“I dreamt many times of making it and getting in front of a crowd and playing music.”
That’s a lofty vision for any kid who’s alone with a guitar and dreaming his empty bedroom will someday become an audience of thousands. But country singer and songwriter Jimmy Wayne still believed.
That was no small accomplishment given his tumultuous childhood, which didn’t exactly teach him life was filled with possibilities.
His mother was bipolar and wasn’t receiving proper treatment, so Jimmy never knew what her behavior might be on any given day. Occasionally, she was loving. Most of the time she let the household spiral into chaos, abuse, and violence.
Five stepdads were in and out of Jimmy’s life by the time he was 13. Number five put a loaded gun to Jimmy’s head and might have killed him had Jimmy not made a move that sent the bullet through the car windshield instead, allowing him to escape.
The next night, number five did shoot someone, and Jimmy and his mother wound up with him as helpless passengers in the getaway car. For days, they were on the lam, driving from state to state until one night in Florida. Jimmy was ordered out of the car. His mom gave him a tearful kiss, and she and number five disappeared into the night … leaving 13-year-old Jimmy standing there in a parking lot.
He was on his own.
Over the next several years, living in foster care, Jimmy’s dream of a life in music began in that empty little bedroom he couldn’t even call his own.
They say pain can shape an artist’s music. But it can also stir an artist to use what he’s been given to help others enduring similar struggles. Jimmy’s vision for how God wanted to work through him became clear during one of his college classes. He and his fellow students were given a tour of a detention center – the same one in which Jimmy had spent a brief time.
The officer giving the tour introduced the facility by saying the place was filled with “all kinds of trash” – referring to the incarcerated adolescents. Jimmy confronted the officer.
“Sir, you may not remember me, but my cell door used to be the last one on the right, and you were the officer who checked me in on my 15th birthday. Some of these kids have been abandoned by their own families … like in the middle of the night in a parking lot in Florida. We all make mistakes, but none of us are trash.”
Even as Jimmy spoke, he knew God was telling him to “speak up for these kids.” Since that time, Jimmy has used his celebrity to bring awareness to the plight of kids in foster care and to those who age out of the system and wind up homeless.
I’m excited to have Jimmy Wayne on our broadcast today and tomorrow to share the amazing story of how God has redeemed his unbelievably difficult childhood. His heart for orphans is inspiring, especially because we’re so passionate about them here at Focus.
Our adoption initiative called Wait No More has helped almost 3,400 children around the country find forever families. I’m proud of the work we’ve done, but the job is big, and there are still 100,000 children in the system. We have a long way to go.