In life or death situations, it can be easy to blame God for what's happening, to sink down into a state of depression and lose all hope of ever being able to go back to living a normal life. Paige Omartian, a 22-year-old Christian speaker, author, and singer, knows how tempting it is to despair. Doctors diagnosed Omartian with cancer when she was just 11-years-old. But as she struggled for her life, Omartian found strength through her faith, emerging with a different perspective on life and a new sense of purpose.
During her illness, Omartian got the chance, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to go to Nashville, Tenn., and record a Christian album. Some of her songs made their way onto the Bath & Body Works 2005 Holiday CD.
After losing all of her hair to chemotherapy, having to use a wheelchair because she had trouble walking, and enduring the pain that comes with cancer treatments, Omartian finally got a clean bill of health in 2002. Ten years later, she is still cancer free.
In 2007, the year before she was supposed to graduate from Plumstead Christian High School, in Plumsteadville, Pa., Omartian moved to Nashville and joined iShine Live, a national tour of speakers and musicians reaching out to a young teenage audience. At the same time, Omartian signed with Whiplash Records and released her first rock album, "Wake Up." Several of her songs, including "Episode" and "Wake Up," made it to Christian music's Top 30.
Recently, through Harvest House Publishers, Omartian signed a contract to publish her first book, called "Wake Up, Generation." It is scheduled for release in August. Using Bible verses and her own personal testimony, Omartian hopes to reach out to young people and help them to discover their God-given mission: "If you're still breathing, there's a reason why you're still here," Omartian recently told readers on her blog (paigehasastory.wordpress.com).
During a break in writing, Omartian sat down to answer a few questions about her life, her new book and her future plans.
What inspired you to write "Wake Up, Generation"?
Going through cancer at age 11 definitely changed my life and opened my eyes to just how precious life is. We're not promised tomorrow. Many young people today seem to think, 'Oh, we're young and can get it together later on in life.' They seem to have a feeling of apathy. Just because you're young doesn't mean that God doesn't have a purpose for your life. God has given me this message and helped me to grow this book, so to speak. Apathy is running wild in our generation and we need to break the hold that our culture has on us.
How long did it take for the book to go from conception to completion?
I realized at age 16 that I had a message to get across to young adults and began writing down my ideas. I wrote down verses as they came to mind and then started working on chapter titles, so it's been about five years in the making.
Who do you hope to impact most with your book?
Anyone really. While my book hasn't been published yet, I've had some adults who have read it already come up to me simultaneously and tell me how much my book has helped them to re-realize their purpose in life. This book is meant for all people of all ages who need to be reminded that, at all stages of life, we have a mission that God is calling us to. We need to live out our calling in life, and resist the epidemic of apathy that is hitting our generation.
When and how did you become involved with iShine Knect?
They basically helped me to get where I am now. I moved to Nashville after my senior year of high school… and was offered a spot s a speaker with a traveling group called 'iShine.' I met with the record label and our deal was that I was to be the speaker and perform music for a tween audience on the tour. After a year or so, they created a TV show called 'iShine Knect' and asked me to be the host. I'm no longer with them, but I'm still very closely connected with the people that work on the show.
How did you feel when some of the songs from your debut CD, "Wake Up," made the Top 30 charts of Christian music?
It was a very awesome feeling. I would look at the list of artists that I had admired and who had inspired me and see my name right next to theirs. It was an out-of-body experience. It was like, 'Thank you, Lord!'
After signing with Whiplash Records, what are your hopes for your future as a singer?
At first, I wanted to be a recording artist, but then God turned it around and I realized that ministering through my blogs and writing is my first passion now. I want to be a speaker and author, while singing and producing music on the side. I don't feel God calling me to fully pursue music, but my husband is a producer and we're working on songs and writing them together, tying them into the things that I've been writing about.
Do you think you will write another book in the future?
Actually yes. I have several ideas for books that I would like to write, but I'm currently working on one with my mother-in-law, called Book of Prayers for Young Women. It's neat that we can come together to write prayers about certain issues in young women's lives that they may want to pray about, but can't find the words to say. It's scheduled to come out in early 2013.
What would you say is the verse, or verses, that have carried you up to this point in your life?
The one verse that has carried me through is definitely Romans 8:28 - 'And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.' - I've seen that verse played out in my life. For example, going through cancer was one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do, but through being able to overcome that, I've seen that promise be fulfilled in my life. Another personal one is Hebrews 10:35 - 'So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.' - " When I said yes to following Him, I was given another chance at life. I pretty much told Him that He could do whatever He wanted in my life and He's taken me up on it! God has helped me to persevere through my insecurities and has shown me that other people will be blessed through it.
What advice do you have for young adults getting ready to enter the "real world"?
I understand completely. It's a rough transition time, and if you don't know why you're here or what your purpose is, just ask God. It's essential to discover what gifts you have and to know how to use them in order to pursue the passion God has placed in us. There is a mission for all of us to live. Questions like 'Where am I supposed to be?' and 'Why am I here?' always seem to come up just as we're entering our young adult years. But I know one thing. God will not leave you hanging, and that is something tangible for us to live by each day.