The debut album by America's JILLIAN, was produced by Jimmy Peterik of top AOR band Survivor ('Eye Of The Tiger'). Mike Rimmer spoke in depth to the lady who has really discovered God's healing power.
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Looking at photos of Jillian with a guitar strapped round her neck, I joke with her, asking whether making an album with Survivor had turned her into a rock chick. She laughs and tells me, "I loved working with Survivor and was challenged from the moment I met them. We met through a manager I'd been working with. He was on the Journey/Bryan Adams tour the night that we all met. Instead of working with Journey, I ended up working with Survivor. The Lord really had a plan in that because during the two years of working with Jimmy and writing Christian songs and talking about Jesus with him, I could see a breaking and a softening in him. It was right before Christmas and we had nearly finished the album. His sister had just died from a heart attack. He was very broken and called me at home on Christmas Eve - he asked me to pray for him. The day I returned in the New Year, he picked me up at the airport and we were on the way to the studio. He asked if his sister had gone to Heaven. Then he asked with tears in his eyes, 'How can I be sure I'm going to Heaven?' I asked him to pray with me, he shook and cried and the glory of the Lord came down and touched him in a powerful way. We have been best friends ever since."
There is no doubt that God has his hand on Jillian's ministry and music, judging by the doors that he has opened for her. Working with Survivor adds certain kudos and quality to her album, so does the inclusion on the US version of the album of a song which she co-wrote with Michael McCary from American hit soul/pop band BoyzIIMen.
The collaboration with McCary was one of those "coincidences" for which God is famous! Jillian tells the story: "I met them after the Grammy awards. We were all in the same hotel too. After the Grammies, I was in the restaurant and there were people taking pictures of me for a Christian magazine. When BoyzIIMen came in I think they thought I was someone really important! Michael McCary, the bass singer, came over and wanted my autograph! I just about fell out of my chair!
"That night we all got together and Michael came up with the copy of my book that I'd signed for him that morning. He was saying how many boys and girls in America were suffering from abuse. That was the night we wrote 'You Don't Have To Cry'. I wrote it about myself when I was 16, then Michael and I developed it. It's an incredible song. I was separated from my brother Johnny. The last time I saw him was through a car window when we were being separated for foster homes. The last thing he said to me was 'Don't cry Jill.'"
Jillian's story has been captured on 'As Is' as well as her autobiography Please Somebody Love Me. Her schedule is filled with concerts and speaking engagements where she ministers to others who have been hurt. In concert she mixes her testimony with music and drama and something has started to explode in the USA where she performs about 280 dates a year. So what's been happening? Jillian is excited, "We're seeing lives reformed, renewed, restored. We're seeing people coming to Christ and receiving their salvation. It's been a dynamic year for us."
Wherever she ministers it's the grace of God which inspires Jillian. "We serve a God of grace," she shares, "and I'm so fortunate. It doesn't matter what we've done or where we've been. I'm able to speak to prostitutes, drug dealers or gang members. We just got back from New York where I spoke to over 7,000 gang members in an auditorium. We saw hundreds get saved. So many people are crippled by what they've done in their past but we serve a God of forgiveness and grace. When we come to that place in our life where we don't want to live the way we've been living any more, that's when change takes place."
Finally, if you have been hurt by life, feel unloved and weighed down by the past, Jillian has some advice about starting the healing process. "The first thing is to accept Jesus as your personal Saviour.
You can go for counselling and help but there is no one like Jesus. Get involved in a really good church and get into a fellowship of support. If you are a Christian already, my first step would be to admit, instead of denying, that it happened. The truth is going to set you free. One of the hardest things to do in recovery is being honest with ourselves and others. Then I would say forgiveness is a major issue. One of the most important things we can do is to stop judging each other and picking and choosing who deserves forgiveness because we have all been forgiven. The other issue in recovery is letting go -trusting the Lord with it and giving it to him. In time, the pain gets less and less."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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