On our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Finding Hope in the Messiah,” we’re listening to Lily Isaacs – vocalist and matriarch of the southern gospel and bluegrass group The Isaacs – share her testimony.
Lily was born in Europe after World War II to two Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors who moved the family to the United States when Lily was two years old. She grew up in the Bronx, NY and studied theater and performed off Broadway. In 1968, under the name Lily and Maria, she and a friend recorded a psychedelic folk album on Columbia Records.
In 1971, a death in the family brought Lily and her husband Joe to church for the first time, and she became a Christian. They soon began singing Christian music, laying the groundwork for what would become The Isaacs – a family singing ministry that has spanned five decades, won nine Dove Awards, and earned three Grammy nominations.
But Lily’s journey hasn’t been easy. When her Jewish family learned that she had converted to Christianity, they rejected her.
Her father – who loved her so deeply that he hobbled up and down the streets of New York in the early morning hours after working all night in search of bread for his family – said, “I would rather see you dead and buried in the grave than to be a reproach to our family and our people.”
Her mother told Lily that she never wanted to see her again unless she gave up her Christian beliefs.
A 30-year breast cancer survivor, Lily was the inspiration for a hit country song called I’m Gonna Love You Through It, recorded by Martina McBride.
Lily says of her struggles, “Jesus became my father. Jesus became my mother. Jesus became my very dearest friend. So often we go through trials, and we don’t know why. Then we look back and realize it’s the tough times that make us shine like gold.”