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Kathie Lee Gifford says ‘Church has failed nonbelievers,’ feels called to share faith through film

Kathie Lee Gifford says ‘Church has failed nonbelievers,’ feels called to share faith through film

Kathie Lee Gifford writes, stars in new Rom-Com ‘Then Came You,’ 2020 | Vertical Entertainment

Emmy award-winning entertainer Kathie Lee Gifford is gearing up for the release of her new film, “Then Came You,” part one of what she said is a five-part film series on the power of redemption. The outspoken Christian said she feels the Lord has called her to reach nonbelievers.

The Vertical Entertainment film had a one-night showing nationwide via Fathom Events on Sept. 30 and will be released on-demand and digital on Oct. 2. Starring, produced, and co-written by Gifford, the lighthearted film is a romance story at heart that journeys through grief and self-discovery. 

“Then Came You” follows a “lonely widow (Gifford) who plans a trip around the world with her late husband's ashes, intending on visiting all the places from their favorite movies. During her first stop in Scotland, she meets the innkeeper (played by comedian and tv host, Craig Ferguson) of the Bed & Breakfast she's staying in who ends up changing her life forever,” the film’s synopsis reads.

The film features slight profanity and suggestive content but the former co-host of the fourth hour of “TODAY,” alongside Hoda Kotb, said the movie is one part of a much larger story of transformation and finding faith. 

Gifford, who like the character of the movie lost her husband in recent years, hopes the film will impact anyone who feels trapped in grief and is looking for another shot to live out their God-given passions and dreams. The following is an edited transcript of The Christian Post’s interview with Gifford.

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Christian Post: You've said that your life inspires everything that you do and you often speak about how much you love Jesus. For the Christian audience, for those that want to know what they can look forward to in the film, what would you say to them?

Gifford: I hope people aren't disappointed that this is not your typical, this is not a faith-based film, in the terms that it's different than anything I've ever done before. But I felt the Lord's calling on my life to write a movie for people who don't know yet that God loves them. I didn't know why I thought that was a strange thing for Him to say to my heart. But I have many, many, many friends, more nonbeliever friends than I have Christian friends actually in my life, people that I share my faith with and they respect it, but they're not there yet.

I think the Church has failed nonbelievers in many, many ways through the years and one of the biggest ones is that we haven't loved them into the Kingdom. We have created an atmosphere of self-righteousness at times and an attitude of condemnation towards them. I don't think that's what Jesus ever planned; we're supposed to love people like Annabel and Howard (characters in the film), and just be a witness to them. 

I've written this movie but it's the first of five that I have mapped out. In this movie, it's a story of total redemption [and] as redemption often is, it takes a long time. I didn't want some packed kind of religious movie because I'm not a religious person. I'm not. I love Jesus. I'm a faith-filled person but I'm not comfortable around religiosity at all. From reading Scripture, Jesus wasn't either. The only time He got angry was at the religious people, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. So I just love Annabel and Howard and they're just two people doing the best they know how to do under tough circumstances. We're supposed to love those people, not judge them.

CP: There's a powerful quote in the film that says, "Make new memories or the old ones will kill you." 2020 has given everyone something that they have to live past. Can you share some advice for anyone that is facing grief on how not to get stuck in that place but rather keep living despite the grief? 

Gifford: If you live long enough you're going to experience that kind of loss in life and that kind of grief. For me, "losing" my husband. There's a line in "He Saw Jesus" that says, "No, I didn't lose him/I know right where he is/He was never really mine/He was always His." So as believers, that's why I could hold my dead husband in my arms and rejoice. I knew where he was. It was not a tragedy, it was a triumph of eternal life. But Annabel in the movie doesn't have that. She doesn't have a personal walk with the Lord yet. So she deals with her grief by running and she makes a decision to turn away from all that she knew. She had some sense that the future could be better. She got back in touch with her initial dreams. 

I have a little book coming out the same time as the movie pretty much, middle of October, called Hello Little Dreamer. It's all about how the dreams that we have in our early lives as children were already there made and formed wonderfully in that secret place that David talks about in the Psalms. Those dreams are of God. Annabel wanted to be an actress and wanted to be a singer and never had a chance for her dreams to come true and that's true of most people. It's rare that anybody's childhood dreams, they just, boom, they're there. She was smart, she applied her longings in life, even though she was grief-stricken. Everything she knew was Nantucket, and one man and a hardware store but he left directions for her of what he wanted her to do after he died whenever he did. She did what he asked and then she figured out a plan and then she went on a journey. 

That line — "I love you but I got to make new memories, or the old ones are going to kill me" — that came from a place even before I moved to Nashville. I knew that if I stayed in my home in Connecticut, it's the most beautiful home I've ever seen in my life and it's filled with a gazillion wonderful memories of my husband, and our children and our dogs and our friends and music and everything. But when nobody's there but me, it's more like a morgue, echoes of the past, echoes of you hear children laughing but my children aren't there. You hear your dogs barking but those dogs are buried in your garden. That's not healthy! I knew I had to make a huge move and leave New York and move to Nashville, Tennessee, where the Lord led me into a spacious place. I'm in a much smaller house but I'm in a spacious place now of fellowship with Christians here. This place, God is alive and well everywhere but He's worshipped here. There's a creative community, the people that I'm writing with now are off the charts brilliant. 

We all have our own ways but hope is so important in a person's life. When we lose it, there's nothing left to live for, is there? 

Watch CP’s interview with Gifford below:

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