When Ginny became pregnant 35 years ago at age 18, she made the hardest decision of her life. “I decided to get an abortion. I was too afraid and ashamed to go to my parents for help so I decided to fix my mistake and terminate the pregnancy. Marriage was not an option because I knew I did not love my boyfriend enough for marriage at that time.”
Now, says Ginny, “I know God has forgiven me and I will meet my child one day in heaven. I made a poor choice but I have hope and a strong conviction to lead children to Christ at an early age by working in AWANA’s and Vaction Bible School.”
Ginny’s story is just one of thousands that poured in last year when Matthew West asked fans to share their stories of heartbreak and hope for his new record, The Story of Your Life. “As I was praying for the statement that I wanted to make with my next record,” says West, “I wondered, ‘What if I turned the microphone around and instead of writing songs inspired by my life, I found inspiration in writing songs about other people’s lives?'”
Many people chose to share difficult chapters, says West, telling him about times in their past when they really struggled. He received stories of addiction, abuse, family problems and illness. For a short time, he feared this might be the “most depressing” record ever made. “But I began writing these songs from a place of hope. Out of these ashes, out of these tragedies, out of this abuse, it is the most hopeful record I’ve ever made.”
For example, when he read Ginny’s story, West was moved to write a song that spoke of the healing that can happen to our hearts and lives when we simply turn our eyes in the direction of the Healer. “This song is about the freedom that is found when we finally lay down all the weight of our mistakes, our past, and our shame.”
West also received incredible stories that he calls victory stories. “There were many families—moms and dads—who sent their stories, sharing with me their amazing stories of redemption, how God led them to become foster parents or adopt children. Often times, it came out of a tragedy, where maybe a husband and wife were trying to have children, but they miscarried and the Lord led them down the path of adoption. Then they realized that was God’s plan for their life, to give an orphan a home.”
One specific story came from a man named Greg who is a pastor in Tennessee. He and his wife adopted a little girl named Lily from Guatemala. To do so, the couple had to be apart from each other for seven months while the wife lived in Guatemala in an apartment by herself, and the husband stayed home.
“He said that all the loneliness and the pain and the trouble that they faced in the adoption process were quickly erased on the day that they were able to bring their precious little daughter home,” West recalls. “It was one of the moments where I was by myself in the cabin, but I was rejoicing. I was so excited! I thought, ‘The whole world needs to hear this story and through it, they can be reminded that we are called to care for the widows and the orphans.'”
In writing the song, West says he was reminded of the “amazing work done by Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse and the BGEA—these organizations that I’ve had the honor of working side by side with. I’ve been a spokesman on Operation Christmas Child’s behalf—a ministry that truly does carry out the Scriptures and cares for the orphans. Hopefully this song will encourage many more people to do the same thing.”
During The Story of Your Life Tour, West is hosting Operation Christmas Child packing parties all across the country. “We are encouraging people to look beyond their own needs which is the theme of the song, ‘My Own Little World.’ This is a simple act of kindness that can really change somebody’s life for eternity,” says West. “That’s what Operation Christmas Child is about and that’s why I wanted them to be part of the tour.”
Speaking during his concert in Weddington, N.C., West told the audience, “I hope you won’t just be an observer. I hope you looked at your life and realize you have a story to tell that can help someone else. God’s grace is strong and powerful. It can turn broken chapters into something beautiful. Instead of ripping out those chapters, share them. Your healing has begun. Your healing is now.”
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