At the age of 91, Verna Linzey has just released her first musical CD, is starring in a new movie and also hosting a TV show. The extraordinary life of this mother-of-ten who is still going stron
I have to confess that I have never interviewed a woman who, at the age of 91, has just released her first musical CD, is starring in a new movie and is hosting a TV show.
|Dan Wooding, Jim and Verna Linzey on
‘His Channel Live’
But, finally I have, and it took place on Monday, March 7, 2011, when I talked with Mrs. Linzey and her son, Chaplain Jim Linzey, for my “His Channel Live” program in the studios of His Channel (www.hischannel.com) in Santa Ana, California.
I soon discovered that, despite her age, Verna Linzey is still in fine voice as she sang several of her songs from her CD in harmony with her son, who is also an excellent singer.
She also shared her story which she said began in a “mansion” in Coffeyville, Kansas, and moved to San Diego, California and then around the world.
Verna Linzey has climbed the ladder of success in ministry, movies and recording while motivating her husband, former Sailor Stan Linzey, and son, Jim Linzey, and daughter, Sharon Linzey, now based overseas, and several others of her ten children to seek God’s calling for their lives as well, and with great stride and enthusiasm.
|Evangelist Dr. Verna Linzey speaking at the World Believers’ Convention 2010|
Verna’s own family, she revealed, has helped prepare her for her life’s work. Her father, Carey Franklin Hall II, passed away when she was two years old. This had an impact on her life, because she grew up without him. But who he was and what he did had a life-long impact on her. He was Methodist. Therefore, the Holiness teaching in their church gave Verna a strict Biblical understanding of living a holy life and seeking sanctification in her heart, mind, and conduct.
Ira Stanphil, the great American hymn writer, and his brother, Ray, were family friends and visited and helped out at the Hall Music Store, founded by Carey Hall, where Carey and Alice, Verna’s highly successful parents, sold Baldwin pianos. This background provided Verna, a resounding soprano, with the impetus to pursue musical studies.
Little did Ira know that Verna would record and release his song “Mansion Over the Hilltop” after she turned 91 years of age and after he passed away.
Verna’s step-father, Rev. Francis L. Doyle, who assisted Alice Hall with the business until they later married, helped establish the Assemblies of God denomination.
The foundation for her calling into the ministry was her spiritual heritage in her family, her family’s friendship with Rev. P.C. Nelson, attending Southwestern Bible College that Rev. Nelson founded, and ministering with her family in evangelistic crusades. Her eldest brother, Rev. Franklin Hall, was a highly successful evangelist, whom John Wimber lectured on at Fuller Theological Seminary and who conducted packed out crusades across America in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. He highly impacted the ministries of Oral Roberts, A.A. Allen, Gordon Lindsay, and William Branham. He ministered with Dr. Waltrip who was the husband of Kathryn Kuhlman, and he led Pastor Tommy Barnett to the Lord.
When Verna met Stan Linzey, she refused to date him unless he went to church. So their first date was to National City First Assembly of God, where Verna noted that Stan followed her to the altar to pray. She later had an impact on his decision to join the ministry, after which they ministered together. Their endeavors included building the El Cajon Evangelistic Tabernacle—now Family Life Church—and speaking around the world.
Before Stan passed away in early 2010, their son, now retired Chaplain (Major) Jim Linzey, assisted Verna by producing her television series—“The Holy Spirit Today”—now in the final editing stages. He also served as one of the arrangers of her first CD — “Oh Blessed Jesus,” written by Verna and already heard around the world.
Perhaps what may be one of the most significant accomplishments, well above the books and movie she starred in, is her participating as the editorial assistant of the 2011 King James Bible and her coming out with your own Bible called “The Women’s Leadership Bible by Verna Linzey.”
Verna explained, “My Bible is translated by Military Chaplains. American and British Military Chaplains have produced their own translation of the Bible. It is an update of the King James Version and called the King James Version 2011. I am providing my own notes, meditations, devotionals, and prayers for women facing all kinds of hardships. And it will include the 9 Leadership Traits to help women succeed where ever they are in life. My Bible will be published by the Military Bible Association this year.”
|Dr. Verna Linzey on the set of “Iniquity”
(Photo: Jeff Anderson)
A woman with very many talents, she has not always wanted to be in the movies, nor did she seek this opportunity. She was sought out. The role in the movie, “Iniquity” was presented to her by the producer, Janice Hollis, through her son, Jim, who manages his mother’s career and ministry.
“This was the last thing I thought I would do. But I am willing to participate in any endeavor that brings people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Verna.
Verna is quite an expressive person with a charismatic personality that draws people to her in powerful ways. She said, “When what you say comes from the heart, whether it’s on or off stage, then who you are is communicated quite clearly and what you say is quite genuine. Acting is about being real, just as is preaching—believing what you say and saying what you believe to convey the truth at hand.”
Being a woman in ministry has had some bumps in the road — perhaps with some different challenges than many men face. As Verna has expressed, “It’s bad enough when men compete with each other for leadership in God’s kingdom, forgetting who the King is. But it can be worse when men shoot you down out of competition or jealousy, or for being a woman. I’ve been invited to speak at a conference once, and then dis-invited because jealous men made an untruthful and mean-spirited remark. So I simply focused on the larger picture and continued with my television work where I felt most comfortable anyway, and eventually my first movie. It’s important to be careful not to lift one’s self up, but rather to allow others and God to lift you up when God sees fit.”
|Evangelist Verna Linzey pictured in 1941|
But Verna has not had to endure tough times alone. “Once when Chuck Flynn ministered to me, he said, ‘He who has been harassing you will cease.’” In the depths of her despair, God has sent assistants to hold her up. Her experiences are a model for all of humankind. Verna’s achievements against so many odds is an inspiration to all. As the Rev. Dr. Robert H. Schuller stated to Verna, “You really are a most remarkable person and tremendous inspiration to all of us. God has truly blessed you with not only wisdom and insight, but with a beautiful spirit as well.”
Movie star Verna Linzey has a role in “Iniquity,” which is to be released this Spring. It is a modern version of the Biblical story of David and Bathsheba. Verna manages somehow to exhibit tremendous humility in the face of such “stardom” in so many areas of life, including authoring books.
The most meaningful part of her journey as a believer this far is having had a family with ten children, and praying for the salvation of thousands of lost souls. Above all, her relationship with the Savior has sustained her through many trials and pressures. “Walking with Jesus is the sweetest experience on earth,” said Verna.
Verna shared various aspects of film that are critical to a “lost” audience. She said, “First, the message is always most critical; second, the way that message is communicated is important. The vehicle through which that message is communicated must be real and believable in order for that film to reach a ‘lost’ audience.
“The same is true in preaching. There are many unreal individuals preaching the Gospel and some of the things they say should not be believed. This is where discernment comes into play. And for this reason, God has set up judges in the church with wisdom to discern truth from error. Well, in a feature film, the audience is the judge, and if they are persuaded that the actors are believable, meaning they are really feeling what they portray, then the message they convey can dramatically influence their lives in a positive way, especially if it’s a faith-based movie as is ‘Iniquity.’”
When asked how she bridged her faith into film, Verna had a quite refreshing approach to the topic. For her, it came naturally, because, as she so eloquently states, “Drama is merely one of the venues for propagating the Gospel. And it’s not better or worse than any of the other venues. My faith bridges my steps everywhere God leads. Every step we take must be a step of faith, for without faith we cannot please God. Life is not always doing just one thing. Otherwise, it would be a very boring life. He calls us to do whatever we do with faith.”
Verna is content to see others in front of the audience or the congregation. So when she ended up becoming an evangelist and on television, it was God that made this happen. “I did not seek the limelight,” says Verna. For Verna, it’s a humbling experience, but an opportunity to lift up Jesus. “And these experiences, while quite exhilarating, propel me to seek the face of God fervently and to keep my mind and my heart right before Him. And that’s what shapes true character,” Verna said.
Verna stands out as a believer with her specific gifts in the movie industry at 91 years of age. Her known work as a television evangelist and having been interviewed on Public Broadcasting Service makes her stand out in the movie cast because there are not too many evangelists who would make a guest appearance in a movie. As Verna says, “Jesus said to go where the harvest is ripe so that by any means we may win some to Him.”
Verna has touched so many lives. Throughout her 70 years of ministry she has had the opportunity to pray with a number of renowned people around the world, as well as destitute children through her ministry in the Far East called “The Verna Linzey Child Care Ministry.” She has prayed with sailors, and church members — people from all strata’s of society. And probably, with her book used as a text book in over 100 Bible schools, and her radio and television appearances, there may be untold numbers of people she has reached.
At the conclusion of the interview, I asked Verna what would those she has touched say about her in three words. Her reply was, “I don’t know.”
But she went on to state, “I hope and trust they would be kind words. I seek to convey God’s love, deep humility, and an abiding inner spirituality. What we convey shows who we are and what we are made of. It’s a choice. No one can make us be a certain way. It’s up to us. And the right choices will unlock the doors of success. It’s not always easy, but we can do it if we are on God’s side.”
Such humility may be the underlying reason why she has reached the top of the ladder with accolades such as being listed in “Who’s Who in the World,” “Who’s Who in America,” “Who’s Who Among American Women,” “The International Centre of Biography, 2000,” “Intellectuals of the 21st Century,”” Evangelist of the Year 2010, and nominated as “2006 Professional of the Year.”
May she continue her fine work for many years to come!