Music is powerful. Who can deny the inspiration of an
Amadeus or an Armstrong?
Using rhythm to reach the human soul is older than the Psalms. Through the
expression of structured sound, worship can be enhanced and spiritual
Worship leaders understand this strength and play a
vital role in sharing Christ by using their talents to direct praise to the
ultimate Author of all music.
Two years ago Integrity Musics Vertical label signed its first woman worship
leader, Jami Smith. Her self-titled debut will be followed up with a new CD
release planned for mid-2001. Jamis music continues to receive increasing radio
airtime. But becoming a name doesnt interest Jami in the least. Pointing people
to Christ remains her true desire.
We dont want people to think about us when they leave [a service], but about
God. Theres only one name that can stand the fame. I cant stand up to thatIll
crumble, Ill crash. God is the only one who can handle that, so we give Him all
the praise, says Jami in her characteristically transparent manner.
I was brought up in a Southern Baptist church in
Chickasha, Oklahoma. Its a little country church, but it was very influential
in my life. Our youth group may have had only 15 to 20 people in it, but it was
active, says Jami.
She began to find her fit for evangelism in a way that has a familiar ring
for students who spent time at summer camp.
When I was 15 I attended a youth camp at Falls Creek, Oklahoma. The preacher
there emphasized the scripture, to whom much is given, much will be
required (Luke 12:48 NKJ). He said we needed to evaluate what God had
given us. If it was much, then what were we willing to give back for Gods
glory? For me it was a moment to realize that I had been given much, and I
needed to find out what I could do to give back. I look on that as the
beginning of my call into leading worship. Of course, I didnt know what I was
going to do. At 15 you dont know if youre going to pass algebra.
I love telling kids today: Let God reveal Himself to you by being more and
more committed to Him when nobody is looking. It took seven years before I knew
what God wanted me to do, to discover my fit for ministry through music, adds
As Jami gained confidence in her talents, she looked for opportunities to
use her gifts to help lead others to Christ.
When I was 22 I just couldnt put the guitar down. The phone started ringing
with opportunities. Then it just kept ringing. I couldnt have orchestrated
that. Thankfully I didnt try to either. During that time I really wanted to be
a camp counselor at Kanakuk in Branson, Missouri. I was so disappointed when I
wasnt hired. Instead God had planned for me to be a youth intern at a local
church. The church student group went to [LifeWays] CentriFuge camp that summer
where a girl led worship with a guitar. She opened my eyes. The next summer I
was hired by CentriFuge as a worship leader. I was only the second female
worship leader at CentriFuge.
Kids come up and ask: I want to do what youre doing. How do I get there? I
tell them: You need to dream bigger. God may have something bigger for you than
what you see me doing, said Jami.
Now Jami knows that God shaped her for a role in leading people to Christ
My fit is through leading worship. I get the chance to meet so many kids and
counsel with them. At one evangelism conference there were 1,100 youth who made
first-time decisions to follow Christ, said Jami.
In addition to talent and integrity, God has gifted Jami with an uncanny
ability to draw people to a hearing of the gospel.
True worship brings people into the presence of God. His Spirit will draw
you. We led worship for four months at Houston Metro Baptist Church. Some of
the guys invited non-Christian friends. That opened an opportunity for
the Christians to share their faith.
I hope the role God has given me as a lead worshiperputting worship first,
leading worship in an authentic way, as transparent as I can be, human with
problems and faults, vulnerable and open to Godwill allow people to grow closer
Does the thought of starting a Southern Baptist church in a
Mormon area seem to you like a huge challenge? If so, youre not alone. James
and Lou Dugger felt the same way when they realized God wanted them to start a
mission church in Weiser, Idaho.
In 1982 the Duggers met Bob and Doris Burns, Mission
Service Corps volunteers. The two couples met regularly.
We decided to start a prayer meeting at the community center that we
rented for $25 a night, said James.
The pastor at First Baptist, Fruitland, led the Bible studies and the church
sponsored the mission. They continued to meet at the community center for a
year with Bob as the pastor, Doris as pianist, Lou treasurer, and James, the
official gopher. Weiser has a large Latino population so they held two revivals
with a visiting Latino pastor.
Because we were able to get the kids to church, the
parents started coming as well, says Lou. The Wednesday night meals were a
great way to reach out to the community. The church now has about 90
James and Lou continue to work with other churches in Idaho. The churches in
the Baptist association are far apart, and the people are scattered. They work
in an area of northern Idaho that is largely populated by miners and
The culture is very different here. We have found that you really have to
gain peoples trust before you can even mention God or church. We visit with
people and become their friends so that we can share Christ with them.
Its challenging work, but when its Gods will things always work out, says
Anita Kolb had no idea what cheering from the bleachers at her 13-year-old
sons first baseball game would bring about.
I thought this would be another year when my husband,
Garry, and I would spend time with the other baseball families, and then we and
the other couples would go our separate ways until next summer.
As the season progressed, Anita noticed that she wound up sitting with the
coachs wife, Sharon, at every game. Sharon was friendly, but beneath the
surface pleasantries Anita sensed an inner despair.
I knew she needed a relationship with Christ, but how do you start talking
about such a serious topic at a baseball game?
I was terrified she would reject what I would say, or worse yet, reject
Every time Anita thought about speaking up, she would back down.
I just didnt know how to broach the subject. I finally prayed: Lord you have
to bring the opportunity.
The more Anita got to know Sharon the more she wanted
her new friend to know Christ. At one game they were chatting as usual, and
then everything got quiet. It seemed like the air stood still.
I know now it was the Holy SpiritHe had parked Himself beside us, she
You know, Im thinking its time I started attending church, Sharon said, out
of the blue.
My mouth hung open, Anita said. She invited Sharon to her church, barely
expecting to see her there.
A few games later the two women made plans to travel and room together for
an out-of-town baseball tournament.
We shared our lives as we talked about things that really mattered, Anita
said. They met several times for coffee in the following weeks. Anita openly
talked about Jesus and how Sharon could know Him.
Sharon and her son, Devyn, agreed to help at a youth camp Anita and Garry
organized. One evening mother and son accepted Christ as their personal Savior.
I went to bed that night in aweGod even works through baseball! Anita said.
The camp T-shirts said Got Jesus? on the front and well ... do you? on the
back. As Anita helped Sharon to the door with her luggage after returning from
camp, Sharons husband, Greg, greeted them with a smile.
I tossed a camp T-shirt to him. I wanted to tell Greg what had happened, but
once again I hesitated, unsure of his response. Oh me of little faith! God was
already working, Anita said.
The next Sunday Greg, Sharon and Devyn visited her church.
I prayed they would feel comfortable and would want to come back. They
On their third visit Greg said he needed Jesus.
My heart was bursting with joy, Anita said.
The two families started to spend time together just having funbirthdays,
holidays and shared meals.
In mid-December, Sharon and I invited two other baseball moms to our church
Christmas banquet. They heard the gospel there for the first time.
So Sharon and I are on our way to reaching these women for Jesus. Who says
sequels arent interesting?
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC