Things were not going well for Chip and Kim McAllister.
After helping to build an information technology consulting firm into a multimillion-dollar corporation and moving into their dream home in Orange County, their cozy world suddenly began to collapse.
The California couple lost their business in what they claim was a betrayal by their partners, which led to the bank foreclosing on their home.
We were in lowest point of our life. We were in a completely devastated state, Mr. McAllister said in an interview this week. But we just kept the faith.
That faith was not always easy to hold on to, however.
The couple, who have been married 25 years and have three children, prayed for wisdom and guidance.
Mr. McAllister said he asked repeatedly: Why, God, Why us? This was the dream house you promised us. Why are you doing this?
The answer to their plight came from an unusual and completely unexpected source: a television reality show.
At the suggestion of friends, Chip and Kim applied to compete in the fifth season of The Amazing Race, an Emmy Award-winning CBS-TV show in which couples travel around the world vying for a first-place prize of $1 million.
The McAllisters will tell their story of faith and inspiration at three morning services tomorrow at CrossRoads Community Church in Temperance, which is also hosting its Ninth Annual Car Show.
Mr. McAllister said he had never watched The Amazing Race before applying to be on the show, but felt certain that he and his wife would be picked from among the thousands of applicants.
I ll tell you, it was just God. I knew we were going to get on, he said. There was not even one glitch or hitch or anything in the process of getting on. But I had no idea we were going to win.
Starting in January, 2004, the McAllisters traveled 72,000 miles as they circled the globe in beating 11 other two-person teams to the finish line, earning the million-dollar prize.
Today, Chip and Kim McAllister are back on their feet financially, counting their blessings, and grateful that a reality show enabled them to pursue their dream of helping others.
We definitely feel we were put on this Earth to edify and uplift and encourage people, Mrs. McAllister said.
Mr. McAllister concurred: Kim and I are all about edifying and lifting people up and helping them live their lives without limits.
According to a CBS poll, Chip and Kim are the most popular of all six Amazing Race winners.
The couple are in demand for speaking engagements at churches, schools, and corporate and private functions, are featured in the current Bravo channel program Battle of the Network Reality Stars, and are putting the finishing touches on a book that offers inspiration and insight on marriage and life.
Mr. McAllister, 48, speaks with infectious energy and enthusiasm about the opportunities now available to him and Kim, 45, and said he realizes that if it were not for losing their business, the couple never would have applied for the televised race.
It was necessary for us to go through that hard time because there was never, ever a time in our lives when it would have been a responsible thing for us to take off and participate in The Amazing Race, Mr. McAllister said. But this catapulted us into our destiny.
The Rev. Glenn Teal, lead pastor of CrossRoads Community Church, is a fan of the show and of the McAllisters.
The more I learn about Chip and Kim, the more excited I am about them coming to our church, Mr. Teal said.
He said the couple s faith was evident while watching them compete in The Amazing Race.
When they were in tight jams, Chip would pray, Oh Jesus, help me. I need the blood of Jesus! Mr. Teal said.
Mr. McAllister admitted to being surprised when the network broadcast his overtly religious comments.
When I was struggling and saying things like, Jesus, you have to help me, they not only left that in, but they put in subtitles! he said.
His wife jibed: Oh yeah, he wasn t physically in shape so he had to have help from God!
The couple never compromised their faith to get an edge on the competition, but did make some tough calls during the race. At one point, the McAllisters decided to yield the team of Colin and Christie, forcing them to wait a predetermined amount of time before they could move on.
When I yielded Colin, I felt quote-unquote bad about that because I love Colin like my little brother, Mr. McAllister said. But we were trying to win the game, and he s the strongest player ever to play the game. So I didn t feel bad about the morals of the move. I felt like it was the smartest thing I ve ever done. But I felt bad because I love Colin. I don t feel like there was ever a time where I did something bad or cheated.
The McAllisters, who are suing their former business partners in an attempt to regain their share of the business they founded, are working hard to finish their book by a self-imposed deadline of November, but beyond that are unsure what lies ahead.
I have no idea what God is going to do, Mr. McAllister said, but I know he s going to do some awesome, awesome stuff.
Chip and Kim McAllister will speak at the 9, 10:30, and 11:55 a.m. services tomorrow at CrossRoads Community Church, 1590 West Temperance Rd., Temperance, and will be guests at the church s Ninth Annual Car Show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information: 734-847-4135 or online at www.excitingchurch.com. More information on the McAllisters is available online at www.chipandkim.tv.
Contact David Yonke at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.