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Did You Ever Think Your Life Would Be a Movie? The Story Behind 'Unsung Hero'

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 17, 2024 3:04 am

Did You Ever Think Your Life Would Be a Movie? The Story Behind 'Unsung Hero'

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 17, 2024 3:04 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Helen Smallbone is a mother of seven - a family devoted to a generation of Christian music. Here's her story of globetrotting and overcoming her homlessness upon moving to America from Australia.

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I'm Katja Adler, host of The Global Story. Over the last 25 years I've covered conflicts in the Middle East, political and economic crises in Europe, drug cartels in Mexico. Now I'm covering the stories behind the news all over the world in conversation with those who break it.

Join me Monday to Friday to find out what's happening, why and what it all means. Follow The Global Story from the BBC wherever you listen to podcasts. Zumoplay is your destination for endless entertainment. With a diverse lineup of 350 plus live channels, movies and full TV series, you'll easily find something to watch right away. And the best part, it's all free. Love music? Get lost in the 90s with I Heart 90s, dance away with hip hop beats and more on the I Heart Radio music channels.

No logins, no signups, no accounts, no hassle. So what are you waiting for? Start streaming at play.xumo.com or download from the app and Google Play stores today.

All you can stream with Zumoplay. And we're back with our American stories. Up next, joining us with her story is the real mother who's the basis of the newly released film, Unsung Hero. Helen Smallbone is the mother of Christian artists, and that's Christian musical artists. One, her daughter, Rebecca, that's Rebecca St. James, and her sons, Joel and Luke, the duo who make up the platinum selling Christian band for King and Country.

She's here to share her family's personal story of true perseverance. When we got married, David was working in music. He's really been working in music since he was 16. Music has always been his passion. He's always had a gift in marketing and management. And so he was working for a second or record company. And he realized that in marketing and promoting these artists, that when they got up, fans just adore them.

But when they got off the stage, he recognized they had nothing. And so it gave him a passion for marketing, using his skills to market and promote Christian music. And so in 1977, when I was pregnant with Rebecca, we changed towns. We moved from Brisbane down to Sydney, and he actually started his own company. And it was to do concerts, a recording company, artist management. And he set that up in 1977.

So Rebecca's first concert that she ever attended was when she was six weeks old. And it was a Larry Norman concert in the Sydney Opera House. So David would bring down international artists to Australia at about that same time, sort of scripture and song or praise and worship music had just started that genre. And he was involved in the early days of recording and marketing and promoting a lot of that music as well. The concert tour that he promoted in 1989, he was expecting an audience turnout of 25,000 throughout Australia.

He did not get that he got an audience attendance of 15,000, which meant he was going to lose an awful lot of money. And so we knew this was going to be major life change. We were attending Hill CLC at the time.

Hill CLC ended up being renamed Hillsong. And he had started a record company with them, and he was putting out their new praise and worship songs in those early days. And he had looked at that as being maybe a way that he could continue in Christian music and hold the family together. And then on his 40th birthday, he got called in to the church offices and they said that they didn't need him anymore, that they were going to bring it back in house and to thank you for his contribution.

And that was the second major door closed. In desperation, he looked at some of the artists that he had brought down to Australia. And he contacted an artist called Carmen in 1990 and said, oh, why don't I come to America and I can set up a praise and worship record label for you and I'll manage it and I'll do all the stuff because I've already been doing it. And they had an arrangement that they would do that.

We would go to live in Tulsa. Carmen actually bought our tickets to America. He toured with David in 1991, in March of 1991.

That tour went well. But in April of 1991, I think someone had spoken to him about the money he lost on the Amy Grant tour and about how his name was sort of tainted in Christian music fields. Carmen came to David and said, I don't want you to come and work for me anymore. And we were now on the other side of the world and he didn't now have a job anymore. So that was pretty desperate days, as you can imagine. So when we came to America, we came with six kids and I was six months pregnant with our youngest girl. We had 16 suitcases.

We arrived in our rental home in Nashville with no furniture, no car, very little money. And with hope because we had the job at that time and we just were living really by faith. And wherever we would go, everybody knew money was tight.

The whole family knew. When we would go to the grocery shop, sometimes we were going with a very limited amount of money. It could be $20, it could be $40. One of my sons would go to all the candy outlet things and they would look to see if anybody had left to dine there. Then he would look in any phone boxes and try and find coins there.

It was just scavenging for coins. Like wherever he could think of, there might be a coin that someone's left. And then when we would go grocery shopping, he would look under the shelves to see if anything had come out of anybody's purses or whatever. And he picked Jack Park one day.

He found $20 that had fallen and was underneath one of the shelves in one of the stores. And he just took that as a directive from God. Our pastor, when he saw our movie, he said that he recognizes that in life, if you want to see a miracle, you need to need a miracle. And in those days we were actively looking for miracles.

We were actively looking for God and we were actively seeing God turn up. We had saw really the church, the local church surround us, the local community. We started doing everyday sort of tasks of cleaning and babysitting and raking lawns and mowing just to put food on the table.

The kids were all helping and working together. And when we were going through a hard time in 1991, there was a man that we met through the homeschooling group who was going through his good season when he was being well provided for as a songwriter here in Nashville. And he called up or his wife called up and said, oh, we'd like to invite you to our Thanksgiving. You know, a lot of home schoolers are getting together and we'd like you to invite you to our Thanksgiving dinner. And I said, well, I'm sorry.

We'd love to come, but we're a family of eight and we won't be able to, we have no car, so I wouldn't be able to get there. And she was like, oh, don't worry about it. I'll just get John to borrow a van and we'll pick you up. So he did. He came and picked us up.

We went to the homeschooling Thanksgiving dinner and we were very blessed and we were making some new contacts. And as the night goes on, the kids are getting very tired and I'm looking around for where John is because of course we just can't sort of say goodbye and get in their car and go home. We've got to actually wait for him to take us home. And eventually I saw him and I went up and I said, we need to take kids home.

They're all pretty tired and thank you for your hospitality. Would you just mind driving us home? And he held up a set of keys and he said, oh, you can drive yourself home.

And I said, no, you don't understand. We've borrowed some cars from some neighbors and they called their insurance company and their insurance company said that if we have an accident that they would be held financially responsible. And I said, if I have an accident in your car, you're going to be held financially responsible.

And I can't ask that of anybody. And John made a statement that I just am in shock and awe still to this day, 30 years later, he said, I feel like God has told us to give you this car. If you have an accident and I get sued and I lose my house and everything that I have, then that is God's will for me.

So be it. And that just blew me away. That statement, knowing the risk that he was carrying, that statement of total trust that God was in control just blew me away. Didn't know us. He'd only met us that night.

I just just staggering. And it wasn't the old car that nobody was using down the backyard. It was actually a car that he had bought for his family. It was a van. It fitted us.

It was an eight seater van. We were eight at the time. It just just blew me away. I mean, he met us that night. Like, it's not like there's a longstanding friendship.

It's not like he, you know, he met us that night. And for him to feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to that, knowing that there might be a cost is just mind blowing. And you've been listening to Helen Smallbone share the story of her family. And my goodness, a faith walk. That's quite remarkable. The ability to just pick up and move like that with just some suitcases in hand and follow what you think is God's call.

And my goodness, what that one stranger did for them, just handing over the keys to a car, because, well, he felt that God had called him to provide that car for a family who needed it. When we come back, more of the story of Helen Smallbone, her family, her life here on Our American Stories. On BBC Radio 4, Britain's biggest paranormal podcast is going on a road trip. I thought in that moment, oh my God, we've summoned something from this board. This is Uncanny USA.

He says somebody's in the house and I screamed. Come to Uncanny USA, wherever you get your BBC podcasts, if you dare. Zoom or play is your destination for endless entertainment with a diverse lineup of 350 plus live channels, movies, and full TV series. You'll easily find something to watch right away. And the best part it's all free. Love music. Get lost in the nineties with I heart nineties dance away with hip hop beats and more on the I heart radio music channels. No logins, no signups, no accounts, no hassle. So what are you waiting for? Start streaming at play.xumo.com or download from the app and Google play stores today.

All you can stream with Zumo play. There are choices that can change your life. Like the choice to start routine colorectal cancer screening at age 45. It's one of the most common cancers for women and men. And it doesn't always have symptoms, but there's good news. Routine screening can catch colorectal cancer early and even prevent it. And there's even better news. You have screening options. Make the choice to put your health first.

Talk to your doctor about your screening options or visit cdc.gov slash screen for life. For more information. Can we return to our American stories and to Helen Smallbone story, the mother of Christian artists for King and Country and Rebecca St. James.

Let's return to Helen sharing the rest of her family story. David had quite a few Christian music contacts because of his work in Australia. He was both with managers. He was very aware of producers and directors and whatever you know that were around marketing people. And so he was having a lot of meetings with different people.

Well, we there was interest from word records in signing Rebecca and he knew the two producers that were going to probably be taking her on or looking for a new artist. And so we went out to dinner one night with the producer Greg Nelson and his wife Pam. And when we got home, David, he wanted them to come in and meet the family. And so we invited them into our house to meet the children. And in meeting the children, he realized we didn't have any furniture. At that point, we had, I think, a kitchen table and two chairs and that was it. And it shocked him because we hadn't we hadn't told him that, you know, yet we hadn't complained that we hadn't didn't have any furniture. It was just we were more preoccupied with introducing the kids to him.

And so unbeknownst to us, he went away and he went to his Sunday school class that Sunday. And he said, listen, I've just been to the home of some people who have just recently moved into the area and they really have no furniture. I mean, like we went into their home and there's nothing. And so the next we knew was one night there was a knock on the door and then like six to eight people just came in and Greg was with them and the people just started wandering around the house. And it was sort of like, I'm not even sure we knew what they were doing. You know, they just I mean, they just, I suppose, in a way just barged in. Well, they were going around to see what our needs were, you know, how many beds they were, what our needs were, like what we had. We had nothing.

And they were just observing for themselves. And then they all went back. And the next we know is two box trucks pulled into our drive and they unloaded all this furniture and they put it into the different rooms. Prior to that, the kids had been sleeping with winter clothes that had been tucked in by sheets on the floor. I actually had a mattress because I was pregnant and the guy who owned the house could not bear to think of a pregnant woman, you know, like sleeping on the floor. I had a single mattress. A washing machine and dryer was given to us.

I apparently someone had a spare one either in the garage or somewhere and they just brought I mean, I think they were new. Like I just I was so in shock that someone just could bring a washing machine and dryer. But I was so thankful because up until that time I had been hand washing all the clothes in the bathtub after the kids had had baths and then using the kids or David to help me squeeze out the water and hang them on a line in the house. So we knew it was crazy because things are falling apart, a lot of doors closing, feeling of not sure what's going to happen and what the future held. But there was also miracles happening on pretty much a daily basis of where we saw God opening these, not our destination doors, but like these little doors that were going to help us on this journey. We definitely saw God caring for us. And I think when you go through a time of trial and that time of trial can be illness, it can be grief, it can be financial. Any time you're going through a deep trial, it shows you where your foundation is built.

It shows you what you're relying on. And I'm just very thankful that God had prepped us by having a foundation where we knew the reality of who Jesus is and we turned to Him in those days. So we'd gather in our furniture-less living room and we would pray together as a family. The kids were very aware of what was going on in our lives and the hardnesses of what was happening.

We did not shield them from what was going on. And our mental attitude at that time was really grateful for God caring for us and then sort of looking to see what God was going to do and just clinging together to God and each other. Sometimes I feel like God just wants us to make the next step and follow where He's leading, not necessarily knowing where the destination is going to be. Because sometimes in our lives, He's taking us on a journey to that destination and in that journey, He's going to refine us and teach us what we need to know. And so that's what He definitely did with us in doing the menial tasks of raking leaves, babysitting, cleaning houses, mowing lawns. We were learning how to work together as a family. We were learning that every person mattered. We were learning what it means to have purpose, what it means to work hard. We were learning relationships, how to give each other grace, how to accept each other's strengths and weaknesses. And from that, when Rebecca ended up getting signed two years after we were here, when she started touring, when a record came out, we realized we did not wish to be separated, that the bond that we had created in those few years was so strong that to be separated was just still too hard. So I have bookend girls and then I've got five boys in the middle. And those five boys actually then became Rebecca's crew.

And they would set up and pull down the stage and the lights. It definitely gave us a deeper connection together, great love and support for one another. So God had a purpose in it all, which makes me realize that we've just got to look for Him. We've got to know He's with us and know He's caring for us.

And then we've got to take the next step. The family still works together today. The five boys are still working together in some capacity or other. The oldest son, Daniel, learned lights during his time with Rebecca. He learned how to program moving lights and do her stage design. He still does that for King & Country. The next boy down, Ben, was given a video camera and he was filming a lot of the background scenes for Rebecca in the early days.

And he's still in that. He's done a lot of the boys' music videos. The next boys down are Joel and Luke. Joel, I think at the age of 12, started background singing for Rebecca, started stage managing. Luke knows how to program moving lights and how to run the lighting board.

And Luke is in for King & Country. The youngest boy, Josh, he started doing smoke, doing the stage smoke. In those days, you would have a burner and a fan, and he was responsible for that. Then at about eight, he graduated to running a spotlight and was very, very good at that. He would help set up the lights. He knew how to run cables. And then at age 14, he ran Rebecca's merchandise.

And today he is the general manager for King & Country. God had different paths and plans that we did not know about. And I've learned from those scenarios that sometimes a closed door is not a disaster. A lot of times we see a job loss.

We see a major city. We see, you know, just change as humans very hard. And a lot of times God is using closed doors or change to get our attention, to turn our eyes towards him, to trust him in deeper ways. And so I've learned that.

And sometimes he leads us in paths that we don't understand, but he is doing amazing things in our lives if we trust him and follow him. And a terrific job on the production, editing and storytelling by our own Madison Derricotte and a special thanks to Helen Smallbone. And by the way, the new movie Unsung Hero is about her life.

If you have a free day over the weekend, go and see the movie again. It's Unsung Hero. And my goodness, what a life story. She stepped out in faith. And as she put it, little miracles occurred, not the big ones right away, the little ones, that furniture arriving at her house when they had none. Anytime you go through a deep trial, it shows your foundation, the foundation you're building your life on. And my goodness, what she did with her kids and what she taught them about attitude and gratitude.

Oh, it's the difference between living a good life and living an entitled life. Helen Smallbone's story here on Our American Stories. I'm Katja Adler, host of The Global Story. Over the last 25 years, I've covered conflicts in the Middle East, political and economic crises in Europe, drug cartels in Mexico. Now I'm covering the stories behind the news all over the world in conversation with those who break it. Join me Monday to Friday to find out what's happening, why and what it all means. Follow The Global Story from the BBC wherever you listen to podcasts. Zumo Play is your destination for endless entertainment. With a diverse lineup of 350 plus live channels, movies and full TV series, you'll easily find something to watch right away.

And the best part? It's all free. Love music? Get lost in the 90s with iHeart 90s. Dance away with hip hop beats and more on the iHeart Radio music channels.

No logins, no signups, no accounts, no hassle. So what are you waiting for? Start streaming at play.xumo.com or download from the app and Google Play stores today.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-17 04:47:11 / 2024-05-17 04:56:05 / 9

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