NASHVILLE (BP)—With more than 50 million subscribers, YouTube sensation Dude Perfect is one of the most notable names in social media entertainment.
Yet, for group member Tyler Toney and his wife Bethany, the success of the Dude Perfect subsequently led to the feelings of jealousy, bitterness and heartbreak within in their marriage.
It was only within the last couple years that Tyler found redemption, healed his marriage and began to see Dude Perfect as a gospel platform.
“Tyler just puts Christ at the center of everything in our family now, whereas before he didn’t do that” Bethany Toney said.
“He’s just a whole new person. I remember telling my Mom, ‘I feel like I’m married to a new person, and it’s weird, and I’m having to get used to it. Every decision he makes now, it’s a prayerful one. He’s leading our family, talking to our kids about Christ and just little things that make me go ‘ok this is worth the fight.’”
The couple shares their full story in the latest “I Am Second” video—a series featuring interviews with a variety of Christian celebrities about their personal testimony.
The Toneys were married in 2011, around the time Dude Perfect’s success began to take off.
Things began for the group of five former Texas A&M roommates when they simply uploaded a video of themselves making basketball trick shots to YouTube for other friends to see. The video went viral, and was shown on Good Morning America. Brands deals and opportunities started pouring in.
“That was unbelievable exciting for us, and at the same we just had absolutely no idea what we were getting into,” Tyler said.
After some initial hesitation from Bethany, Tyler and the group decided to all quit their jobs and pursue making video content as Dude Perfect full-time.
Dude Perfect’s success skyrocketed over the next several years. To date, the group has more than 50 million YouTube subscribers, putting them in the top 25 creators on the platform.
They have filmed videos with athletes and celebrities such as Aaron Rodgers, Paul Rudd, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Drew Brees and Serena Williams. Brands deals and sponsorships for the group include GMC, Bass Pro Shops and Nike.
One of their latest ventures featured a streaming broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime.
But as Dude Perfect began to experience its success more than a decade ago, Bethany was back at home struggling with jealousy and infertility.
“His (Tyler’s) success really took off at a time when I felt God was calling us to start a family,” Bethany said. “We started trying for a baby, and I miscarried several times. It was just devastating to me, and heartbreaking.”
“I’m watching my husband be on top of the world doing all these really cool things, where I’m at home in pain, and just heartbroken and confused and angry. I was just so angry at God during that season of our life because I just felt like God was ignoring me, and that he wasn’t hearing my requests for things.”
Looking back, Tyler acknowledges his missteps as a husband and father.
“I very much had the attitude of, ‘ok we’ve got to make hay while the sun’s shining’ because there’s no telling how long these opportunities are going to last,” Tyler Toney said.
“I’m not sure that I managed it the best as far as a family perspective of making Bethany a priority. I think early on I put more emphasis on and more weight on these Dude Perfect opportunities. I think early on our families kind of got put on the backburner.”
The Toneys eventually had three children, but that did not stop the growing division and bitterness between them.
It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that the couple reached a boiling point.
After this particularly difficult season, Bethany said her husband approached her saying “I don’t think I’ve really ever had a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
“Hearing him say that kind of put everything in perspective for me because that was kind of the one thing we had been missing in our marriage was him being that spiritual leader and to put Christ first in our marriage. That shift alone kind of was the pivot for us moving forward.”
Toney began hosting a men’s bible study every week at his house, which he called “irreplaceable” in his Christian walk.
The next step in his journey was beginning to see Dude Perfect as a platform for not the group’s individual success, but for Gospel ministry.
Tyler describes a clear call from the Lord to preach the full gospel message to thousands on each stop of Dude Perfect’s next countrywide tour.
“I kind of wrestled with that for a couple days, and was like ‘are you sure that’s what you’re telling me?,’” Tyler said.
“I remember the very first show it was so uncomfortable and so outside my comfort zone. I got off stage and I just broke down crying because it was just that overwhelming sense of like ‘this is what you’re supposed to be doing. This is why I gave you this platform … this is why I’ve given you the talents and abilities and the success that you’ve had is for this.’”
With a renewed marriage and mission, Toney said moving forward the group wants to continue to spiritually influence the massive audience.
“I think at this point in Dude Perfect, we see it as just that—an incredible opportunity to reach a group of people, especially families, especially young boys who may not have a lot to look up to, or may not get a sense of community from anything else in their lives. We feel this immense amount of responsibility to them to kind of keep doing this and kind of take this as long as God’s allows us to have this platform.”
This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.