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Billingsley talks medical battles, safeguarding his Christian character

RUSTON, La. (BP) – Charles Billingsley has faced several medical battles, but with each trial he remained focused on praising God who eventu­ally gave him victory, he shared with the Baptist Message in an exclusive interview, Jan. 23.

In 2007, Billingsley nearly lost his voice after a blood vessel burst on his vocal cords, leaving him with a polyp and unable to sing for several months. Then, in 2020, he spent Easter quarantined with COVID. Through those times, Billingsley said he rediscovered God’s gift of worship.

“I remember I went up into the Blue Ridge Mountains (in 2007) and sat at a picnic table when I was reading a book by my friend David Jeremiah called ‘A Bend in the Road,’ and I couldn’t make any noise,” he said while at the 2024 Louisiana Baptist Evangelism Conference.

“But it’s crazy because in the midst of all that reading I was just crying out to God asking Him to heal my voice that I would be able to sing again. And in the middle of reading — while I was out in the middle of the woods — this big old huge maple leaf just came and landed right smack dab in the middle of my Bible, right as I was crying out to the Lord. And I just felt like the Lord was basically using that little falling leaf to remind me that He’s ever present, He’s ever sure, that He was going to heal my voice, and that I would have a new season of power and wor­ship more than ever. And sure enough, it happened.

“And then several years later I ended up in the hospital with COVID and once again the Lord just kind of renewed my heart and spirit on this whole gift of worship because my voice was fine this time,” he said. “But this time, I couldn’t get the air in my lungs. And once again God just showed me how dependent I am on Him for everything, even the smallest thing in our lives, like taking a breath of air. And it reminded me again of how Jesus is so right when he says, apart from me, you can do nothing.

“In COVID, not only did he finally heal my body but what he healed first was my spirit and my soul,” he continued. “And once again I had to learn how to worship the Lord all over again. You don’t learn how to worship the Lord from a mountaintop. You always learn how to worship the Lord from the depths of the valley.”

Blessed career

Billingsley’s career has included time as a lead vocalist for Grammy-nom­inated group NewSong, appearing at more than 3,200 concerts, recording 24 songs as a solo artist and landing seven No. 1 inspirational radio hits.

He said he never dreamed he would have such a fulfilling career that began off a dare from his friends to sing in high school.

“I honestly wake up every day still shocked and surprised that this is what I get to do for a living,” he said. “It’s funny because even the very first time I sang that first solo in front of all my peers something felt very natural about it. And so, it’s just been what I’ve done.

“But over the years, you don’t really get tired of the work, but you do get tired in the work. And sometimes you can have discouraging nights or be a part of a conference or something that didn’t go like you hoped and all that. But honestly, I enjoy every second of it, I enjoy every note that I get to sing. And I’m very grateful, specifically for the Southern Baptist Convention, because it is truly these Baptist churches that have been so incredibly faithful to me, that it has given me longevity in my career, and I’m very grateful.”

Guarding his Christian witness

When he is on the road, Billingsley has instituted safeguards to battle temptations.

“There’s a boundary in my life that is an imaginary line around my life that I just keep, and I don’t allow myself to go outside those boundaries,” he said. “Once it’s a principle in your life, and you get used to abiding by those principles, and you really begin to consider the cost and the price that you pay personally if you do go outside of those boundaries, then you have to ask yourself is it really worth that if I do this?

“I’ve had all kinds of opportunities to mess up, but thankfully, the Lord’s kept me from it,” he continued. “But I think the main thing is you have to keep those guardrails up especially in two different situations. First of all, when you’ve had a great victory, like after we have a huge night or a big conference. That’s when you tend to throw down your guard and when Satan is likely to attack. Also, when you’re heavily fatigued or tired, these are also moments when Satan is on his attack. So, I have to be very careful in those two instances every time I’m on the road to make sure that my guard is up, and that I am well defended and protected in those moments.”

Balancing life on the road, family time

When his two sons were younger, Billingsley was on the road up to 230 nights a year and nearly lost his family. But Billingsley said he hired a life coach, who helped him balance life on the road and at home.

“He helped me find some balance and things are much better now,” he said. “But I tell you, the secret to that deal is learning how to say ‘No’ to the good things so that you can say ‘Yes’ to the best thing. And that is probably the hardest challenge I ever had in my life. My wife, Shae, helps me determine which ones are the best things and which ones are the good things.”

Prayers needed

Billingsley asked for prayer that he would re­main pure and holy before God.

“Another thing would be to pray for my family and work balance and for the health of my voice and ministry so that I can have quite a bit of longev­ity. I don’t plan on quit­ting anytime soon.”

This article originally appeared in the Louisiana Baptist Message.

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