Idol Chatter

It is always tragic to hear about people who abandoned religion because they had a terrible experience with a specific congregation, rabbi, preacher or mosque. That, however, is what almost happened to popular Christian singer Austin French.

French’s father was a minister, and their family’s life looked perfect from the outside. Behind closed doors, however, was a very different story and carefully kept secrets.

“I remember people coming to us and saying, ‘Your family’s the godliest family we’ve ever met,’ but at home it felt like World War III, and the mask came off, abuse happened,” French said. “As an 8-year-old kid I remember writing in my journal, ‘I will never be a Christian.’ I just hated the church — I hated Christians, didn’t want to be a part of it. [In our house,] it was fear-based. It wasn’t love-based and so I remember going and writing in this journal, ‘If this is what being a Christian looks like, I don’t want to be a Christian.’”

Things only got worse when the church alienated his family after his parents divorced. Looking back, French knows that based on his experiences with his father and his father’s church, French assumed that Jesus was similar to those who hurt and abandoned French’s family. Then, French’s mother began working at a small church and sent him to a music camp where a man gave the sermon that turned French’s world upside down.

“A guy got up on stage and said, ‘Hey, I want to talk about hypocrisy. I’m gonna tell you there’s a lot of people who follow Jesus with their lips and they talk a really great game, but they’ve never followed Jesus with their life,’” French said. “‘That is not what being a Christian is — being a Christian is [giving] your entire life to Jesus. It’s looking like Jesus because you’re spending time with Jesus … That’s the day I gave my life to Jesus and realized that I was saved by his scars,” he said. “I wasn’t defined by mine.”

Now, French is working to make “music for broken people” like he was when he was younger.

“I feel like the songs on [my album, ‘Wide Open,’] are literally the stories of the last three to four years of my life,” French said. “So, for people to finally listen and get to know me in a way through this music, I’m just so excited about it.”

French hopes that those who listen to his music will think deeper about their faith and come to know the Jesus that he knows now.

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