Danette Crawford’s Message to You: Determination and Focus to Get to the Finish Line
Adventure and optimism infused with compassion and tenacity. That’s just a starting point of all that is Danette Crawford, a best-selling author, national and international speaker, TV and podcast host, and graduate of Regent University’s M.A. in Counseling program. Danette is also the founder of Joy Ministries Evangelistic Association, a nonprofit operating 23 outreach arms from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Did we mention that she served as an inner-city expert on a HUD special committee under the Trump administration, and her community outreach model is now used nationally?
Danette and her relentless calling to meet the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of others for God’s glory have been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, the 700 Club, Daystar, TBN, and other networks and in numerous newspapers and magazines. Her teaching program Hope for Today has been broadcast in over 250 million homes weekly for more than two decades. And her newest interview-style program, Joy with Danette Crawford, is broadcast weekly into billions of homes, targeting people from all walks of life who don’t yet know Jesus but are looking for hope to break free from bondage. What makes Joy extra joyous is that Danette and executive producer Clifton Davis launched the program in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe. “By God’s grace, we were able to continue building our new TV studio and produce our shows,” she says.
Leaning into God’s grace is something familiar to Danette. She began building her international television ministry and national outreach organization in her teens and early 20s and continued all while raising her daughter as a single mom. She explains, “The heart of everything I do is to show others that they can overcome any difficulty that comes their way. The very struggles that I had to overcome served as the catalyst for all that God allows me to do today.” She says the title of one of her books, Don’t Quit in the Pit, sums up her testimony as she fought to break free from insecurity and rejection.
Going Backward to Move Forward
The first person in her family to receive Christ as Savior (at age 17), Danette learned early on how to go against the grain gracefully. When she announced at age 19 that she was called to preach, not to become a lawyer, she again learned to be good with marching to the beat of a different drum.
“Then I became a youth pastor and evangelist in a time and denomination when women preachers were rare,” she says. “I knew my job wasn’t to understand everything but to obey.” Yet, as she considered the giftings of others in ministry around her, she hesitated briefly on how her heart for ministry would play out. “They could sing, play piano, all kinds of things that I couldn’t do. It was unnerving. That’s when God told me that my gift is determination. He told me, ‘I’ve given you the gift that you need most. Trust Me.’”
And so, she put that determination to good use when God told her to come to Regent in 1987. Danette had started traveling as an evangelist at 21, in the middle of her undergraduate program. God spoke to her then to pursue a master’s in counseling immediately after completing her bachelor’s program. “It made no sense to me. I was ready to go out to win the world for Jesus as an evangelist, but God had other plans.” Danette worked as a waitress to pay her way through graduate school and used the tip money to put gas in her car on the weekends so she could preach revivals and return to college using part of any “love offering” she received. To this day, Danette considers herself an evangelist who ministers. “I tell you with confidence that going through Regent’s counseling program is what really taught me how to care for people, not just preach at them,” she says. “Some programs give you the technical skills, and Regent certainly did that with excellence, but Regent is also distinctively Christian, and that makes all the difference. I learned empathy, compassion and how to apply great faith in God the Healer and Restorer.”
She had served in ministry for several years when she met the man who would become her husband while attending church. Just five days before the birth of their daughter, he announced that he was leaving her. He died when her daughter was four, and Danette also became a widow.
“I would never have chosen that plan for me or my daughter, but it taught me the very real needs of single moms and gave me compassion that I believe is supernatural,” she shares. “Everything I write about or talk about or put into action through community outreach comes from a place of empathy, empowerment, and hope in Christ.”
Pure Religion One Step at a Time
Danette admits that she never planned to have 23 outreach programs. They were born out of one step of obedience at a time. “God would show me a need. I would never have the resources or know how to do it. But he would guide and provide, and that continues to be our system,” she says.
“Everything I write about or talk about or put into action through community outreach comes from a place of empathy, empowerment, and hope in Christ.”
For the Joy Ministries team of 13 to 20 staff members and hundreds of volunteers, their mission field starts in their own backyard and extends to the nations. “The Word of God clearly shows us God’s heart for the poor and needy, the fatherless children, and the widows. We believe that as we invest in lives, through education and character development, we will help these marginalized and vulnerable groups break free from the cycle of poverty,” she says.
From that mindset, Joy Ministries programs launched by providing housing for the homeless, single mothers and children. Today these and other outreaches are part of the ministry:
- Single Mom’s Life Group
- Father’s House Programs
- Adopted Neighborhoods in low-income, high-crime areas
- Kid’s Clubs and Mentorship Programs
- Bread of Life Feeding Programs
- Mother’s Day Celebration
- Holiday of Hope Outreaches
- Back-to-School Supplies for 2,000 children
- Lighthouse Learning Centers after school homework assistance and private tutoring
- Feeding Fridays
- Summer Feeding Program
The challenges of COVID-19 presented the newest opportunity for God to demonstrate a need and Danette to step into His solution. “I was outside of the continental United States and had a long, long, long flight home, so I began to pray. That’s when God began to tell and show me things that our kids were going through,” she explains. “He was showing me domestic violence at home, kids being depressed, some locked in their house, and many of them abused. So, my team and I made a plan to ensure all the children in our adopted neighborhoods were fed during the pandemic. That program served 1,300 kids each week.”
One of the aspects of the community outreach programs that Danette loves most is that, since it is based on adopted neighborhoods, she and her volunteers can bring consistency to the children and parents over the years, not just days or weeks” “We see them grow up, taking them all the way into their God-given full potential and mentoring them.”
Her Not-So-Secret Weapons
People often ask Danette how she manages all the moving parts of her life and ministry. Without hesitation, her answer is “Prayer.”
“Everything I do comes out of that. I’m telling you that I spend so much time in prayer and get my marching orders from God every day. Then, and only then, it all works. I apply determination, but He does it all.”
Danette also believes we can use our determination to take us “just about wherever we want to go.” But when we’re surrendered to God and give him complete “soul control,” she says, “our daily obedience gets us to the finish line. If you don’t have focus, you’ll never finish. And if you don’t have determination, you’ll never get started. So that’s been a real key that God has taught me.”