unite

Rebecca St. James' Patience

By Josh Maloni

     Rebecca St. James refused to settle.
     She refused to marry someone who wasn’t “the one.”
     A beautiful woman with financial security and fame, she could’ve put roots down with the first man who asked her out. It would’ve been easy for St. James to just give up, give in, and do what so many in the world would do in her situation.
     However, “I wanted to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was God’s man for me,” she said. “What would be settling would be being with somebody who wasn’t God’s man for me, and I just was lonely, and just needed to do this because time was up and I’d waited long enough. I just think what God was telling me to do was trust His heart and then wait on His confirmation. And God did give me confirmation. It was awesome.”
     In April, St. James wed. Christian music’s most well known female singer – and its strongest advocate for purity – married former missionary Jacob Fink, who proposed to her on Christmas day.
     This new stage in St. James’ personal life was followed by a series of new chapters in her professional career. The 34-year-old Australian unveiled a new album, “I Will Praise You,” in the spring; she debuted a revamped website, www.rsjames.com, at the end of the summer; and in September she released a new book on relationships, “What Is He Thinking?”. James has served as a panelist on Fox News “Hannity,” hosted by conservative host Sean Hannity, and in August she performed at Kingdom Bound for the first time in five years.
     “My last birthday – a year ago – I really sensed that God was saying that this would be a year of fulfillment. I was really hoping and praying that it would be a year of fulfillment relationally – not necessarily vocationally,” St. James said, laughing. “But it’s really been both. Our relationship, my husband and I – this new season with Jacob – has really sprung me into a new season of ministry. (It’s) one that has balance, and I’m not on the road all the time. The events I’m doing, I really sense the Holy Spirit moving in a fresh way.
     “Our story is now also kind of expanding the reach of my purity message, because now I can say it’s worth the wait. You know, marriage is wonderful, and speak from that position, as well. It’s a really great new season.”

Western New York Ties

To be certain, St. James’ year has not been what she expected and better than what she could’ve imagined. 2011 has also been a year of change for the Middleport, N.Y.-based Yme? Ministry, an organization that has a history with the singer and author.
     Five years ago, an idea was birthed in Yme? to hold a Kingdom Bound-like event in Niagara County. Yme? booked St. James at Artpark, the Lewiston, N.Y., venue best known for its “Tuesday in the Park” rock concert series and numerous Buffalo Spree Magazine awards.
     In June 2007, St. James became the first Christian performer to headline a concert at Artpark in at least 10 years. Her concert drew about 1,500 people, and garnered local and national press coverage.
     “It was obviously the biggest show we’d ever done,” Yme? President Brian Yaiser said. His organization had previously done smaller-scale shows in more modest venues.
     Reflecting on the show four years later, Yaiser didn’t think of the big stage, or its bright lights, or the logistics of flying in a full band and equipment from Tennessee. Rather, he recalled, “The invitation that Rebecca gave to everyone and a pretty strong response of people going forward to accept the Lord.”
     Approximately 100 people participated in an altar call. Earlier in the day, Yme?, in conjunction with The Niagara Visionaries, dedicated Wheatfield, N.Y.’s, The Summit mall to Jesus. At that event, local and regional elected leaders joined mall owner Jim Anthony in public prayer.
     Publicist Mark Weber, of markinthecity.com, was the catalyst in uniting Yme? with the Niagara Visionaries, a group of creative thinkers with ties to the music, journalism, marketing and real estate industries.
     “For any good thing to happen in Western New York, people need to work together,” he said. Weber sensed an “open spirit of cooperation” that led to “great, positive change.”
     “It was wonderful to have people come together from so many different backgrounds,” he said.
     The night of the concert, Niagara County ministers were invited to join together at Artpark.
     “We started this event with a number of pastors going forward on stage,” Yaiser said. “The only criteria – it wasn’t whether or not they wear robes on Sunday morning or whether they wear a suit and tie or whether they wear a sports jacket or a golf shirt on Sunday morning. It all had everything to do with whether or not they acknowledge the cross as the beginning and the end of what’s needed in one’s life.”
     “That was incredibly important (as we went) forth, that we wouldn’t let our styles of ministry direct the event, (but) that we were truly unified at the foot of the cross,” he added.
     Following the St. James show, Yme? hosted a series of charity concerts for Western New York not-for-profits, and a pair of shows for the Romanian orphanage House of Hope.
     Now, Yaiser is poised to take Yme? in a different direction.
     “My heart is really for the troops – at the boot level,” he said.
     Yaiser’s daughter, Brooke, is in the armed forces, and his family has seen the positive impact of organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project and Not Alone on the lives of the men and women protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks.
     Every day soldiers are asked to put their lives on the line. When necessary, they’re forced to take the life of a combatant. These situations, Yaiser said, can leave troops feeling guilty and unworthy of God’s love or mercy. The key, he said, is to teach them, “God forgave us; and He did that at the cross. We need to be able to forgive ourselves.
      “There’s so much pain out there for the warrior. I think we, as a society in this country, we don’t see the evil like some nations of the world do.”
     Yaiser was encouraged by a report he received from his daughter following her unit’s recent interaction with Billy Graham’s grandson, Will.
     “She said, ‘Dad, don’t you think for a minute that the Lord isn’t alive and well.’ Two hundred young men and women came forward to accept Christ in a boot camp – a boot camp,” he said.
“My heart – where you see Yme? Ministry going, for me, personally – would be to somehow come alongside these organizations,” Yaiser said.

St. James Stands Tall

When St. James returned to Kingdom Bound this summer, she discovered the impact her concert had on the Artpark crowd, on Yme?, and in shining a spotlight on other Niagara County organizations such as Solid Rock Ministries and Harvest in the Park.
“No way – that’s awesome,” she said.
That St. James regularly deflects praise to her Lord and Savior doesn’t stop people from sharing stories of the impact of her ministry on their lives.
“I actually just spoke – like two days ago – to a man who was pastoring three churches in his local area in Illinois,” she said. “He came to a show of mine when I was pretty young, like, I think, late teens. And he ended up using (my) devotional book to lead other young people in growing in Jesus. And that devotional book, while he was leading the Bible study, it ministered to him, and made him get serious with God. Now he’s pastoring three churches, got a wife and a family, and he just said, ‘Thank you so much for having a spiritual legacy in my life.’
“Beautiful stories like that are very powerful for me.”
What’s powerful to others, Yaiser said, is watching St. James stay true to her Christian beliefs.
     “As an artist, (she’s) very talented, but there’s a lot of talented people out there,” he said. “When I see Rebecca St. James, and I see her post the concert that we did, and I see her on Fox, for example, being interviewed. These people who are standing in the gap in the gospel are under tremendous scrutiny. She still stands tall. She is a light.”
     Yaiser said St. James is steadfast in her approach. No matter the situation or circumstances, St. James refuses to give up or give in.
     “She stands tall for the gospel,” and not just at her concerts, where it’s comfortable, Yaiser said. “When I look at her now, that’s the thing I admire most. Yes, she had the heart to sing Christian music and so forth. But when you hear her in a setting being challenged by other people who are being interviewed on talk shows like ‘Hannity’ and so forth, she’s a rock.”
     Rebecca St. James’s latest offerings, album “I Will Praise You” and book “What Is He Thinking?”, are now available online and in Christian retail stores.