The Christian Broadcasting Network

The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Jeff Oliphant

Freelance producer and songwriter

In the process of starting his own foundations which will help people with cleft lips and palates complete their surgical processes

Member of Harvest Fire
Worship Center, volunteers with various outreaches to the community

Graduated Cum Laude from
American Intercontinental University 2004, B.A. Business Administration


Jeff Oliphant: The Gift of a Perfect Smile

The 700 Club

Jeff Oliphant was born the last of eight children in a Jamaican family – the only one American born, born with a bilateral cleft lip. He had a total of ten surgeries to repair his cleft lip from the time he was a baby. On December 28, 2004, he received his final surgery from the ABC show Extreme Makeover. His case was such a challenge that Extreme Makeover's plastic surgeon, Dr. Anthony Griffin, almost turned Jeff away. Jeff's story is one of true faith and perseverance for both the patient and his family and the surgeon.

Because Jeff's family struggled with poverty and homelessness and had already paid for other surgeries, they couldn't afford the final one. It was not covered by insurance because it was considered cosmetic, though Medicaid said they would cover a portion of it. Then one day Jeff's brother saw the show Extreme Makeover and told Jeff to watch it. The episode Jeff saw featured a woman with a cleft palate, and Jeff thought that they could probably handle his case. He did some online research to see what type of show Extreme Makeover was – he didn't want to be on an exploitative show. Jeff saw that it was okay and was comfortable with it, so he proceeded to send in a videotape of himself to the show. At first, the show wasn't going to take him because of the complexity of his case. Just when Jeff thought he wasn't going to be on the show, six months later they called him. Even when he did get on the show, Jeff was worried when Dr. Griffin wasn't sure the procedure would work. With prayer from both Jeff and his family and Dr. Griffin, they went ahead with the surgery which turned out to be a success.

Jeff has found that some Christians who have a cleft palate or other deformities feel guilty for getting corrective surgeries –they feel like they should stay the way God made them. Jeff says they should be happy the way they are, but if there is a way to correct their problem, they should do it – they should do whatever they need to do to be happy.

Jeff grew up in the church. He accepted the Lord at about eight or nine years old. He had wondered why God made him the way he was. His family wouldn't let him feel sorry for himself. They told him he was special and treated him like nothing was wrong with him. Jeff had confidence and a good attitude, but felt like he had to work harder. Jeff says he had to prove himself. His teachers thought he was slow because of the cleft lip and palate.

After the surgery he didn't necessarily have more confidence, but he felt like there was nothing holding him back. He had more options available after surgery. For example, he is now doing some modeling – something that he would not have done before. His family and friends treated him the same. With strangers is where Jeff saw a real difference – he didn't have to prove himself as much based on first appearances. Jeff has more acceptance and a more positive reaction from other people. He feels that now people can see him for who he truly is.

Looking back, Jeff knew God had something for him. His family always had faith that in due time God would provide an answer. They kept praying and stood in faith. Jeff sees that truly God is love and that going through his trial and experiencing God's love and faithfulness was a world of difference from just reading or hearing about it in scripture. It has happened – Jeff saw God's answer to his prayer. He and his family prayed and worked diligently toward God's answers for them. Now Jeff knows that God has fulfilled his promises before and He will do it again. Through this whole experience, Jeff grew and experienced another level of faith.

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