My "Friend" Christine Caine
Okay so that I call her my "friend," is maybe a stretch into the land of wishful thinking, however, while she doesn't not know it, but we have walked some miles. I first discovered her fiery, passionate preaching when I attended the Hillsong conference in 2009 in Sydney, Australia. That trip in itself was life changing and shifted so many things in my walk and the whole paradigm of how I think and pray, but that's another story for another time. I had joined the justice stream not really knowing what I was in for. I was headed into one of the side stages having never heard of any of the speakers but looking forward to all the ways they could impart their wisdom. I was sitting near the aisle when this short spunky Australian-Greek woman walked by with a long black coat, went up onto the platform and spoke about the injustices of the world. She shared her experience going to Greece and how looking at poster for missing women inspired her to do something. A21 was born. Again her whole story is an incredible testimony of God using ordinary people in extraordinary ways, but I'm not here to write her whole story...besides she tells it better anyway. I am here to tell you about my journey through fandom and appreciation for her influence in my life.
She didn't have much to follow in the beginning as far as social media and books were concerned. I did support A21 and you better believe I promptly ordered her book Unstoppable when it first released. While I was late to the party for the beginning years of development, when she was working in youth ministry and advocating for youth policies in Australia, but I've followed faithfully since that 2009 Hillsong Conference. I have watched her grow from thousands of followers to millions. I have been in Christian circles where the mention my favourite author speaker has changed from "who?" to "She is so good." Or when asked what famous person would you go for dinner with...I still say her...some people still ask who that is, but they don't know Jesus...yet.
My girlfriends, who I travelled to the Australia conference, have made it a tradition to attend Joyce Meyers' Love Life conference. We had seen Joyce speak in Portland a few years prior but finally made it to the big conference in St. Louis in 2015. Without trying to sound like a creepy stalker, I also knew Christine Caine often attended because Joyce is one of her spiritual mama's. Meeting her was not my focus, but to say it wasn't a blip on my radar would be inaccurate. To save you from the agony of anticipation, I didn't meet her. To be real, I was completely enthralled with the atmosphere and the scene so I wandered around soaking in all I could. (Side note: They do SUCH A GOOD JOB) In my exploration I DID find her seat AND discovered she would be a featured speaker in the conference the following year. Guess who was first in line to sign up for 2016 registration? It wasn't me, it should have been but there are a LOT of ladies at Joyce's Love Life conferences. Through out the teaching and the worship that blip on the radar kept...well...blipping. Finally I decided I would write her a letter telling her how she was a hero of sorts and how she inspires me to love Jesus and people more every day.
I save you all the details of said letter but it was kind, encouraging words of how she had been pouring into my life. Whether or not she received and read it, I'll never know. But it also became my tradition. Conference is in the fall around the same time as her birthday. So I also started bringing coffee and a Starbucks Canadian mug. Again I'll never really know if she ever gets these gifts or keeps them. I like to think that maybe on Canada Day she likes to pull out the Canadian mug from the crazy fan at that one conference and start her morning on July 1st with a little prayer for Canada. Unlikely, but maybe. The reality of my situation was that the closest I was going to get to meeting my hero was a picture with her poster. Which made me happy. Also that I felt like I was on the "in" crowd of knowing how great she is. My friends knew my adoration and they too were excited for me, and agreed to sign up the next year. I guess that's how it actually became a tradition. Just committing to go the following year. Sometimes I think our generation needs to do more of that...just commit to it. Every year whether Chris is speaking or not they have never disappointed. God speaks His message clearly through every speaker, musician, sales person. But I have to say 2016...it was special.
2016 my mama came for the first time on the annual girls trip. (I'm not entirely sure why she didn't come before.) It was the first time she had ever been to any kind of conference. Not only was my hero Christine Caine going to be one of the featured speakers but Beth Moore was there too. Does it get any better?! Joyce, Beth and Chris...Oh wait it does get better because Joel Osteen and Lauren Daigle were also there. Did I mention that 2016 was special? The content and songs still resound in my heart and soul.
I also felt and kept saying and tweeting that this was the year I was going to meet my hero. I didn't know how or when, but I was going to make some kind of effort to make it happen. It was Saturday afternoon and we were dismissed for lunch, and I was talking with a kind stranger who told me after a speaker they go out to sign books....WHICH MEANT MY HERO WAS IN THE LOBBY!!!! I ran. I did not want to miss my opportunity and say hi and get her to sign my book, "UNASHAMED," Which I still might think is her best work. But its also the one that got signed so I might be biased. They literally threw the rope across the line with like 6 people behind me. And wouldn't you believe it...my phone was dead. It's a little ridiculous that I had built it up in head because these people are just people. Its just that I have an enormous amount of respect for the people who do what they do from a platform knowing things they've overcome to get there. I tried to tell myself that she's just a normal person...Good Luck, my heart knows that she's my hero, and it was beating 1000 beats a minute. I timed it. It was precisely 1000 beats a minute. I approached the line and her husband Nick was there so I made small talk and asked if I could pray for him. The Spirit leads where its going lead. Couldn't even tell ya what I prayed for him, but I prayed for him, their family and their ministry. Then I met Christine Caine. She's lovely...I tried to speak...the words hero were too hard to say because tears were welling up and the voice was starting to shake. I can't bawl...that would just be embarrassing if I started to full on ugly cry. Hero was hard...so I tried something simpler...that I had been following her for the last 7 years and that I first heard her speak in Sydney. It was all I could muster. The thing is....it was still a great moment anyway....The other things is I have the greatest friends...who had followed me and took my picture of me with my hero so I could remember for always. (Like I'd forget) Those who really know me though (or if you look close)...they can see the tears, and the emotion of the moment. I full on ugly cried as we walked away. I had just met my hero, dreams do come true.
After the final session we were walking back to our hotel in downtown St. Louis and I looked at my friend after having been so filled by Joyce and the entirety of the weekend and I told her, "you are the Joyce to my Christine." I see their relationship so beautifully, a mentor and disciple. They are both running their race well. The respect and acknowledgement they have for each other shines bright. They recognize they have different gifts in the same genre and spur and honour the race they are each running. Christine has preached and written about passing on the baton of faith and I see that with them so clearly. I feel that deeply with my friend. She spurs me on and encourages me for who I am and the gifts and talents I've been given. So I told her in the streets of St. Louis as thousands of women poured out of the arena and she grabbed my hand and smiled acknowledging that she felt the same way.
You'd think that would be the end of the story. But Christine spoke again in Anaheim in 2019. NO, I didn't talk to her again, nor did I have to prevent the ugly cry from surfacing...but I did hang around the girls at her booth, who work with her all the time. Of course I also dropped off the annual birthday gift. The thing was, at the conference, and maybe a little prior to, God had been stirring in my heart to write. I just had no clue where to even start. So I asked them. I chatted with them in between sessions and they encouraged me to start writing with a blog. That was Christine's advice to one of them. Another one of them even came out from the behind the booth and prayed for me. Her words flowed over me like a light waterfall as I stood opened handed and received the encouragement and prophesy over my life. January 2020 I started this blog which then transformed to the website and is continuing to grow.
From the 2019 Joyce Meyer conference I had been introduced to the delightful Annie F Downs who was to speak at the 2020 Conference in Denver. Long story short, I had started listening to her content and reading her books in preparation. LOVE HER...we too will be friends. In talking with an old college friend of mine she said that Annie often speaks of an organization called hope*writers. I began to follow this group and participated in one of their writing challenges, then I proceeded listened to a free workshop. In the midst of all things COVID and being laid off, I still knew at some point I was going to need to invest in this writing thing. So I pulled the trigger, and excitedly went to announce it on instagram to find that my favourite...Christine Caine was doing a live IG video. So I tuned in. As I watched and listened she took a random fan and just had a chat. This can't be real? I looked at the number of people watching and thought well my odds are pretty high...were only in the hundreds and not thousands. I clicked the join the conversation video. Then it said joining video....my heart started beating that 1000 beats a minute again. Seconds later I was talking to Christine Caine on Instagram. I feel as though this elevated our friendship level. Having a chat on social media does that for true friends don't ya know. I told her it was my dream to go out for coffee with her. She responded by saying that she had a coffee in hand. I semi panicked and looked around for even a cup but had nothing. It didn't matter and we continued the conversation anyway. I told her of the cold northern life in Canada and went on to ask her how to pray without filters. She asked what I meant, and I said I find myself praying through the filter of my experience and gave the example of losing my friend Cheryl (see earlier blog) and now praying for my friend Brittany without the filter of that loss. She told me to pray for the miracle until there's nothing left to pray for, either she's healed or promoted to Heaven. My friend, who is the Joyce to my Christine, had told me something similar earlier that week and the real Christine just confirmed it more. Then she proceeded to pray and get all the people tuned in to pray for my friend down the street. I continue to fight and pray and I will not give up. I also think it has more weight and authority when someone who has conquered a certain battle prays and Christine has battled cancer. So I joined with her in praying for the miracle.
Now I will comment on social media every so often, as though she knows who I am, cause after all we're friends.... She had recently tweeted about her family and I responded with I'll be an extended part of the Caine fam....just call me the Canadian Cousin....she responded with, "We love Canadians." So you see...Chris and I are just at the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Or in the real world, I will continue to open the gate to the truth that she preaches and the wisdom and insight she presents. In a time of content overload, hers is a voice that I will continue to let in. I will also continue to support A21 and rescuing victims of slavery all over the world. If you would like to join in that endeavor you can find all kinds of information on http://www.a21.org or on October 17, there is a digital global summit.
It has been a year since I was lurking around Christine Caines merch booth in 2019. I am forever grateful for the Caine team and their willingness to encourage me. Its been a year and I am still in a place where I need to learn so much more, but I also never imagined I'd be as far along as I am. I am just taking one step at a time. Sometimes I feel guilt about having not have pursued writing sooner, but I've learned to be graceful with myself. I've also been encouraged lately by Christine's podcast that has spoken a word of development, and how King David took over 20 years to become king from the time he was anointed. This gives me hope that I'm not too late and that I might have needed the years of experience to grow, mature and cultivate a deeper relationship with God. I am thankful for Christine's tenacity, her perseverance and her devotion to truth and following Jesus whole heartedly. We are not really friends....yet...(there's still time) and maybe this side of Heaven we will not actually walk alongside each other, but she will continue to spur me on and I will continue to lift her up. One day I know there will be a place where we share a meal, perhaps with Peter, Mark and John across the table because we both believe in the truth of Jesus, that He came to save the us from our sin and give us this extraordinary life.