“I view mum[s] as the most important role in our culture. It’s probably the most undervalued role, and to be a mum takes everything,” said Helen Smallbone.
From moving her family of six (with one on the way) across the ocean to experiencing many of God’s miracles and being a mother to three of Christian music’s top artists, Helen Smallbone has lived quite an exciting 67 years. But without her faith in Jesus, her life and motherhood might have looked very different.
In Australia, Smallbone grew up in a religious family. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were pastors. But when Smallbone began raising her own family, she knew she wanted to avoid “generational Christianity.”
“Generational Christianity is where we know about God and the Bible,” Smallbone explained. “We can recite Bible verses and the Creeds, but we haven’t actually experienced God. There’s a big difference between knowledge and experience. Because once you personally experience God, you’ll never be the same.”
Smallbone desired for her children to have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. And thankfully, through amazing God-filled moments and the example of their parents, the Smallbone kiddos were able to experience the Lord in many miraculous ways.
After coming to America, there were many times when Helen and her husband David were unsure how they would provide for their family … but they knew the One who could. So, with every bump in the road, the Smallbones would take time and pray for God’s provision.
“I think that’s what happens when we get out on the edge,” said Smallbone. “I think sometimes, particularly in our safe western culture, where we have all our needs supplied, ... we don’t really need to see God.
“But when we step out of our comfort zones, … and we trust God on a journey that we would not necessarily take on our own, then He has the freedom and liberty to provide and care for us. It’s in that providing and caring that we ended up going to a deeper relationship with God. Because we saw God in action.”
Prayers and Provision
In her recent memoir, Behind the Lights: The Extraordinary Adventure of a Mum and Her Family, Smallbone showcases powerful stories of how her family saw God provide for them during those early days in the States. These stories include a stranger paying the medical bills for the birth of their youngest daughter, opportunities that allowed them to have an income, and even a family giving them a car.
But in a recent interview with The Stand, Smallbone revealed a special memory that occurred while the family was eating dinner with new friends in Nashville. After meeting the Smallbones, the friends noticed their lack of furniture. At the time, the children were sleeping on beds made out of clothes. So, with the help of a local Sunday school class, the friends furnished the family’s home.
But that wasn’t the best part.
While eating dinner, Joel (who is now the lead singer of FOR KING & COUNTRY) overheard that the husband, Mr. Greg, was experiencing back pain. And at six years old, he came to his parents and told them they needed to pray. Before they left that night, they gathered as a family, and Joel led in prayer.
“When you see your kid’s initiating faith and initiating prayer,” Smallbone continued, “It demonstrated to me [that] his understanding [of] prayer is powerful and that God answers prayer. When you’re in a scenario that you don’t understand what the outcome is going to be, you pray. You turn to prayer.”
Not only is Smallbone the mother of seven wonderful children, but three of them ended up with their names in lights. As the mom of Rebecca St. James and Joel and Luke Smallbone of FOR KING & COUNTRY, Helen has seen the ins and outs of the music industry. And some moments left her feeling flustered as a mom.
During the early years of Rebecca’s touring life, she realized how hard it was to be a woman in Christian music. In the secular music industry, female artists are often marketed based on sexual appeal. But as a Christian artist, Rebecca did not follow that path, and at moments, it was very hard for her to grasp.
When Rebecca and the boys would arrive at venues, she would be expected to be dressed up with makeup, nice clothes, etc. Meanwhile, when the boys would exit the bus, they didn’t have to put in any effort. As a people pleaser, Rebecca tried her best to make everyone happy, but it weighed on her and her mom. Helen encouraged Rebecca to “take up her cross and follow Jesus daily.”
When it came to the boys, it was a different scenario. As a duo, Joel and Luke started older and had each other. Helen counts that as a huge blessing. But she explains that her biggest concern for the boys is that they understand the responsibility of the stage.
“I’m not enamored by the stage. The stage doesn’t have an aurora around it,” Helen continued. “What it actually has is a responsibility. Because when any one of us steps into a public profile, steps onto a stage, and develops a public profile, as Christians, we have a responsibility to finish strong.”
Nowadays, Smallbone uses her energy to help moms of all ages and backgrounds. Through the help of her local church, she and her co-founder, Heather Houle, started MUM Life. MUM stands for “Mothers uplifting mothers.” Following a Titus 2 model, the group helps uplift and encourage moms – while pointing them to Christ.
Each week, the team hosts a podcast titled “MUM Life Community.” They discuss different mom-related topics such as children, marriage, and everything in-between. The core values of MUM Life are to “Serve others, reach the community, and impact the home.”
“To be a mum takes everything,” said Helen Smallbone. “I liken it to running a marathon where you really don’t know where the finish line is or how many hills or turns [there are]. Yet, you’ve got to keep running and moving forward. And you’ve got to pace yourself so you can finish strong.”
Smallbone believes that her role at MUM Life was God-given, and she is very passionate about the community. There’s no denying that being a mom is one of the greatest gifts, and Smallbone encourages women to seek Jesus throughout that journey. Through MUM Life, she helps other moms enjoy the journey.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, (Jeremiah 29:11).
To purchase Helen Smallbone’s memoir, Behind the Lights, click HERE.