New book follows Powers from the glitz of Hollywood to preaching in Lahaina
KAHANA – It was a book in the works for 27 years. When it was finally finished and published a few weeks ago, relieved and over-joyed, author Beverly J. Powers “wept for three days.”
“Passing the Baton of Light,” the autobiography of the West Maui resident, tells her remarkable life story of 25 years in Hollywood with its many pitfalls involved. She also shares her experiences as a preacher of the Gospel for another 25 years in Hawaii.
Powers is shockingly frank about her abused childhood and pedophile stepfather; her marriage gone bad but later healed; of her wayward, but recovered son; and of a family with relationship problems – all restored, she said, with help from above.
She said she wanted to write the book to show how her newfound faith and religion gave her a purpose for living despite impossible circumstances and situations.
“I wanted people to know that there is no darkness in life that God’s light can’t outshine,” she commented.
Having made three films with Elvis Presley, she also landed roles in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Days of Wine and Roses” and many other films.
She did scores of television shows with noted performers such as Red Skelton and Jack Benny, and Powers acted on stage in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “The Women,” and “Lil Abner.” She has numerous photos in the book documenting her career.
She became quite successful and seemingly was living a glamorous life. But the stardom couldn’t offset the personal pain she had experienced.
“However,” she stated, “I had a dear praying grandmother who believed strongly in God and the plans that He had for me. ‘Mamo,’ as I called her, had taken me to church as a child and dedicated me to the Lord when I was only 12 years old. But, by the time I was a teenager, I had strayed away from the church.”
In her book, Powers shares a number of miracles that happened in her life.
“In 1957,” for instance, “I was thrown from my car in a terrible auto accident. The car spun around and came racing toward me at a high rate of speed, when it abruptly stopped – as if it had hit an invisible wall. It began teetering back and forth over my head. I could see the underbelly of the fender. My long hair had to be cut from under the tire by the ambulance driver in order for me to be freed and taken to the hospital. If the car had come a few inches more, I wouldn’t be here today.
“Years later, it became obvious that I had a responsibility to share my miracles with others. I truly believe we aren’t given such blessings to hoard them. I had to write the book.”
In her autobiography, Powers speaks of her marriage to her high school sweetheart, Billy, and the despair she experienced during their seven-year separation.
“After 22 years of marriage, for the first time in my life, I was totally alone. I was living in a 2,100-square-foot home on the Santa Clara River in California with my Doberman Pincer, Gabriel. My sons had moved to Hawaii, where Billy was living. My heart was broken. I became extremely despondent – filled with anguish and sorrow. I actually became suicidal thinking of ways I could end it all. That’s when I cried out to God to help me. And, He did,” she said.
“I was led to sell my home, which became another miracle. My home sold within three days for the highest sales price in our area. I was given the way and means to move to Maui to be near my sons where later, my marriage was restored.
“Shortly after arriving in Hawaii, I met the local Baptist minister and was told the layperson that conducted the Sunday morning outreach church service for them, at the Sheraton Maui, was leaving the island and asked if I would be interested in taking over. Knowing my background, I felt this had to be some cosmic joke. But it wasn’t. He was serious. Moments later, I heard myself saying, ‘Yes.’ From then on, each Sunday morning, I would share the Biblical lessons I learned the week before from reading the Bible. I continued doing this for the next 25 years.”
In her book, Powers shares her experiences as being part of the Maui County Correctional Center ministry and the chaplaincy at Maui Memorial Medical Center.
She co-pastored at Lahuiokalani Church in Honokowai for seven years and founded the Chapel at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. For seven years, she led the Sunday Church service at KBH, reaching more than 10,000 people during that time.
In 2011, she stepped down from the pulpit to focus on completing her book. She handed the chapel over to Pastor Laki Ka’ahumanu, who she called the great, great grandson of Queen Ka’ahumanu.
“Passing the Baton of Light” is published by Westbow Press and can be ordered through them, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble or at your favorite bookstore.