Singer Austin French is on a mission to make music that reaches fans' hearts and souls. French, 24, recently shared his incredible journey from skeptical pastor's kid to popular Christian musician — an exploration that forced him to question absolutely everything, including his childhood faith.
"As an 8-year-old kid I remember writing in my journal, 'I will never be a Christian,'" French recently told The Billy Hallowell Podcast. "And I just hated the church — I hated Christians, didn't want to be a part of it."
The singer explained that, as a minister's kid, his family looked perfect on the outside, but life behind closed doors was chaotic and painful.
"I remember people coming to us and saying, 'Your family's the godliest family we've ever met,'" he explained. "But at home it felt like World War III, and the mask came off, abuse happened. 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.'"
Listen to French reveal his journey to faith and how he truly came to discover Christ below:
French said he struggled to see why he had to be two different people — one at home and another at church. Eventually, his parents divorced and his church disowned the family. It was an awful situation that left him feeling alienated and disenchanted with Christianity.
Looking back, the singer now realizes that he didn't know at the time who Jesus truly is, and that he assumed — based on his experiences — that Jesus hurt people, talked bad about people and was somehow like those who had harmed him.
But then one day French found himself totally transfixed by a stunning reality: Jesus loves.
That realization came when French's mom got a job at a small church and sent him to a music camp. It was there that he heard a man preach about Jesus, and it changed everything.
"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,'" he recalled. "'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.'"
The speaker went on to say that broken people hurt others, but that Jesus "died to heal the broken people." It was that day that French realized he had it all wrong, and he accepted Christ.
"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."
French also realized that day that he wanted to make "music for broken people" — something he's now doing with the release of his first album, "Wide Open."
In addition to French's budding music career, he and his wife welcomed a biological son just two months after adopting a baby boy. Now, he's balancing a family of four, music and plenty more, but French is exuberant about it all.
"I feel like the songs on this record are literally the stories of the last three to four years of my life." he 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 said he feels like God is using his life and his music, and he's hoping to inspire fans to think deeper about faith.
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