In Austin, Texas, there are many worthy causes,, amazing praise groups, and no shortage of fine musicians. I recently had the privilege of interviewing one of them, Lawanda "Precious" Jones, from Pflugerville.
1. Tell us a little about your musical style. Who is your musical inspiration?
These types of questions are always so funny to me, because I never really know how to answer them. I write a little of everything. I grew up listening to blues, Motown, r&b, rap, jazz, country, classical, rock, and even opera. So, I find myself listening to contemporary and alternative Christian & Gospel, urban Gospel including rap, and every once in a while blue grass Christian. The people that stand out in my head that I listen to would be Lisa McClendon, Debra Killings, V. Rose, Canton Jones, Mr. Del, The Anointed Pace Sisters, The Arrows (a South African group), Flame, Mark Schultz, Salvador, Sheri Jones-Moffett, and Jennifer Strickland. I know that is a mouthful, but I like music that is ministering not just praise and worship. If I had to put myself in a box, then I would say that I am a lyrical urban gospel singer. I enjoy the rhythms of gospel and write more lyrically like Christian music.
2. What led you to your ministry?
It had to be God, because I didn't choose my ministry from the beginning to sing for God. I always wanted to be a doctor until I realized that you needed to be good with science. My mom made me do choir in middle school. From there, I wanted to be a choir director with a Doctorate Degree until God changed my path with becoming married and having children which interrupted my college education at the time. I always wrote music, but I never thought or wanted to share it. I basically kind of stumbled into realizing that I felt fulfilled when singing for God and it seemed to minister to people. Since, I have been singing the songs that God has given me, God has shown me that others experience the same thing. The songs were meant to help people through their transitions in life. My ministry isn't so much about praise and worshipping God as it is about God is there to get people through their situations. The music is ministering to people and that is praise and worship to God!
3. Tell us about your home church. What makes it awesome?
My family goes to Bridge Community Church in Pflugerville, TX. It is a quaint little church with a lot of friendly and loving people who cares for their community. The part we enjoy the most of BCC is when the pastor gives the Word, you know that it is the Word that God has put on his heart. Our family needed a pastor that wasn't put on such a high pedestal that he couldn't share his testimonies of fear of the thoughts of man. The pastor at BCC is a real man that goes through real situations and cares for people (not all in the church) who have real issues, and he is not scared to share his testimony with people. I think that at the Bridge Community Church people have room to be themselves.
4. Having lived in the Austin/Pflugerville/Round Rock area before myself, I know what a fertile ground there is for ministry. How do you look for and find daily opportunities to "be the church?"
I knew that God had called me to minister, but a long time ago I would run from it. I thought "ministering to people" amounted to those who called people out on their sins and told people that they were going to go to hell if they didn't change right now. However, God had to teach me who I was and to embrace who He made me to be so that I could minister the way He wanted me to minister. Well, I am capable of talking openly and lovingly to anyone. People joke on me for being able to talk a lot and about nothing at all. However, God has shown me that I am capable of making people comfortable in communicating with them; they drop their guards and tell me things that is on their minds and hearts. God tends to give me opportunities like these often to minister to people of all forms. People like neighbors, my children's friends and family, people I go to school with, people that are looked at as different, or even workers that come to serve my home. I am more comfortable knowing that God calls me to minister to people in my everyday life through my conversations and my walk than being fiery and telling people all the things that they have done wrong. There are times that He has me step out of my boundaries like lately going to my neighbors that I don't know and asking them if they want prayer. In everything I do, I let God lead me through my time that I spend with Him, and if I don't hear Him, I will catch myself seizing an opportunity that I didn't even realize as one. (Colossians 3: 23-24)
5. What is your favorite Scripture?
I don't have a great memory, so memorizing scriptures has been really hard for me to do. I know the Word is hidden in my heart to be used at necessary times, but in my past, I have felt condemned because I have a hard time remembering word for word and the address of scriptures and other things as well. I prayed to God one time about my memory, and the Holy Spirit led me to Luke 12:12 "For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say." This scripture is one of the first scriptures that I have been able to remember no matter what time of day it is. It gives me comfort if I begin to compare myself to others who seem "to know scriptures". I may not know their relationship with God, but I do know my application of the Bible and my relationship with God. He is my foundation! And this scripture has been proven true for me in many situations that I have faced.
6. With whom do you identify most from the Bible?
Wow, getting personal... In the past, I have identified myself with the servant who received money from his master and buried it out of fear, but I believe that God has been dealing with the fear within me and transforming me into someone more like Joshua or Jonathon. Someone who trusts God to be God and be willing to attack situations and not wait for them to attack me. For example, I wrote songs for over ten years and never shared the music that God had given me out of fear of being rejected. I still face those types of fears, but now I refuse to let those fears dictate what God is going to do in my life.
7. Android or iPhone (or something else)?
I have an Android, but I also have an iPod Touch that I like to use as well. My favorite part of either is that I can have a bible on it. Because of my Android/ iPod Touch and the encouragement from God, I have been able to read all the way through the bible this year!
8. What are your hobbies/interests outside of your ministry?
I like to swim, hang-out with friends, watch movies, travel, go on adventures with my family, and most of all TALK. I still sing or hum no matter what I do.
9. Tell us about your family (spouse, children, pets, houseplants lol).
My husband's name is James. We became high school sweethearts and married at a young age. My husband loves to coach football and track, and I love music. Together we now have five kids (17, 16, 12, 10, and 6 years old). Each one of them are different as can be and keeps us on our feet. They have interests from simply serving people to planning to be a top U.S.A. Track Olympian. If that isn't enough, we have a Yorkie pup named Prince.
10. What empassions you in the world? That is to say, what causes/charities/social justice issues drive you?
There are causes and issues that drive me due to the things that I have observed in my lifetime. For instance, I want to donate money towards the Epilepsy Foundation to help find cures or better medicine for people who have epilepsy. My mom has it and it was a focal point in my life that introduced me to miracles for my family when I was growing up. I know the stigmas that people have about it, and I would love to be a part of changing the stigmas to the point that people can be seen as people and not the medical issue.
My heart cries out for children and people that have been sexually abused. I want to be able to support an organization that is willing to help children to see that they are worth more than what was done to them. This sad situation tends to happen pretty often, but it is very hard trying to find an organization that serves this area in creative ways.
We believe we should be serving our homeless in whatever ways that we can. That is a mission in itself!
11. Anything else you'd like us to know?
We love mission trips...near and far. Everything that we do in state and out of state should be considered a mission trip. My family and I have served the homeless, supported single parents, gave rides to those that walk, funded missionaries, supplied children for school, prayed for others, and so many other things. We want to go on a mission trip out of the country as a family to serve children and families that are less fortunate like we have done here. We have looked at going to Tanzania, Africa or El Salvador. However, since we have such a big family, we have talked about going to Mexico, but don't know any ministry or organizations to help there. I am sure in time, God will send us.
Why do I change my hair styles so often?
I like to change my hair styles. After God set me free from fearing other people's thoughts of my appearance, I have been free to do my hair however I like to do it. I have even had a blue streak in it. My motto for my hair is... It's just hair, it will grow back. The funny thing is, I have gotten to talk and pray with people of all ages that have approached me about my hair. Who knows...maybe it is a ministry tool! LOL
Why do I go by "Precious"?
When I was younger, I would go to the churches and want prayer from the big evangelists and pastors who were known as prophets. Of course, I would be back towards the end of the line, and as they prayed the things the people that they prayed over were told big things like: "You're going to be teacher that touches many children. You're going to be a known political body. The Lord is going to bless you financially. You will be a millionaire..." When they would get to me the excitement would be so high. They would place their hands on me and then immediately quite the room and look confusingly at me to say, "You're Precious" and walk away. I remember being so angry, because I didn't get some BIG prophetic thing prayed over me. It always happened. When I was getting ready to graduate from high school, my Great Grandmother died, and I even received a golden necklace that was one of her necklaces that she wore all of the time. By that time, I realized that God was calling me "Precious" like He called Abram Abraham. Since then I have researched why He would call me that... To make it short, we look at Him as our treasure, but He really looks at us as His. Even when we are dirty, He is willing to clean us up. We are still worth much to Him because He knows everything about us. Psalm 139 best explains how He created us, knows us, and sees our worth.