As young children, we often daydream and role-play, imagining the many wonders that await us in the far-off world of adulthood. We dream of being the greatest basketball player, the most brilliant doctor, the most impactful teacher, and even the best parent. As we grow, we begin to understand that the road paved for our dreams is not always an easy one. For some, the hope of ‘making it in the music industry is what fueled their dreams. This hope was true for one woman, Tina Jenkins Crawley.

Like a young David, the idea of taking on the giant was not new to Tina. In 1991, as a newly baptized student, she found herself as the sole disciple on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. So, what does one do when you’re on your own? You go make more disciples! Before graduating, she’d helped 11 of her friends come to know Christ. During this time, she dreamed of one day using her voice to reach people, just as she’d done sharing her faith with her friends on campus. This dream came to be both her passion and her Goliath.

She’d quietly sing in the church pews, not really confident enough to ask to be a member of the harmonized part-singers or even a choir member—all the while praying that, one day, God would favorably answer her fervent prayer. Though singing was her passion, she patiently waited for God to reveal his timing. As she waited, God revealed new dreams to Tina, those of being a wife and mother. She was blessed to find a man who loved God deeply—one who also encouraged and supported her passions. He then continued by allowing her to become the mother to two wonderful children, who honor both God and their parents.

Her hopes were almost dashed when she was told by a highly regarded vocalist that she should look for a new dream. Pierced by the comment, she retreated and began doubting. After much prayer and support from her family, she decided to face her Goliath. Tina finally stepped out on faith and began singing in the Chicago Church choir. Part singing soon followed.

With her newfound confidence, she began auditioning and was hired as a band substitute for friends who performed with top jazz and pop bands around Chicago. Her big break came when she was hired, not as a substitute, but as a permanent member of one of the most sought-after bands in Chicago. During this time, she continued to pray that she’d still be able to sing the kind of music that moved people toward God. After years of band work, Tina was hired as a worship leader. This allowed her to sing the music she’d longed to sing, both locally and internationally. The years of late-night rehearsals, multi-state gigs, and grueling schedules were finally coming together.

In 2017, she won the prestigious award of Best Gospel Artist for the city of Chicago, beating out some of the most popular gospel artists on the today’s channels. In her career, she’s had the honor of singing background for the likes of Mavis Staples, Cyndi Lauper, Lionel Richie, and countless others. Most recently, she was called to be a guest star on the hit television show, Empire. This was especially significant, as Empire is not a Christian-focused show, often addressing socially-challenging issues. She was not only the guest star vocalist, she portrayed herself—Tina Jenkins Crawley, and sang an inspirational gospel song titled Lighthouse!

The path toward becoming a light in the music industry has been challenging. There are sure to be more Goliaths, but Tina has kept God and family as her focus, not the industry or the lure of success. In doing so, God is using her…for a time such as this. She is an encouragement for those who continue to cling to their dreams to do great things for God and his kingdom. As Tina would say, “All glory be to God and God alone!” Be sure to follow Tina on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and be inspired by her music on YouTube.