“And he has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”
— Psalm 40:3
Mia Stevens is singing a new song these days.
Recently surrounded by other members of a new local choir, the 23-year-old enthusiastically sang the words to a worship song:
“From my heart to the heavens, Jesus be the center. It's all about You, yes it's all about You.”
Stevens, 22, is one of the leaders of the Jesus House choir called “Reaching Out.” Rick Denny, the homeless shelter's executive director, said the choir will debut May 18 at the second annual Block Party at the shelter, 1335 W Sheridan.
Stevens said she had been clean from drugs for about a year but relapsed and was court ordered to participate in the Jesus House's residential treatment program for homeless people suffering from addiction and mental illness. The young woman, who once auditioned for the reality TV show “American Idol,” said her singing abilities were noticed by Jesus House staff and she was asked to be part of the new choir.
Being a part of the choir — something good and positive and inspiring — “feels good,” she said. Singing faith songs of hope and inspiration helps drive out the memories of desperate times and a troubled past.
“I feel worth something again. I feel like I have purpose,” Stevens said, smiling.
Denny said the choir was something he knew he wanted to begin when he became the shelter's director in 2011. He said the choir made up of about a dozen people will travel with him to various churches and other organizations where he is invited to speak. Denny said he is hoping that each of the choir members, like Stevens, will be given a sense of purpose. He said the choir also will show the general public that being homeless doesn't mean that one is without hope and a future.
“I'm hoping this helps change the perception about what type of person is in a shelter and what their potential is,” he said.
“This choir is one more example of how the people here are learning how to forsake their former lifestyle and re-engage in the community.”
Meanwhile, another choir member, Joe Hibler, 21, said he was a “shower singer” but comes from a family of individuals who sing well. He said he decided to add his tenor to the choir because of how it makes him feel.
“It's one of my ways of coping with my addiction,” he said. “It just makes me feel free.”
Denny said the choir started rehearsing about two months ago and has received much support from Jesus House staff member Robin Totten, who will serve as the group's staff adviser. He said several faculty members and students at Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College in Moore also have come alongside the choral group to serve as singers, musicians and coaches.
David Flores, a musician and Hillsdale faculty member, said he developed a friendship with Denny and wanted to help the shelter. He said he is blessed by aiding in the choir's development.
“It's an opportunity to make music and worship God, which is what I live for. To share this with the residents is just awesome,” Flores said.
It's an opportunity to make music and worship God, which is what I live for. To share this with the residents is just awesome.”David Flores,
a musician and Hillsdale faculty member,