By Editorial Staff
Published June 1, 1989
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (FR) – Some Hollywood columnists have called her a profit-hungry writer cruelly capitalizing on the mistakes of her movie star mother. But Barbara “B.D.” Hyman says she hopes that her mother will be able to experience the saving power of Jesus Christ, and she continually prays for her.
After publishing her first book, My Mother’s Keeper, which chronicled her life with film legend Bette Davis, Hyman wrote a sequel, Narrow is the Way, which is the story of her faith in Jesus Christ. The first book was written “as a plea for her to hear me before it was too late,” Hyman said. “I also believe that it gives an insight into aspects of her struggles that are of interest.” Her faith in Jesus Christ, she said, helped her cope with the subsequent publicity surrounding the controversial book.
Although to date Bette Davis has not become a Christian, and rarely communicates with her daughter, Narrow is the Way echoes B.D.‘s hope for salvation and reconciliation with her mother.
Five turbulent yet peaceful years have passed since B.D. and her husband, Jeremy, became Christians. Both of their sons, Justin and Ashley, are also Christians. Their conversion from agnosticism began when a Christian businessman unexpectedly visited them during the winter on their farm in Pennsylvania. “A man came to the door to deliver books for the Chamber of Commerce, and I agreed to buy one. It was the middle of winter, so we invited him in.” Mr. Serafino Fazio, a West Virginia businessman and outspoken Christian, was “half frozen,” and starved for outside company when they invited him into their home.
“We were bored and decided to bait the holy roller,” said B.D. “If there was one thing Jeremy liked more than prying into other people’s business, it was cornering holy rollers and arguing with them.” Educated in England, Jeremy Hyman went to church six times a week and twice on Sunday when he was a child. “He liked to say that he had not graduated from school but had escaped from church. But he and I were devout agnostics and considered religion to be for people who needed something to lean on. We only went to church for weddings, funerals and the odd christenings and were happy to keep it that way.”
B.D. related that they tried to trick the Christian gentleman with loaded questions. “We asked Serafino three questions: ‘Who do I have to give money to?,’ ‘Who’s church do I have to join?,’ and ‘What kind of religion is this?’ He didn’t quote any scripture, but said that Christianity wasn’t a religion because religion is man-made. We didn’t have anything in common, but invited him over for dinner a few times until he had to return to his office in West Virginia.”
The businessman sparked Mrs. Hyman’s curiosity about Christianity and she began watching “The 700 Club” and reading the Bible. “I was interested, but I wasn’t doing anything about it until a few weeks later,” she said. “It was 7:20 a.m., and I had just put my son on the bus. Suddenly, I was surrounded by the presence of Jesus and felt urged to make a solid commitment to Jesus Christ. I made a commitment, but didn’t tell Jeremy about it.”
She told her husband two nights later about her decision, but he viewed it as a temporary, emotional experience. “It was strange because we had been married for 20 years and this was the first time I stepped out and did something before my husband. We discussed Jesus a lot, and I asked him what it would take for him to believe. He said if I got healed of my back condition then he could believe.”
B.D. lived on pain pills and had a rare disease which rotted the ligaments in her back and caused them to literally wither away. “I was watching Pat Robertson on ‘The 700 Club’ when he began to pray for someone with my condition,” she explained. “He described my age, location, and back problem. The show had a one week tape delay, but I knew it was me he was talking about. I claimed it and was instantly healed!”
That same day she did some heavy lifting in her barn, and realized that she was healed. “I didn’t take any pills, and by the end of the day I did calisthenics. I was exhausted. But at home, when my husband Jeremy looked at me, he got teary-eyed and said, ‘The Lord is real.’ “ He soon became a Christian as a result of the miracle.
B.D. said her mother responded to her newly found faith by asking questions about Christianity. She even watched a few segments of “The 700 Club” because of her daughter’s testimony. However, the rift in their relationship continued to grow as B.D. grew in her faith. Eventually her mother stopped writing or calling her. In the meantime, the Hyman family moved to the Bahamas and joined an Assembly of God Church.
After a whirlwind three-week book tour for Mother’s Keeper, in which she was interviewed by U.S.A. Today, People, television talk show hosts, newscasters, and radio reporters, she returned to the Bahamas and began writing the sequel. “I wanted everyone, particularly Mother, to know that joy, to know that oneness with the universe and its Creator. It suddenly became important that I write to my mother. My book was in stores everywhere but it wasn’t enough. I had to let her know where I was and what I was doing. I had to remind her that nothing was over unless she wanted it to be over. I had to write to her and keep on writing.
“She wouldn’t answer my letters – I couldn’t even be certain that she would read them – but it was important to tell her that I loved her. Perhaps she would save the letters and take them out in moments of loneliness. She would know that I was still thinking of her. I wondered whether she would be angry that my life was better than ever and so full of joy. Would she try to figure out why? Was there really a chance that something, sometime, would awaken in her the knowledge that there was a gaping lack in her life?
“… What can convince her that we have to measure up now in order to inherit the future? What can convince her that fame cannot work a ticket to heaven, that Oscars will not fit the keyhole? What can possibly convince her that the only way is to say, ‘I accept you, Jesus, as my personal Lord and Savior?”
“I don’t know what will convince her, and it doesn’t matter that I don’t know. God knows … I won’t preach – I won’t even try to witness – I’ll just let her know what’s going on in my life and that I love her. Publishing my book has solved my problem but not hers. Praying for her isn’t enough. The least I can do is give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work in her through the expression of my love.”
Today, B.D. and her family reside in Charlottesville, Virginia and her husband, Jeremy, is an illustrator of children’s books.
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