Q&A with Pastor Jay Haizlip: "I'm the Same On and Off the Platform"

By Oxygen

Pastor Jay Haizlip doesn't have any secrets. In fact, his controversial backstory plays an enormous role in his ministry today. A former cocaine addict, Haizlip lost his furniture, clothes, car, and almost his wife Christy to his habit. While on his way to score, he came upon a friend who told him to pray. After years of failed treatments, something finally clicked. He gave up the stuff and resigned himself to God. From then on, he would spread the word to other hurting souls -- with the lovely Christy by his side. In this Q&A, the Pastor talks about why he's so open about his backstory. He also talks about his relationship with his wife Christy, the changing face of churches, and what we'll learn about Jay Haizlip on Preachers of L.A., premiering October 9 at 10/9c! 

What will we get to see in Pastor Jay Haizlip that we might not see on the pulpit?

I don’t necessarily think there’s this side or that side, because I’m a very transparent person anyway. What you see on the platform is who I am behind closed doors. People in our church who stay for any length of time realize that I’m the same on the platform and off.

What is the one thing you want viewers to know about your involvement in the show?

For me, the show is an indirect way for people to sit in a safe environment, to watch a guy who believes what I believe, watch me live it out and apply what I teach other people to my own life, and hopefully they’ll be inspired by it. They’ll learn from it, and the greatest scenario would be if people get drawn closer to God from it.

How has the show affected your relationship with the other Pastors?

I did not know them personally before the show. I knew who several of them were, but I didn’t know them personally. Even though we flew in and out of the same sort of areas ,our paths had never crossed. As a result of the show, we know each other, and some of them I now consider my friends. I’ve developed a relationship with them that will last longer than the show. It’s our commonality that brings us together. We’re about the same thing! It’s a kindred spirit with some of these guys. It’s not just ‘what can I get from you?’ it’s ‘hey, I actually like you!’  

Do you still skateboard a lot?

Not as much as I’d like to! I do still skateboard, though. With family, with church, now the show…there comes a point where you have to say ‘something’s gotta give.’ 

You’re very open about your backstory, involving drug use and your previous addiction to cocaine. What made you decide to be open about it?  

Well I think that as a minister, it’s important that I keep it real. I don’t think people need for me to come off with a fake story, like I grew up in a perfect family and never had any problems went off to bible college became a pastor and now I lead a congregation. No. I think people need someone they can look at, someone whom God has brought out of something. That doesn’t mean every ministry needs to do what I’ve done, but because I’m transparent and real in my experience, it gives a lot of people hope. I think that’s what our church is successful at, it reaches a lot of diverse people. We reach a lot of addicts. They come here and they’ve found freedom like I found freedom because I give them hope. They look at me and believe they can change.

You and your wife Christy seem to make a great team. What is the secret to making marriage work?  

 Well Christy and I have been married for 26 years. I was a cocaine addict for 12 years, and you don’t live that kind of life without it creating hurt and pain and problems. I’m very fortunate that she didn’t leave me. Two years after she met me, that’s when God came out of my life and Jesus changed me. There was a process, we had to heal to get over those things. But, I guess the real key is, we’re just committed! We’re committed to making this thing work. We work on our marriage. Like  everyone else we have good and bad days. We have days when we don’t get along. We have days when we’re not that great. Then we have days when we’re all emoji icon love-eyes for one another. 

Some Pastors have said that the church is really changing, that it’s becoming aslightly more progressive. Would you agree, and do you think these changes have allowed for stories like yours to become acceptable at the pulpit?

Definitely. I don’t know if I can speak for all churches, but definitely there are many churches that are progressive. They understand the times, the culture, and therefore because they understand that, they know how to connect to that. Part of my life coming to Jesus was that I lived in that culture. People in my church know I come from it. They can tell I’m familiar with it. I can relate to them. I think it’s important that wherever we are, you have to relate to culture. I think we can do that without compromising our integrity, our scripture and who God is. God is not afraid of modern-day culture. If God has put a church in a community, God intends it to be your audience.

Watch Jay Haizlip tell his story in this exclusive interview!

Tune into 'Preachers of L.A.' premiering Oct. 9 at 10/9c!


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