Rebecca St. James Calls Her Generation to Holiness and Missions
She's only 21 years old, but Rebecca St. James is impacting hundreds of thousands of young people with a vision for holiness and missions. Originally from Australia, this popular Christian singer/songwriter was chosen at 18 by Christianity Today as one of the top 50 Christian leaders for the next millennium. She has also been the subject of cover stories in Focus On The Family and Charisma magazines. The Charisma story called her "God's Girl." Rebecca even wrote a testimony of her faith for Billy Graham's Decision magazine which is distributed to over a million people and is translated into five languages.
Why has she received all this attention? Rebecca is an unofficial spokesperson for the True Love Waits campaign designed by Southern Baptists to encourage young people to practice sexual abstinence prior to marriage. She led a youth rally for True Love Waits in the Georgia Dome in 1996 and, at a Creation music festival in Pennsylvania, called 60,000 young people to pursue chastity till marriage.
Recently St. James added a new message to this call for holiness, asking her audience of young people to have a heart for the world and go to the mission field. She appeals to them to help the world's poor and to actually go into areas that are unreached by the Gospel and give their time.
Rebecca went to India last summer with her mom and they were shocked by the depth of the poverty they saw. " I learned so much about the people there. They have contentment even though they have nothing (materially). This year she plans to spend time working with children in a orphanage in Romania.
Rebecca believes that every Christian should go on at least a short-term mission.
"I've experienced mission trips and I know how life-changing they are," she said. "I know how it changes your perspective and gives you a passion for reaching out to the world with the love of God, a passion for The Great Commission. I personally have a real heart for missions. It's natural for me to want to encourage others to do something I feel so passionate about."
She has also become a spokesperson for the re-released music and ministry album of the late Keith Green. Keith was the top male artist in contemporary Christian music from 1977 until his death in 1982. In the last year of his life, and through memorial concerts, Green called over half a million young Christians to dedicate their lives to missionary service. For years, according to his wife Melody, 75 percent of Youth With A Mission trainees had come to train because of a message they heard at a Keith Green concert.
"What touches me about Keith's music is that he was committed to loving and living for God," Rebecca said. "I love his commitment to speaking the truth and being in your face about God's message."
St. James was asked to promote Green's music and message to a new generation. "Keith had a real passion for worship," Rebecca told Mission Frontiers. "My songs are that way too. I love to be very Biblical in my lyrics and very vertical--straight to God oriented. He was very bold about his message, too, and I really seek to be bold about my message and my love for God in music as well. The music label representatives tied our two ministries together and thought it would be a natural thing.
"I believe my generation needs to know more about Keith Green because he is an example of someone who really stood for God. My generation is desperately in need of encouragement. We need to be given hope. They're looking for answers to grab a hold of with both hands and hang on. I want to show truth through my music and my life, but I think that's what Keith has already done. By representing his music to people, he can speak into people's lives today, even though he's been gone all this time."
Like Green, Rebecca uses worship and exhortation songs in her concerts as a form of evangelism and a call to holiness. "Worship was such a huge element in Keith's music," said St. James. "The Bible talks about 'when Jesus is lifted up, all men will be drawn to him.' When He is lifted up in our hearts, people will naturally be drawn to Him. That's what Keith did. He worshipped God and encouraged that atmosphere in everything he did. You can't underestimate the power of God, the Bible and music being put together. Keith understood that," she said. Rebecca understands that, too, and gives altar calls at most of her concerts for people to commit their lives to Jesus, to holiness and to missions.
She says she wants to follow Keith Green's model of devotion. "Whether he was on stage or not, he was trying to surrender every moment to God. Keith had a heart that sought after God's and that's what I want in my life, too."