MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, July 17th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham.
Over the last few years we’ve heard well-known pastors, authors and musicians make abrupt shifts in their Christian walk, severing relationships and renouncing Christ.
Myrna recently met a Christian singer and songwriter who started young but is determined to finish well. Here’s her story.
SONG: Jesus Loves the Little Children
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: The oldest of seven children, Rebecca Smallbone spent the first decade of her life in Sydney, Australia.
REBECCA ST. JAMES: I also grew up very much around the Christian music scene because my dad was a Christian music promoter. So, I went to my first concert when I was six weeks old in the Sydney Opera House.
Along with the love of music, the Smallbones also taught their children to pursue godly disciplines, like purity.
ST. JAMES: I think my parents were always just really upfront about how God’s way is just the best. They talked about the consequences of sin, but it wasn’t super heavy handed. It was more just they appealed to me and my siblings in the area of wisdom. We waited so we want to encourage you to as well because it worked for us.
Rebecca stood firmly on that foundation. When her family relocated to Nashville in 1991, the 14-year-old began writing Christian songs. By the time she turned 16, she was singing professionally as Rebecca St. James.
ST. JAMES: So that’s actually my grandfather’s name and his name is James. He was a wonderful, amazing man of God. It was really an honor to use that name.
In 1994, 17-year-old St. James released her first commercial recording. Four years and two additional albums later, she won a Grammy for Best Rock/Gospel Album. Then, at 23, she wrote and released the song Wait For Me. She calls it her anthem.
ST. JAMES: It’s a song that I wrote about my future husband way before I met him. And it’s a song about purity. It was really tied to my heart to encourage not only myself, but people who would listen to just live in purity in relationships.
In 2002 Wait for Me was nominated song of the year by the Gospel Music Association. St. James also published a book, journal and study guide, all inspired by that one song.
ST. JAMES: There’s a line in that song it says I want to be now and always faithful to you. So, it’s like when you practice purity before marriage, you are prepping yourself for faithfulness in marriage.
But after more than a decade of singing her signature hit she was still single. St. James says she became anxious and often experienced stress on stage.
ST. JAMES: I was so committed to purity and all in on the concept, it wasn’t like I was going to throw in the towel with some guy. It was more of just the internal conflict of saying I’m waiting and praying for you darling. I think it was more the question of will this happen? Will this ever happen?
Heading into her thirties, St. James says she also faced another possibility.
ST. JAMES: I’ll probably meet a wonderful man, but he may not have waited for me and he might have gone through a challenging time at some point in his life where he questioned the value of purity.
But in 2010 St. James met bassist Jacob Fink through mutual friends. After a Christmas Day proposal, on Easter weekend 2011, the couple married.
AUDIO: I have to say, with all my heart, marriage is the best gift of God ever, in my life…
They spent the first few years of matrimony on the road sharing their story and encouraging others.
ST. JAMES: A lot of people that I’ve spoken to have regrets in that area, the relational part. And so, I just wanted to speak to the forgiveness of God. Because we all need the forgiveness of God. All of us have fallen short.
After two decades of singing professionally, St. James took a seven year break from full-time music ministry to start a family. They’re raising two little girls and a baby brother due in August.
ST. JAMES: My schedule had been very, very intense for a long time and I just think I didn’t know that margin was such an important thing. But I really needed that time to just focus on family and our kids and our marriage and just be all in on living that dream that I wanted for so long. It was lovely.
SONG: The Battle is the Lord’s
Today, 43-year-old St. James is back in the studio and sometimes shares the stage with her two younger brothers, Luke and Joel Smallbone, front men for the Christian band, For King and Country. St. James says when she does tour as a solo artist, they travel as a family and homeschool their daughters.
Looking back, she says the life God has given her was worth the wait.
REBECCA ST. JAMES: I think it just comes back to this whole idea. God’s way is the best. It’s not that it’s pain free. It’s not that we don’t experience curveballs. I miscarried a couple of times in between our first daughter being born and the second and a lot of different variables that were very hard. And so whether it’s the purity or remaining true to God in hard times, we knew the truth, that God’s way is best.
SONG: Ending of Wait For Me