Part 2 of an inspiring speech by David and Jason Benham, courageous twins who are nationally recognized for their advocacy on critical family policy issues and dynamic communication style. The message was delivered at NC Family’s Major Speakers Series in Greenville, N.C., on March 13.
INTRODUCTION: This week, we bring you an inspiring speech by David and Jason Benham, courageous twins who are nationally recognized for their advocacy on critical family policy issues. This message was delivered at NC Family’s Major Speakers Series Dinner in Greenville, North Carolina on March 13.
DAVID BENHAM: I was drafted by the Red Sox, he was drafted by the Orioles after our senior season, 1998. We went on to play several seasons in the minor leagues, and our book, Whatever The Cost—one part of the byline is “Dying to your Dreams.” We never made it to the big leagues and we always knew when we left Liberty: ‘God is going to get us to the Major Leagues; I’m gonna hit the game-winning homerun in the 9th inning of the World Series; We’re gonna be in the Hall of Fame; The Lord’s gonna give us this platform; We’re gonna glorify the Lord.’ Well, it never happened, ever. We did not make it. The next thing you know, we decided to move to Charlotte, North Carolina. We had no idea what we were going to do. I mean here you are, minor league baseball players with American History degrees, having never really held a real job. What are you going to do? Get your Real Estate license! I mean, let’s just do that. So, we got our Real Estate license and you know all we had were the principles of God’s Word. We didn’t have any business training at all. When we got saved at the age of 12, Dad told us, “Boys, you gotta make your theology biography’ But you’ve got to have some theology first. Get in the Word of God.” So, between the ages of 12 to 18, we began reading through the New Testament every year, and we’re still on the same Bible reading schedule these days that we were back then. And then at the age of 18, when we went to Liberty we started reading through the whole Bible. We’ll be 42 this year, so we’ve been doing it every year, and repeat every single year. So, all we had was the principles of God’s Word. Well, we applied that in the marketplace and by 2010, we had 100 offices across 35 states. Then, Wall Street Journal, Ernst & Young, Inc. magazine, they listed us as the 27th fastest growing private franchise in America in 2010. I mean, all this stuff starts happening and we weren’t out ambitiously trying to build our brand. We were just serving people’s needs in the marketplace. Well by 2012, a production company reaches out to us and says, “Hey, you guys want to be on a reality television show?” Now at first, we were like, “Um, no I don’t think so. I don’t want to. We’re very vocal about our faith.” And they’re like, “Oh no, we’ve looked at the Internet. We’ve seen your videos. We’re paying attention. Will you please just take an interview from us?” So in early 2013, we did an interview with these guys and they said, “We’re going to put together a sizzle clip.” So that’s a little three-minute clip that they took out in Los Angeles. They came back and said, “Guys, five networks want you.” Well, TLC made us our first offer. So, now we’re in 2013. Jason and I, we’re at the height of our business career and TLC had made us a reality television show offer and in the middle of us negotiating with them, HGTV, the general manager of the network bypasses our agents, bypasses our production company, and calls my cellphone direct. She says, “Listen, I’m on vacation but I just talked to my executive producer and they said we lost you guys to TLC.” And by this time I’m somewhat of a seasoned businessman, I’m like, “Well, you haven’t actually lost us yet….” And she said, “Would you entertain an offer?” and I said, “Yes, we will.” And so they shot an offer over to us, and the next thing you know, all summer long in 2013, we’re in a bidding war. We actually got on a call with the executive producers of both networks, back to back, where they were pitching their networks to us and about all the stuff they were going to do for us and everything else. Well, finally HGTV ups their offer and we said, “Alright, we’ll sign with you guys.”
JASON BENHAM: Now HGTV is a big company.They’re not just going to sign with a couple of jacklegs like us without first doing background checks and doing all these things. So, a few weeks went by and HGTV, they had the producer call us. David was out of town on business. I remember getting a call from our producer and she said, “Listen, everybody at HG is beside themselves excited. They’re talking about how they’re gonna make you guys the franchise players on their network. You’re gonna be in millions of home, and as the production company, we’re so excited too. But the attorneys at HG have one question that they want to ask you. They came across you guys in a video where you supported some amendment.” —It was Amendment 1 in North Carolina back in 2012—”and you guys said something about marriage is only between a man and a woman. And so here’s what they want to know: Are you guys anti-gay?” That was their question. You know, the first feeling that came over me in that moment: fear. I wasn’t expecting this. I mean, it caught me like a sucker punch. I experienced fear like I hadn’t experienced before. I was literally scared to answer this question because, when she asked that question, the first thought that jumped into my mind was, “You better be careful how you answer this, because if you don’t answer it right you’re gonna lose this new platform that you guys are really looking forward to doing some great things with.” And so in that moment I was like, “Oh boy, I better answer this the right way.” I said a quick snap little prayer and by God’s grace he gave me something to say. I said, “No, we’re not anti anything, we’re pro Jesus.” And through the course of that conversation, I basically explained to her that God’s blessings are found within God’s boundaries and if we remove those boundaries, His blessings are replaced with burdens. And one of his boundaries is marriage between a chick and a dude. You know what her response was, “OK, that’s good because you know what, a lot of us at HG, your production company, and even your agents, we kind of believe like you guys do. We just don’t really talk about it much.” That’s what she said. And so, I hung up the phone. I wiped my forehead. I’m like, “God you are good, man, you gave me something awesome to say and I was able to save the show and still stand for my faith.” Right. Well two weeks went by and we didn’t get a phone call, text, tweet, nothing, email from HG, our production company or our agents. And up until this point, they had been communicating with us every single day and I thought we were getting dumped. David said, “Dude, I feel the exact same way.” We got down on our knees and we began to pray, and you know what our prayer was? “God, please save the show. Please save the show.” And you know, we stood up and both of us in our spirits said, “We really feel like God wants us to write a letter to HGTV, send an email to HGTV” just kind of trying to save our show. So David wrote this email and sent it to me, “What do you think?” And I read it and I was like, “This is great man!” It was three paragraphs long and you know what it said? Here’s what it said: “HGTV, these are our beliefs and we’re never going to back down from them. However, when we’re on your show and when we represent your network, wherever we go we’re gonna be quiet about it.” He wrote it……..
DAVID BENHAM: But you told me to write it…..
JASON BENHAM: I approved it and both of us were doing it for the Lord and both of us felt like God had given us this email. Do you know what had happened? In that moment, David and I both began to focus on that platform that we didn’t want to lose and we took our focus off of the Person who put it there in the first place. And you know what happens when you take your focus off of the Person who put that promise or that platform or that provision? The minute you take your focus off of the Person, you begin to operate strategically in the mind, and no longer spiritually in the heart. And you can’t see any more! And you’re doing it all for the Lord, all for God’s glory. And here I am, a pastor, who can’t talk about an issue because I don’t want to lose my congregation. Well, the very thing that you wont let go of, that’s the thing that’s enslaving you. And that’s the thing God’s saying, “Pastor, you let go of your congregation. You stand up there and you deal with that cultural hot topic. You do that and let it go and you be bold for Me.” But David and I, we failed in that moment, I’m telling you. Well, we decided we weren’t going to send it to HGTV, we were going to send it to a spiritual mentor of ours first. So, we sent it to this pastor friend of ours and you know what, within about 90 seconds he sent an email back and said, “How dare you boys write an email like this. This isn’t who you are. How do you know that God hasn’t put you in this situation to tear down a stronghold that is ransacking this nation?” You know what we did? We got down on our knees and we repented. We cried out to the Lord in the same way that Peter went out when he heard that rooster crowing and he went out and he wept many bitter tears. David and I realized from that moment, that we were operating out of a man-pleasing spirit, and we were doing “it all for the Lord.” And what we realized then was that boldness apart from brokenness makes a bully. We had no clue that several month’s later, we were going to get fired and we had to stand boldly before the Lord. But you know what God had to do first before we stood boldly? He had to break us. He had to show us who we were: that deep down we were nothing more than cowards. And we discovered the secret to courage is first recognizing your inner coward and then allowing the Holy Spirit to unleash your inner lion.
DAVID BENHAM: So the fear of man and a man-pleasing spirit was all over us and God was telling us to fear Him. Well after that two week period, now we look back and we know what God was doing. All of a sudden, HG call us out of the blue, again bypassing the agents and everybody, and said, “Are you signing with us or what?” So we signed with HG. They called the show “Flip it Forward.” It was about Jason and I helping families. We’re four weeks in, in 2014. They’re running commercials and then they call us and said, “Guys, we got good news. We just announced your names at the upfronts in New York City.” These are upfronts, these are big sales shows where they bring in all their advertisers and endorsers, the focus groups and everything. “This is going to be a big show! This is great! You got endorsers. You got Disney World and others saying they want to be a part of the show. This is all good news.” We said, “OK, good!” And they said, “And one other group called us, GLAAD, and they said they’re not really happy that we’re giving you guys a platform but don’t worry. We’ve got this all under control.” So the next week, Jason and I are still filming. Now, we’re five weeks in. We get a phone call at nine o’clock at night from one of the top executives at the network and they said, “Look, we’ve been back and forth with GLAAD all week long and so we’re just going to go ahead and let you guys know. Relax. Everything’s under control. We’re not going to put anything in writing to them but we’re going to call them when we get off the phone with you and let them know we’re sticking with you. We’re not letting you go. You’re gonna be stars on the network.” That was the last words we heard from HG. Hung the phone up. Next morning, 6’clock in the morning, our phones are vibrating off the hook from friends across the country saying, “Did you see HGTV’s Facebook page?” Well, I’d never been on HGTVs Facebook page, so what had happened, you go on their Facebook page and about 3 o’clock in the morning, the night after that phone call, there’s a sentence that says, “We are reviewing the Benham Brothers show.” And underneath that, thousands of comments: things that I would never repeat in public. They said things about our daughters; They said things about us; They said things about our wives. I’m like, “What on earth? This is awful. What happened?” Well, GLAAD is partners with Right Wing Watch. When GLAAD doesn’t get what they want, they tap Right Wing Watch on the shoulder to provide a new narrative. And they take the Right Wing Watch article as true journalism and they circulate it to the AP, they’ll give it to CNN, I mean they’ll give it to everybody. And they start circulating this and they mobilize their base. So, Jason and I, we had a 9 a.m. call time and we report and we were like, “What on earth’s gonna happen?” We didn’t know what was going on. And so at 11 a.m., HGTV texts my phone and says, “Hey, you guys. Got time for a conference call?” And we said, “Yes. Sure.” Now we didn’t know what this conference call was going to be about. We had no idea how many executives would be on. We didn’t know. We just knew they’d spent millions of dollars—this shows a big show. We were told the night before we were going to be stars and everything is great. Now all of a sudden, there’s this little hiccup. So just before we took the call, we got out alone. We found a place by ourselves. We both got down on our knees and we said, “Lord Jesus, when we surrendered to you, we said, ‘Whatever the cost.’ So give us the grace, whatever this call is going to be.” We make the phone call. First words out of the mouth of the highest executive, the director of the Home Division, “Boys, we’re cancelling the show.” First words came to my mind: “Thank you. Thanks for the opportunity. Thank you for believing in us.” So then I said, “You know what. You believed in us but you got bullied. You got bullied into this.” And one of the executives, not on this call but a couple of calls earlier, said, “We have to pander to groups like this.” And we said, “No, you don’t have to pander to groups like this.” And we said, “You got bullied into this.” And what’s happening right now is this radical secular leftist agenda is demanding silence. And that’s why we love being a part of the Family Policy Council, the NC Family Policy Council, because they’re willing to step out, they’re willing to speak the faith. Their vision statement, their mission statement, is all about this great faith. It’s all about standing boldly for the values that God gives us. So that’s why we want to encourage you to get involved. They need friends. They needs funds. But more than any of that, you go home tonight, dive into this Word, get on your knees, commit yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ. For as long as you have breath, let’s stand boldly in North Carolina in the name of Jesus Christ.
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