had it been anybody else, nobody would have been laughing," he added.
Willie Aames Christian Testimony
It seems that God was giving him ample grace to figure out life and where Willie needed to put his trust.
Willie then worked his way up in the cruise industry and became a cruise director and eventually married his pen pal for over 30 years, Winnie Hung. As God helped Willie pick up the pieces to his life, he became hungry for God's word. And for the next seven years, he studied the Bible with an appetite that never seemed to be quenched. It was through this devotion to knowing God's word where God opened doors for Willie to become Bibleman. It wasn't something Willie wanted to do. But he continued to go where God led him because he wanted to honor God.
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"I had said I wanted to be obedient, and no matter how I tried to back away from that project, no matter how many times I said no, I kept coming back to the fact that perhaps this was something that God would want me to do because it was just being obedient and that maybe we could reach kids in a way that nobody else had-even though I didn’t want to do it."
For the next decade, he worked as Bibleman. But then he blew two discs in his neck while moving equipment for the show. He was then fired because he could no longer work.
"One thing that many people don’t know is that even though I created, wrote, produced, and directed everything and wrote all of the books, I never owned a piece of it. I still don’t own a piece of it. I was just kind of a hired gun and did things job by job. As soon as I was unable to do that, the job was given to somebody else."
Willie Aames Celebrity Fit Club Controversy
Once again God poured out his grace and mercy on Willie and helped him move past these seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Throughout this journey of trusting in our Savior, God planted seeds in Willie's heart to write a book, titled "Grace Is Enough."
But the book deal was almost terminated when unflattering footage of the actor for the show, Celebrity Fit Club was released. Willie had been working two different jobs. He was under immense pressure to get these projects done on top of the fact that his wife was suffering from another Lupus flare. Willie was overwhelmed, exhausted, and stretched way too thin. He had hit his breaking point and it was all captured on camera.
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What astonished him was how critical his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ were towards him. It floored Willie Aames at how the Christian community considered him a disappointment and no one gave him grace as a merely flawed human being.
"I was extremely blown away that anybody would care, in the first place. I was completely taken by surprise at the reaction-primarily from my Christian brothers and sisters in the community-where after ten years of solid service as Bibleman and [my] family sacrificing, it was suddenly all thrown away over two minutes worth of edited footage."
Grace Is Enough
In the midst of his character assassination, Willie continued to remember God's grace is more than enough, which sparked the idea to begin writing the book with his wife. He says, "I hope to get people to think about what it is that they say and do before they do it based on a few seconds of edited footage. That’s why we wrote Grace is Enough. We really need to extend more grace to one another."
We couldn't agree more. Grace is needed in all situations. We have no idea what someone else is struggling with. Nor do we understand the burdens they carry. But we can extend grace because it is more than enough like it has been for Willie. What an incredible story of love, second chances, redemption, and amazing grace.
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"But he said to me, "‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me," 2 Corinthians 12:9.
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