Charlynne Boddie worked in the White House and Hollywood before moving to the UK. Sam Hailes finds out more about this ordained minister’s most unusual career
You only have to spend a few minutes with Charlynne Boddie before you realise her life is a living demonstration of Jesus’ words “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Charlynne’s remarkable career has taken her from humble beginnings in the mountainous Denver, Colorado to the White House, where she worked as a press secretary for Bill Clinton’s administration, and Hollywood, where she presented her own TV show. She’s prophesied over Oprah, ministered to the cast of Lord of the Rings and witnessed countless miracles.
One can’t help wonder what the neighbours in her sleepy Sussex town make of all these escapades, but having been called to the UK at an early age, it’s no accident that Charlynne now lives here. Her dayto-day life involves travelling across the UK and beyond to lead seminars, courses and retreats on everything from how to listen to the Holy Spirit to understanding biblical prophecy. In our interview, Charlynne’s stories come thick and fast. It sometimes seems as if every moment from the past 50 years has been full of supernatural encounters with the great and the good. According to Charlynne, the secret to living an adventurous life is found in learning to hear God’s voice, being obedient to whatever he asks and never compromising. It turns out that the lesson of learning to trust God was instilled in her from an early age.
What was life like growing up?
My story starts age 11 with my mum being newly divorced from my dad, and us starting over again in Denver, Colorado. My uncle decided to move into a bachelor pad and gave my mum his five-bedroom house. My mum decided to fill it up with people that were needy and living hard on the streets. Our house became this ministry centre for battered women, unwed teen mothers, alcoholics and demon-possessed people. We watched people under the Lord go from bondage to freedom. That was the house I grew up in.
What were the challenges of living in that environment?
Mum worked for Marilyn Hickey Ministries – a big Christian television ministry. But money was tight. So instead of going to movies, we had family Bible study. When there wasn’t food on the table some nights we’d come home thinking, “we’re going to have to pray”, and there would be an anonymous bag of groceries on the back patio. My mum would say, “Girls, get the candles out. I think they might turn the lights off tonight because we don’t have the money.” And there’d be a knock on the door and some strangers – who we now believe would be angels – standing there with cash to the odd penny of the bill that was on the table. My mum would always come back in the lounge crying, “Girls, the Lord has met our need again.” So we grew up in those kinds of moments where you had to live by faith and the Lord always came through for us.
You went to Oral Roberts University and graduated with a degree in media. What happened next?
I landed a job at the US equivalent of the Environment Agency – the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They put me in the newsroom and after about two or three years I thought, “I love doing news conferences and I love the environmental issues, but I’m a little bored.” I went to pray one day and the Lord said, “What do you want?”
I said, “Well, Lord, I know there’s a call on my life that will eventually take me to the UK. So if I’m going to get there eventually, I want to have everything out of me that I would like to do in America.” And the Lord said, “Shoot.” I said, “Well, Lord, I work in the government now and I can’t think of a more challenging newsroom than working for the most powerful man on the planet. I want to go there.” And the Holy Spirit said, “Done.” I thought, “Wait a minute, that can’t be right.” Here’s the deal, though: Everything God says – there’s always something we need to do on our part. And the Lord said, “I will let you go to the White House as long as you don’t dilute the gospel in any way, shape or form.”
He said, “And what else would you like to do?” and I said, “Well, at some point I would like to give Oprah a message from you, Lord. She’s the most powerful woman in America financially, and yet she does not know you.” The Lord said, “OK, the same rule applies. You cannot dilute the gospel with Oprah.”
I said, “Lord, I have a degree in TV and film, I really want to go to Hollywood and have my own show and be a light for Jesus there.” And the Lord again said the same thing: “If you don’t dilute the message, I will give you Hollywood on a platter.”
So the White House was door number one. The Lord said, “I need you to get out a piece of paper and write a letter to the President.” And I thought, “This is crazy.” And he said, “Hey, Paul wrote letters that changed the world. So you’re next, daughter. Sit down. Write exactly what I tell you. He’s a very busy man, so whatever you write the President better be short and sweet. And don’t forget your social security number because the Secret Service will want that.” So I signed my name, put my social security number under it, [and] sent two short paragraphs to Bill Clinton.
And the day they got that letter they wanted to hire me on the spot. I was gobsmacked.
What was it like working in the White House?
It was under Bill Clinton and I think that was probably one of the most exciting White Houses, if you put his sexual discretions aside and you just looked at the job itself. I had assignments inside and outside of DC. One of those assignments was a secret installation under the earth somewhere in America that I can’t tell you about! I was always the first one in the newsroom, last one to leave, and I got in at 5:30am every day before the phones started ringing.
My best day ever at the White House was the day that the entire press office went silent as one of the speech writers asked me where my peace came from. I’ll never forget it. It was the moment I’d been waiting for. I told the entire press office that my peace is a person named Jesus Christ. To that, the speech writer said, “You mean the guy on the cross?” I said, “The guy who used to be on the cross. He is alive and well and I am in relationship with him. It is not about religion.”
After that my colleagues asked me what seemed like a myriad of questions about my faith. When the last question had been answered, the phones began to ring again. I truly believe the Lord put those calls on hold so that those folks could ask me about him.
I imagine there were temptations as well?
Two weeks before I went to the White House, I grabbed a guy of the world who was a very powerful guy on Capitol Hill. He’s definitely not a Christian, but he gave me his ear. I said, “Can you talk to me about what to expect in the men’s world of the White House?” He said, “They will really try to seduce you, and I mean in the traditional sense of the word.”
One week I was doing a news conference and saying to the press, “Two more questions everybody, thanks.” Somebody hands me a note. And I open up the note, and there is a hotel room key in it with a man’s name who shall not be named here but was a high-ranking government official. It was his hotel room key and he wanted me to meet him there after the news conference. That kind of thing happened several times. And I declined that, of course. But I kept thinking about the man who trained me for the White House. He said, “Do not be shocked by anything that you are propositioned with.”
What came after the White House?
Well, I did get to go see Oprah. It was her 41st birthday; there was a two-year waiting list just to get on the show. But the Lord opened that door. We’d prayed and fasted 30 days. The Lord said, “I didn’t have you pray and fast 30 days to get into the White House but you absolutely need to do it with Oprah, because there’s so many people around her that would try to prevent such a meeting where you’re coming to bless her.”
My sister and I went, and we prophesied to her what I heard the Lord say to her. I said, “God, what do you give a billionaire?” And he said, “Something they don’t have. And she does not have me. Give her the word.” So I got her a Bible and I had her name printed on it, and inside the Bible the Lord told me, “You have to write out the prophetic word for her inside it.” I believe a true prophetic voice records in dates what they’re saying, so there’s accountability.
As I began to speak the word to her, she collapsed onto my shoulder and was weeping. That’s a no-no at her studio; no one’s allowed to touch her. So they’re all yelling and screaming, and the Lord said, “This is why I had you fast.” He said, “Because you cannot be intimidated.” No one’s allowed to touch her or give gifts, and we broke all the rules that day, because God said, “This is your day, this is your hour, do what I’ve asked you to do.”
One of the hobbits met Jesus on set
You and your sister went on to start your own production company and present a TV show called Reel Sisters. I understand you got to meet the cast of Lord of the Rings – what was that like?
Unbelievable! They were great. Over 500 stars have been on my show to date, but to do the entire Lord of the Rings cast in three days, two nights…it’s never-ending.
Did you have an opportunity to share the gospel with them?
Yeah, it’s amazing. I didn’t wear crosses on purpose because I didn’t want anybody looking at the show saying, “You coerced that person to make that response.” When I met Peter Jackson [the director of The Lord of the Rings] I asked him…“How do you account for the success of this trilogy?” and he said, “Don’t laugh, Char, but I feel like [the] hand of God was helping me.” And he didn’t tell anybody else that. Whenever people were being interviewed by me on that particular film, they gave godly answers. People like John Rhys-Davies [Gimli in The Lord of the Rings] talked to me about their faith.
One of the hobbits met Jesus on set, because he point-blank asked me if God is still speaking. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to lose my credentials in Hollywood on this interview. But he can’t ask me how to meet Jesus and then I just walk from that!” The minute I said, “Yes, Sean [Astin], he is still speaking. In fact, the Lord would prophesy to you…” And I began to prophesy over the best friend of Frodo! And this guy starts shaking in the director’s chair – the presence of God came down into the studio.
With every person we met, they would often feel compelled to ask me to pray for them. I had major directors walking up to me saying, “I hope you don’t feel offended, but do you know how to pray?” “Yes, I’m an ordained minister.” “You are? Oh man!” And they would just pray with me. The first time I met Robert Duvall he said, “You all go to lunch, me and this young lady are going to talk about Jesus right now.” And everybody went to lunch! And there I am sitting there with Robert Duvall, talking about the Lord.
I understand you met with Beyoncé too?
Yes, it was probably one of my last interviews before I moved to the United Kingdom. I could just see the strain of what it’s like to be at her level. Because the entourage is huge, the bodyguards are huge, and there’s so many people fussing. There’s an inability to have lots of privacy when you’re on tour like that.
There was so much I really wanted to say. She did talk to me a little bit about being brought up in the church and that her church community in Texas was always really important to her.
I’ve always been a member of the Hollywood Prayer Calendar Team and I really believe it’s so important to pray for media influencers of our day. Every day…two cultural influences pop up on my phone and I stop and I pray for them. We’ve got to pray for the Beyoncés of the world. Pray for them, that they will know the Jesus Christ that you and I know.
Life hasn’t always been plain sailing. You’ve said before there have been times you’ve been in danger of losing your life.
There was one attack of the enemy – the ‘three two one attack’ is what I call it – there were three car accidents in ten months. The last one was a head-on collision with a drunk driver where they had to cut me out of the car. There was all kinds of internal bleeding.
The ‘two’ of the ‘three two one attack’ was two heart attacks that were back-to-back. I’d never had a heart problem in my life, and then suddenly my heart was just a mess. They almost lost me twice. After that I had breast cancer, and God healed me, just like that.
And earlier this year The Huffington Post reported you’d nearly lost your sight after an insect flew into your eye?
Yes, even though it’s been hard, scary and super-painful – I was literally blinded for several weeks – it was amazing because God gave me that opportunity to talk about him.
God said, “Char, I can heal you instantly, but I’m not going to do that, because right now there are people in this hospital that I can send you to.” And the minute I stepped into the emergency eye clinic I got to minister to a nurse who had just buried her 6-year-old son, she just fell apart in my arms.
You’re involved in life coaching from a prophetic perspective. But what would you say to people who struggle to believe that God would want to give them the career of their dreams?
I believe God is the God of the impossible. When you think about how big God is and how he wants to show himself through us, I believe everything is possible. So I never discount a dream that somebody brings to me but I always say we also help people understand how to hear God’s voice as a lifestyle. That is key. You have to hear his plan for you and then walk alongside him with that.
God is in the business of walking people through success with the passions he gives us. I don’t believe there’s anything in your life that God hasn’t put there first. So the question is: How is he going to do it? And what is he going to require of you in the journey? There is something that’s always required of us in the journey. So as long as it’s God’s plan and not my plan, then Yahweh is going to get his way.
Hear the full interview with Charlynne Boddie on Premier Christian Radio on Saturday, 10th December at 4pm. Or listen again at premierchristianradio.com/theprofile
Charlynne Boddie’s latest book No Appointments Necessary: Adventures from a missionary road less traveled (James and Brookfield Publishing) is out now. For more information visit Charlynne.com