Singer/songwriter Meredith Andrews (’05) walked into Liberty University’s prayer chapel one day last spring and said the quaint building was just as she remembered it. She was immediately drawn to the old piano in the corner, and said it was probably the same piano she used as a student to write the first notes to “Satisfied,” a song she eventually recorded on her first album. With husband Jacob Sooter at the keys of that old piano, Andrews broke into song, giving an impromptu performance of her hit single “Strong God.”
|Meredith Andrews sings while husband Jacob Sooter plays piano in Liberty's prayer chapel.|
The return visit to campus proved to be nostalgic in other ways, too. The former member of Liberty’s Campus Praise Band who now holds the title of Dove Award-winning artist was excited to have her family (including young sons Maverick and Remington) join her on the trip, which doesn’t always happen with a busy tour schedule that takes her all over the country. A chance to show them around campus and to sing at nearby Thomas Road Baptist Church and in Liberty’s Convocation was an opportunity she said she couldn’t pass up.
“It feels like coming home in many ways, but it does look much different even since I was a student. I need a map!” the Wilson, N.C., native said. “It’s so amazing to return and see how God is growing Liberty. He is obviously moving here.”
Since graduation, Andrews has enjoyed the flurry of opportunities God has afforded her. The first came when she was hired as a worship leader at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago (where husband Jacob also serves as a music director, worship leader, and producer). In the process of moving to Chicago, she also got connected with songwriters in Nashville and ended up traveling there to write music. She was quickly introduced to a record label, Word Records, which has produced three of her albums. While in Nashville, she also met her husband, a former keyboard player for Christian music artist Jeremy Camp.
“I kind of stole him from Jeremy; Jacob says I’m prettier,” Andrews said jokingly. “Jacob and I are both on staff at Harvest, yet our church graciously releases us to travel about half the year. We also have two little boys now, so that has been a whole new adventure in itself. How is it that I graduated eight years ago and now have two kids? What a whirlwind. I’m loving every minute.”
Andrews released her label debut, “The Invitation,” in April 2009. The touching single, “You’re Not Alone,” quickly gained national attention. She released another album, “As Long As it Takes,” a year later, earning Praise & Worship Album of the Year at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards. Adding to that success, her song, “How Great is the Love,” earned her another Dove Award for Worship Song of the Year. Her third Word album, “Worth it All” (featuring “Strong God” and “Not For A Moment”), was released in early 2013. Since then, Andrews has continued to lead worship and perform at women’s conferences and church events. In December, Andrews joined the K-LOVE Christmas Tour and teamed up with headliner Big Daddy Weave for the single, “Ring the Bells.” In March, she will meet up with more Christian music stars for The Bible: Son of God Tour 2014, featuring music inspired by the epic miniseries “The Bible” and the feature film “Son of God.”
Andrews shared with the Liberty Journal how God used her time at Liberty to prepare her for His special work of uplifting the heavy-hearted and leading His people into meaningful and passionate worship.
Each event affords its own unique opportunity. After all, every audience is unique. Recently I got to lead worship for a mom’s conference of about 4,000 women and I was told around half of these ladies didn’t know the Lord, so what a sweet privilege to share my story and songs and tell them how Jesus has forever changed my life and wants to do the same in theirs. I brought Mav and Remy out on stage with me, of course. If you're going to show your kids off, you do it at a conference full of moms! I told the story of how my second was born on my bathroom floor because he came so fast. You know they loved that! Regardless of the crowd before me, my only aim is to share my journey in a way that shines the light on Jesus. I count it an incredible joy, honor, and responsibility to do what I do, because for me, it’s a chance to deeply impact people’s lives for the Kingdom and encourage them to not grow weary in the fight. I pray people come away from our time together saying, ‘Tonight I met with God.’
I remember when I was 17, the Lord spoke so clearly to my heart regarding His calling on my life. I was at a Rebecca St. James concert and felt such a deep desire to do something similar to what she was doing. It was like a fire burning inside of me. I gave over that desire and prayed, ‘Lord, I don't know what it’s supposed to look like, but I want You to use my life and these gifts for Your glory. Maybe You want me to serve in a local church, and I’m great with that, just please use me.’ What God said to me that night has marked my life. Simply this: ‘Meredith, be faithful where I have placed You.’ That's it. Be faithful. Don’t get ahead of Him. Grow where you are planted. Do what God has put in your hand right now and He'll accomplish what's in your heart. Preparation and growing can feel hard, but they are so necessary in order for us to be able to receive all the Lord has in store. God has used every season, every relationship, every failure, and every opportunity to shape me. He is so faithful to finish what He’s started in us, and He is ultimately using each twist and turn in our journey to draw us nearer to Himself.
One day at I time, one foot in front of the other. I don’t have all the answers, and because our life tends to be quite unpredictable, we have learned to just roll with it. Flexibility is key. I think it's safe to say that everyone feels a sort of tension between family and ministry and career at some point in their lives. It’s a balancing act. I'm learning to constantly re-assess my priorities. When I was single I could be on the road all the time, and it wasn’t a big deal. Now whenever I say ‘yes’ it also requires something from my family, so I’m trying to be more intentional, praying through every opportunity that comes my way and honestly asking, “Is this life-giving? Is it wise? How will it affect my boys?” My family comes first. I am so thankful for my supportive husband. We balance each other out very well. There are times when it makes more sense for him to stay home with one or both of the boys, and other times when it makes more sense for us all to go together. We take it day by day and trust the Lord. When I’m home, I generally stay in my sweats and cook and wrestle with my kids. I love being home. Every day, whether it’s hundreds of people or hundreds of diapers (eek!), I need the Lord’s strength and guidance. I cannot do it without Him. He shows His power where I am weak and He keeps me sane. I am no supermom; I am not Superwoman. But with the Lord alive inside of me, I can rest in knowing He will accomplish His purposes for my life.
Absolutely. I don’t think there is ever a week that goes by that I don’t think about my time here. From the girls in my dorm (19-1) and the lifelong friends I made, to my classes and professors, the unforgettable experiences with Campus Band, Light Ministries (the former name for Liberty’s short-term missions office) and mission trips to Guatemala, El Salvador, Romania, and India, it all prepared me for where the Lord has me now. I remember well being a student and not having a clue what I was supposed to do with my life. I switched majors a few times, from Spanish to Music to finally landing on Family and Child Development with a Worship minor. Yet God knew all along. He always does. He sees the entire landscape even when we can only see the next step. He is teaching us to trust Him and enjoy the now. For me, every moment spent at Liberty was precious. They were some of the best years of my life.
Incredible. How awesome to see what God is doing at Liberty. I was here when Doc (Liberty founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell) was still alive and had the privilege of knowing him. He liked to antagonize the guys in Campus Band every now and then and affectionately called me ‘Squirt.’ I’m so honored that I got to be a part of that era. Now I am sitting back and watching his dream and vision carry on through his sons and other staff here, and it is so amazing to see. They are carrying the torch. Doc used to say that if Liberty ever turned its back on God after he was gone, we had permission to burn it down. But with these leaders and professors and pastors and students in place, I have no doubt that Liberty Mountain will always light up the darkness with the hope of Jesus. Raising up Champions for Christ … it has always been and will continue to be the primary goal of Liberty University.
You’re right. Obviously I’m not at Liberty anymore, but virtually everywhere I go I meet someone who went to Liberty. It is so cool to see how God is using each one in different capacities, in their own corners of the world, to make a lasting impact. My friends have gone on to be missionaries, teachers, writers, mothers, nurses — all carriers of the Gospel that changes lives. I’ve heard countless stories of alumni who say, ‘That was my training ground. That was the season God had me in to prepare me for right now,’ and it’s awesome to see. We are on the front lines. And for me, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.