Archive for September, 2008

Sep 20 2008

Samantha Landy, a Christian with two exciting new missions

Published by pointnorth under Interviews

In a recent communication with Rhonda Fleming, she put us on to a fascinating Christian whom we immediately knew we wanted to get in touch with. Rhonda’s friend, Samantha Landy, has given us an insight into a ministry neglected by too many churches and society in general. This ministry involves the fastest growing group in America, people over fifty.

Ed.: You have an outstanding resume as a Christian author, speaker, TV host and business woman. Your growing up and education apparently gave you a good foundation.
Samantha: I loved to read when I was very young. My mother allowed me to go to the library and check out books, even in first grade, I already knew how to read. In our little town we didn’t have a kindergarten. So it was from my older sisters and brothers that taught me to read before entering school. I’ve always loved writing and loved reading and my mother fostered that. She loved reading and always had one book in progress. It was early in my childhood years that I began writing and my mom saved a little four-page book that I had made when I was in the second grade of school. She saved it and just before she died she gave it to me. It was very precious to me.

Ed.: Some of your most interesting books are geared for senior citizens though I think you’d agree they fit all ages. I refer to Savvy Senior Singles, Savvy Senior Sabbaticals and Savvy Senior Singles Handbook. Why did you consider this an important age group to witness to? You seem to feel very passionate about this.
Samantha: Well I am passionate about encouraging people over fifty. Statistically there are 11,000 people a day becoming 55. That’s going to continue for the next fifteen years. Unfortunately about 43% of those are single in this age group. It’s my desire to remind this age group they can have an excitement for life and not feel their life is over or on a “down hill slide” as one man said, but rather to help them achieve some of the dreams they had when they were young. I have met so many people who have never fulfilled their dream. Maybe they became an accountant, but wanted to be a musician. Maybe a business person really wanted to be an artist, on and on. It’s in this time of life when we do have the extra time. If we have children they are grown up. We have the ability to make choices, to revisit our dreams, to recycle them and look at our life and decide what we want to be in these coming years rather than just let the days go by and say “Rats, its just another day”. There is so much potential that we have and that’s what drives me, to help people get excited about their life. Particularly for singles I feel that many of them feel that they will be happy if they just have a mate. They think that will make the difference, but it won’t. We can choose to be happy and joyful about our life as a single person. Just getting married is not going to bring that change we desire. Our joy and zest for life has to come from within, it has to come from our relationship with the Lord. With that relationship with God we have the stability and ability to have that joy in our life no matter what our marital status is.

Ed.: One of the things that struck us in your Savvy Senior Singles and your devotional book A Shalom Morning is your emphasis on humor not just for seniors; but for all Christians. Would you care to elaborate?


Samantha: Keeping joy and humor in our life is medically sound, not something made up. Our bodies change on a cellular level when we laugh. A example is the difference between a smile and frowning. Physically a smile requires the use of 36 muscles, but a frown uses 97 muscles. The difference is that what happens when we frown, all of those muscles become tight in our head. When we smile those muscles relax. Relaxing the muscles allows more oxygen to get to the brain. When we have more oxygen in the brain we will feel happier. We’ll have a better feeling. There is a statement I put in my book that laughter will scrub out your insides. When times are tough, when bad things happen, relationships break down we go to a funny movie or watch a comedy on TV and that will bring laughter to our lives which will help break the stress. I have a little box I call my “joy box”. In there I put jokes and funny letters from my grandchildren, funny letters that other people have written, even jokes from Reader’s Digest or the internet. When I feel down I always go to the box and find something amusing. It helps me through difficult times. If we choose to be happy and choose to smile when hard times are coming it will help get us through our difficult circumstances. We have all heard of some lady who was dying of cancer who was radiant and reaching out to people. How much better that is than for us to be mad and angry at the world. When we are constantly angry and negative, no one then wants to help us or be around us. Laughter and joy must be a very important part of our life. It will make a difference, especially in senior years, as we choose to be positive, to have laughter in these later years.

Ed.: You have a great deal of media work on radio and TV. Even today there are Christians who regard the media as an enemy, and admittedly there is a lot of bad stuff out there. Do you believe that more Christians of all ages should get involved in radio, television and film to help counteract the bad and to work for the good?


Samantha: Absolutely. I think that this is an area that if we neglect it, we will find more and more evil taking over. There are some ministries now that are involved in Hollywood. The last four or five years I have been teaching a Bible study at Rhonda Fleming’s home in the Beverly Hills area. TV and film producers, writers, television personalities and other media people come as well as different people from all walks of life who live in the Beverly Hills, Hollywood area. They too are like the rest of us, needing someone to encourage them in their circumstances. They are needing to know that God will help them in that room. I am very excited when I hear of some ministry like Dr. Larry Poland who has a very strong affect in the Hollywood area, as well as the Christian Women in Media to which I belong. These and others are important ministries in the media. As Christians, if we can’t go to Hollywood, we can support the ministries that are there.

Ed.: You have quite a ministry yourself in this area. In 1986 you founded Christian Celebrity Luncheons.
Samantha: Twenty three years ago I started Christian Celebrity Luncheons at our country club. Living as I do in the Palm Springs area, it was very difficult for Christians to get to know each other. The “snow birds” would come in for a few months and not really have an opportunity to make Christian contacts. I also wanted it to be an outreach to non Christians. I realized in order to do that I had to bring in high profile people because these people in the secular world needed to see the Christian world functioning. I brought in people like Charles Duke, the astronaut, actors like Gavin MacLeod, the Love Boat captain; Cal Thomas from Fox News; actresses like Rhonda Fleming, authors and other outstanding speakers such as Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, retired Chaplan of the Senate. I brought these people to our country club because I saw this example in what Jesus did. He went to the house of Zacchaeus and Zacchaeus invited his friends for a dinner with Jesus.. Those friends were different from the fishermen where Jesus also went. (Luke 19:1-10) I felt that was what God was asking me to do, go where the “snow birds” were used to going, a country club. What I found was the importance of going where those people we needed to reach were used to going. I found that people who had power and had money have already found out that all their power and money won’t fix their families and won’t fix their health or other problems. They are very open when they find out Jesus Christ is the answer to their difficult circumstances. They are very open to receive the Good News. They really don’t have the power to fix their problems by themselves. The amazing thing is that people have said, “Why would you go to them?” They are people who are hurting just like every other group.

Ed.: Your participants in that program are outstanding from what we have seen on your web page. Outside of our Lord Jesus Christ are there any people you would especially cite as very inspirational to you today?


Samantha: It is hard to cite any one person, as what is amazing is that a speaker may touch on the one thing that I need to hear that day. I remember when Barbara Fairchild (she and her husband have a show) came she said something that day that meant a great deal. She said Jesus was our “forever friend”. In fact she sang a song Forever Friend, and the last line says “Even when I’m not his friend, he’s mine.” That meant so much to encourage people to make Jesus their friend. Because he does want to be their’s. During all these years different speakers will say something so precious, that so resonates in reality that it changes my life. We’ve had people like Stephanie Edwards, she Emceed the Rose Bowl Parade for many years. There is an amazing lady, Baroness Caroline Cox, who is the Speaker of the House of Lords in London. I have been privileged to be over there a couple times with her in the House of Lords. In addition to her work in the House of Lords, the most amazing thing she does is take her own money and travels into dangerous parts of the world and carries medicine and Bibles and will, if necessary, walk twenty five miles to a village. She is in her sixties and is such an incredible woman. There was another lady named Aileen Coleman who just had her 50th ministry anniversary last year who is an administrator of a hospital in Jordan. Even though she is from Memphis, TN, she has spent her whole adult life in Jordan. She started with a little tent and would help the Bedouins who had TB, give them shots and minister to them. She has like an eighty-room hospital. There is no denomination behind her, just people giving to her ministry. We have been blessed with such amazing people as speakers.

Ed. : Are there any special projects you are working on now or planning in the future that we can tell our readers about?


Samantha: For the past three years I’ve had a weekly radio program Psalms of Hope, which, in addition to being heard in California, beams out of a radio station in downtown Jerusalem and is heard all over the Arab world as well as the rest of the world on satellite. It blesses me that our soldiers as well as Israeli and Arab soldiers can hear our message of hope. I am also just finishing up a book for relationships for singles over 50. I am calling it Technicolor Relationships for Savvy Singles. I will talk about the difference between having a black and white non-interesting relationship and a warm, vibrant exciting relationship, with practical ways to implement the kind of relationship we will want in these years of our lives. We will also be talking about things to look out for as senior singles when we are dating. There are some issues the Christian world doesn’t deal with. There are things that happen in our single world, we would like to think don’t happen. I deal with some hard issues, like abuse and venereal disease, as I did in the Savvy Senior Singles book. I am really excited about this book and it will be out in a few months. My books and tapes are available on my web page People who go to my web page will also have access to download articles I have written in the past as well as listen to the Psalms of Hope programs.

Ed.: We will definitely direct our readers there.

In our own program we have tried to do something similar to what your goal has been with your special luncheons. I refer to this publication as well as Christian media events with guests from film, TV, sports and the publishing world who are willing to witness their faith. If there is any way we could work together we would like to do so.

Samantha: I would love that, just let me know if there is anything I can do to help you. I’m open and would be happy to help you with any of your projects.


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Sep 20 2008

Actress Laurie Prange tells us about her project on Fanny Crosby

Published by pointnorth under Interviews

At Tommy Hildreth’s shows, we have been fortunate to meet some outstanding Christians and The Western Film Fair, in Winston-Salem, NC, was no exception. Appearing at her first convention was Laurie Prange who has been included in a collection of biographies by Ace Collins in his book Stories Behind Women of Extraordinary Faith (Zondervan). Once we read about Laurie and her current project we had to agree, she is an extraordinary woman and we knew we had to interview her. Story on Page Three.

Ed.: We want to get to this first. I refer to news about something special you are doing that has excited every Christian we’ve talked with since our meeting in North Carolina. Tell us about your project that involves the amazing life of Fanny Crosby.

Laurie: It is a project most dear to my heart where I portray the prolific 19th century blind hymn-writer Fanny Crosby who wrote over 8000 hymns, most notably Blessed Assurance. Fanny lost her sight at 6 weeks old and despite impossible odds and setbacks during her lifetime, she was able to achieve impossible dreams and lead an enriched life as God’s servant. As a child, her grandmother took it upon herself to be “her eyes”. She would sit young Fanny on her lap on the porch and describe in detail the physical world surrounding her…sunrises and the sunsets. Fanny learned early on through her grandmother and mother to “choose” to see her blindness as a ‘gift’ that awakens more spiritual insight.
I have never been so inspired working on a project. You could say I have been obsessed with Fanny Crosby…she does that. The more you read about her, the more she gets under your skin. The challenge to portray Fanny Crosby and tell her story has enriched my own life’s journey and also my own faith’s walk. We shot just under 40 hours of footage a few years back where I play her from childhood to the evening of her passing. It was shot on a shoestring budget but beautifully shot like an oil painting. The project has been stalled several times because we ran out of the resources needed for quality post production to see it to it’s completion. It was put on hold for a few years and then last year I picked it up again. The generous talents and support of many people have carried it to this point and I am determined to finish it. The finished piece will be about an hour long…an intimate docudrama showing her faith’s journey as a Christian through her poetry and music. I don’t want to say too much about how we tell her story, but I hope that it will be as inspirational to the viewer as it has been for me.
Fanny was born in 1820 and died in 1915. In her day she was the most beloved woman in America. Referred to as the “Methodist Saint” …she was the Mother Teresa of her time. In her later years she would walk the streets of the New York Bowery District ministering to the needs of the poor. The last years of her life Fanny continued her work through various Missions and prisons in New York, encouraging the lost and deprived. She never stopped. Encouraged to slow down in her advanced years she would say, “I’ll never stop…I always considered that for old people!”
I could go on and on about her…She had a mind like a steel trap, retaining anything she heard and could recite entire books of the Bible by heart. She was the first woman to speak before Congress and met and knew as personal friends every president during her lifetime. She loved her country and was laid to rest holding an American flag across her breast. I even read about an incident where Fanny was sitting in a cafe in New York and overheard disparaging remarks made about America across the room. The story went on to relate how this petite elderly blind woman in a black Victorian dress “lunged” across the tables with her cane to take the commentator to task.
I was raised in a beautiful Christian family with four brothers and one sister. Although I attended a Christian school I had never heard the name Fanny Crosby, but certainly knew and sung her hymns: All the Way My Savior Leads Me, Praise Him Praise Him!, To God Be the Glory, Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Savior, Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross, Rescue the Perishing and Safe in the Arms of Jesus.
Fanny was raised a Christian but it wasn’t until her early 30’s when she had her true conversion experience where she opened up to allow the Holy Spirit to truly grab and hold her heart taking her to a deeper lever of faith. I feel that her journey of faith is important to the story. She actually wrote a poem in her later years of this ‘conversion experience’ which will be a part of our telling of her journey.
Although Fanny achieved some secular success as a poetess it wasn’t until her mid 40’s after the death of her only child when she was moved to write her first hymn. Her life and how she survived periods of despair and setbacks to continue on with ‘purpose’ to do the Lord’s work is an inspiration. She was always able to regroup and go on.

Ed.: You had a lovely Christian childhood and we enjoyed reading about your parents Evelyn and Joseph. How influential were they in your own Christian development?

Laurie: My mother was an Army nurse during WWII and that is how she met my father who was an Army pilot. They were steadfast devout Christians and the best parents and role models a child could have. While growing up, the kids in the neighborhood gravitated to our house because we had parents with solid values and rules who invited all the children to have a safe place to play…We pretty much tore up the backyard with our outside games, forts, and tree houses…I have great memories of my childhood.
My mother, who will be 90, is very precious to me and I treasure every moment spent with her. She always encouraged me in my dreams and never said “Oh you can’t do that!” I honor the time to be there for her- to care for her needs at this time of her life.
My father died at an early age in his 60’s. Like many of his generation he was a smoker. Two days before he died, he told us how grateful he was that his children had not taken up the habit. He expressed regret losing the many years he could have shared with his family had he been able to quit. My father who passed away over 20 years ago was an extremely ethical and forthright Christian man. I loved him very much. I have come over the years to understand and appreciate his ’stands’ with me….what it must have been like for a father to raise 6 kids in this culture we all face today. He held on to his principles and never budged from his Christian values. In my 20’s, when I was unraveling my Christian values to ‘accommodate’ the secular values of our culture he and I butted horns. I now look back at those years and value the steadfastness in his faith of knowing what was right. It took me years to truly appreciate the courage and sacrifices he made to take a stand against the culture that was pulling at his children. In the book by Ace Collins Stories Behind Women of Extraordinary Faith our relationship is gone into in more detail.

Ed.: You went through a very low point in your life following the death of your beloved brother, Joey, in Vietnam. You found an outlet for your feelings in acting. How and when did this begin?

Laurie: I was in 10th grade when my brother was killed. There are a lot of emotions that erupt with tragedies like this that only a family who has gone through this can understand. It was an emotional tsunami for me and was the beginning of my faith’s unraveling that stayed with me throughout my 20’s. I channeled all of my grief and anger into drama classes. During my 3 years in high school I represented my school in many Los Angeles acting competitions and always placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. In my senior year I performed a 1st place monologue on the Royce Hall stage at U.C.L.A. And later that year a performance of Anouilh’s Antigone brought the attention of several Hollywood agents who wanted to sign me. I was getting advice to change my name and hair color etc. and went with the agent who told me “not to change a thing.” My first professional role was starring with Julie Harris and Robert Stack in a Name of the Game TV series season opener. This appearance coincided with a three- page TV Guide article about how I had been signed from a high school production for such a big role and my career took off from there.
I worked throughout the 70’s and 80’s guest starring on many TV series such as Gunsmoke, Night Gallery, The Man and the City with Anthony Quinn, The Lady’s Not for Burning with Richard Chamberlain, The Waltons, The Incredible Hulk, Highway to Heaven to name a few.
There were also mimiseries’ including Testimony of Two Men and The Dark Secret of Harvest Home with Bette Davis.
One of the highlights of my career was performing on stage for three months with Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, and Maureen Stapleton at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum in the Sean O’Casey play Juno and the Paycock. Mrs. Sean O’Casey was flown in on opening night. I also met and had an exchange with Tennessee Williams which is mentioned in Ace’s book where he said how he would like to have me one day play “his Laura” from The Glass Menagerie. I never played that role but years later did perform the role of Blanche in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire in Los Angeles.

Ed. : One major change that came in your life was your future husband, Richard Lyons, a devout Christian and talented musician. We understand he was an answer to your parents’ prayers.

Laurie: Richard is the only Christian I ever dated. He was raised Baptist and I was raised a Lutheran.
My parents were very happy when I fell in love with a man who was raised with the same values that I was. As I said earlier there was a period in my life after my brother’s death lasting into my 20’s where I bought into all of the sophomoric rhetoric we still hear today about organized religion being the source of all the world’s problems. My communication with God through prayer never ceased but I became detached from my Christian faith. I hear people today as they try to talk intellectually about how ignorant those who have faith are and I say to myself “Oh my!…that’s the same rhetoric I bought into in my 20’s!”
From the culture and values of my upbringing I was suddenly thrown into a Hollywood culture where I met many talented, very kind, charismatic people that were far more well read and educated than I….Very nice articulate voices but not ‘God connected’. I gave a lot of these well-intentioned and worldly people a lot of credibility that changed, reshaped and unraveled many of the values and viewpoints I had been brought up in.
I believe it was God’s hand that placed my husband into my life and me into his. It was truly Him that put us together…for the both of us. Richard is the love of my life and we will be having our 24th anniversary.

Ed.: As a Christian have you found the attitude in Hollywood to be critical when it comes to your beliefs?

Laurie: I feel that much of Hollywood is cynical about Christianity. And certainly Christians are usually portrayed in the most caricatured, negative, cartoonish, demeaning light. Christians are marketed negatively in the media which is where a lot of people form their opinions about Christianity…which they know nothing about…AND are not encouraged to investigate. Any other religion on earth is shown respect and objectivity but Christianity is a target.
A few years back Richard and I were at a fundraiser where a comedian did a whole stand-up routine mocking Christians and their belief in Jesus. Interestingly Christians were not the only ones offended at the performance. The organizers of the event didn’t understand the backlash…”Don’t Christians have a sense of humor?” The Catholic venue that rented out the space for the event wrote the organizers to tell them they would no longer be welcomed to rent the building for future benefits.
Richard and I have gotten surprised looks when it comes up in conversation that we are churchgoing Christians…”Really?….. you go to church?”…Which can lead to interesting dialogue and discussions. I find many of our friends on the outside of Christianity are fascinated by our faith. It goes against their “stereotype’ of Christians as ignorant believers of fairy tales, and they are curious which leads to good talk. I have said many times that I choose to live my life through the eyes of faith than through the eyes of cynicism. Church is our place to worship and also connect to a community of shared values…values we are sadly losing more and more in our culture today.

Ed.: Fanny Crosby’s life apparently reached through the ages to touch you. Not an accident, but a God thing as many Christian young people would say today.

Laurie: Fanny married Alexander Van Alstyne and they had a child and the child died. That sent her into another cycle of depression for about three years. She met a Mr. Bradbury who felt her lyrics should be written for hymns.
I knew what it was like as my brother was killed in Vietnam and I went through such a dark period.
I will be showing what all Fanny went through emotionally and how it took her to a deeper level of faith. She went on to work with the poor and the needy. As I put this together it will show how she put things together to become the amazing woman she was. How she came to this deeper level and
went on to inspire others.

Ed.: What are your plans for marketing this beautiful project?

Laurie: This project has been a challenging journey to complete and I cannot abandon it. Life itself is challenging and I am determined. We hope to market the finished piece to churches all around the country and also to the Christian media. I feel honored to use whatever talents God gave me to put into a project that honors Him. Fanny Crosby has gotten under my skin. You start researching her and you can’t let her go. Her life inspires.

Ed.: You certainly will have our prayers and support on this. We want to stay in close touch with you on this project. We also have to mention that we were very excited about the music your husband Richard performed at The Western Film Fair. He writes and sings with beautiful inspiration.

Laurie: My husband Richard is a brilliant singer/songwriter who has the rare talent to transform an audience and people’s hearts with his voice and lyrics. He just finished recording one of the songs he sang at The Western Film Fair that he wrote for his father who is struggling with parkinson’s called Soul of a Dove/Heart of a Lion. He will have his CD out in a couple of months and we will stay in close touch. We would love to be a part of what you are doing.
Thank you for your efforts in using the power of the media for good.

Ed. Note. Laurie and Richard will have web pages set up in the future and we will be furnishing that information and giving you updates on their projects.


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