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Nancy Heche is a Model of Faith and Perseverance


By now you have certainly heard the news that the actress, Anne Heche, has died after driving her car at 90 mph into the home of an unsuspecting individual in Los Angeles. Anne was 53, and leaves behind two sons, Homer (age 20) and Atlas (age 13).

Anne’s mother, Nancy, and Anne’s older sister, Abigail, have become two of my wife’s and my closest friends. We first met them in 1998 when they attended a conference we hosted in Kansas City. Something clicked, and we’ve been incredibly close ever since.

Why is Nancy Heche a model of faith and perseverance? Why has she become a hero to me? And I should add Abigail into this as well. It is no exaggeration to say that I’ve never known a woman like Nancy who has suffered so extensively and yet remains so exuberantly devoted to Jesus Christ. Let me explain.

Nancy’s first husband, Don, was a worship leader in fundamentalist baptist churches until it was discovered that he was living a double life. Don was a homosexual and died of AIDS in 1983. To say that Nancy and the family were devastated hardly needs to be stated.

The first child of Nancy and Don was Susan, born on May 5, 1957. Susan wrote a book titled, Anonymity, that spoke in detail, among other things, of her father’s lifestyle and death. She died of brain cancer on January 1, 2006. My wife and I attended her memorial service in Chicago and wept and prayed with Nancy and Abigail.

Susan’s husband, Judson Bergman, was very dear to Nancy. He was killed in a car accident in San Francisco in 2016, together with his second wife, Mary.

Nancy’s second daughter, Cynthia, was born on August 26, 1961. She passed away two months later, on October 26, 1961, from a heart defect.

A son, Nathan, was born to Nancy and Don on April 21, 1965. Three months after Don’s death, on June 4, 1983, Nathan was killed in a one-car crash. He was scheduled to enroll at Wheaton College, where I taught for four years, but obviously never made it there. He was only 18-years old.

Abigail, who shares a birthday with my wife, Ann, was born on August 7, 1966. She is an incredibly successful jewelry designer and, like her mother, a devoted follower of Jesus.

The youngest of Nancy’s children, Anne, was born on May 25, 1969. As you know, she died on August 12, 2022.

Anne was already an accomplished actress (having won an Emmy in 1991) when she entered a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres in 1997. Nancy has always held to an orthodox view of the authority of Scripture and could not bring herself to endorse Anne’s lesbian lifestyle. This effectively severed their relationship, although Nancy’s love for Anne never waned.

After many years of living alone, Nancy married again in December of 2008. I was blessed to co-officiate at the wedding. But then her husband, Bob, died of a sudden heart attack five years later in September of 2013 while on the golf course.

So, in sum, Nancy has lost two husbands, four children, and a beloved son-in-law. She is now 86 years old, having earned, in 2003, her doctorate in pastoral counseling and psychotherapy from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. She is actively engaged in local church ministry and has proven to be an outstanding counselor and Bible teacher.

When news of Anne’s accident broke, my wife and I spent considerable time on the phone with Nancy and Abigail. I can honestly say that we were more encouraged and blessed than they were. Their undying faith in Christ and their refusal to doubt his goodness is something to behold. Neither Nancy nor Abigail have grown bitter. That isn’t to say they understand the tragic losses in their family. It is only to say that in the midst of incredible tragedies, their confident trust in the kindness and sovereignty of God has not diminished.

I feel I should say something about Abigail as well. You may recall how Job’s wife responded when devastation struck their family. We tend to elevate Job as a model of endurance but criticize his wife. But let us never forget that when Job lost all his children, she lost all hers too. When Job lost his wealth and property, she lost hers too. When Nancy was losing her family, Abigail was losing hers too. She lost four siblings, a father, a stepfather, and a brother-in-law. But what neither Abigail nor Nancy lost was the love of God and the promise of eternal life. No amount of loss, no tragedy, no emotional suffering could ever sever them from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

There are countless men and women all around the country who have been blessed and loved and encouraged by their resilient and confident reliance on the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for them. Ann and I are honored to include ourselves among this multitude.

We live in a day, perhaps like none other, when professing Christians are turning away from the Lord and falling into devastating doubt about whether he is truly who he claimed to be and can do what he has promised to do. Nancy and Abigail are not among them. Yes, they have suffered tremendous loss. Yes, they have shed many tears. Yes, they have struggled in the depths of their spirits to cling to Christ in spite of the confusion and anguish such losses have inflicted.

But what has sustained and strengthened them through it all is the rock-solid assurance that no matter how loosely they, at times, find themselves holding on to Jesus, his grip on them has never diminished in the least. In Romans 8, the apostle Paul spoke of countless threats to the life and spiritual safety of God’s people. He mentioned such things as tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, and danger, yet assures us that none of these can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:35). If that were not enough, he goes on to promise the Christian that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation [not even the devastating loss of children, spouses, siblings, or in-laws] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

If you are wondering how all this is possible, Paul tells us that we are more than conquerors over all such threats to our faith “through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). It is Christ Jesus in Nancy and Abigail who upholds them and keeps them secure and pledges his eternal and undying love for them.

So, let me close by simply saying to these two remarkable ladies, Thank you! Thank you for your example of perseverance in the face of unimaginable obstacles. Thank you for the way you have prayed for me and my wife. Thank you for standing firm when it would have been so easy and understandable for you to throw in the towel and walk away from the Lord. Thank you for exalting and extolling our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you!

Sam and Ann Storms


Thank you for this caring article. I will be praying for Abigail and Nancy. When I read about Anne Heche, I saw on an online source the way her name was pronounced. I remember my grandmother who died in 2002 at age 99, telling me several years ago about a store owner in Vera Cruz Indiana, who used to come around to the neighboring farms with his huckster wagon when she was a very small girl. I remember her giving the same pronunciation to his last name as Anne's last name, even though she did not know the spelling. She remembered wonderful anecdotes about this man. When she and her siblings would see him coming down the road, they would run to shut the gate at the end of their farm lane. That way when he turned in, he would give them a piece of candy if they would open the gate for him. It wasn't until recently that I tried to research this man and finally found his name to be Emmanuel "Heche". When I heard how Anne pronounced her name, I wondered if there was a connection. In short, I found out that this huckster was Anne's great grandfather. Furthermore, her grandmother on her dad's side is my grandmother's second cousin, both descended from Benedict Baumgartner. This makes me Anne Heche's fourth cousin. I will be praying for this family, may God bless and comfort them.
Good morning This was such a good read. Love and comfort to all involved. Jesus walks with us all through fire and valleys and is there waiting for us to call on him for help and guidance
So thankful to hear the strength of this testimony. I believe the faith and intercession of these two family members have accomplished things we don't know yet. Those prayers reach to impossible situations...my prayer is also that those lost prematurely had a chance to turn to Him.
Thanks so much for sharing this. I have been praying specially for Nancy, the mother of Anne Heche, and now too her sister, Abigail. I also prayed for Anne from the moment I learned of her car crash, asking Jesus to be merciful to her and reveal Himself to her as Savior before she died. Please pass along my love to these women of faith.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story about these wonderful people. It helps me, and countless others keep life in perspective.
God is good.
Terri Kyle
Dear Sam and Ann,

Thank you so much for this beautiful tribute to Nancy and Abigail. It is a delight to have been in close fellowship with all of you surrounding our wedding in 2004. We have been praying for Nancy and Abigail in yet another tragedy through which they must grieve. Their faith is remarkable and a testament to the Savior who we serve that bears our burdens and is Himself well-acquainted with grief. How I long for the day when He will wipe every tear from our eyes and pain and sorrow will be no more.

Love and prayers for you all!
~Amy (Smith) Bassett
I find as I face tragedies, difficult times, shortcomings, feeling of uncertainty I am drawn closer to God.....praying for his help, guidance, strength and trying to walk with Him every day.
Does she have a website to follow
Thank you for sharing this beautiful post about these ladies, sisters in Christ. I’m very sorry for their loss as well as yours. He truly is glorified through their testimonies and now also through your post. He will be with you all in this most difficult season. My prayers are with the family and friends who lost Ann.

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