By Katie Ginn

I was browsing YouTube recently and came across an “America’s Got Talent” audition by a girl named Jane, whose stage name was Nightbirde. She was alarmingly skinny, with a pixie haircut, and looked about 14 years old. Turns out she was 30. And terminal.

Fittingly, Jane sang a song with the message that it’s OK not to be OK. She was a talented lyricist with a lovely voice, she knew how to perform, and she sang with joy and conviction.

Kitchen Tune-Up

After the judges gushed for a minute or two, Simon Cowell pushed the Golden Buzzer, which meant Jane would automatically advance to the live shows. Gold confetti rained down on the stage. Jane covered her face in shock. And y’all, I bawled my eyes out. Partly because this woman had just been given a wonderful gift during probably the worst time of her life – but also because I was worried for her soul.

The video was from June 2021. She said after her audition that she had a 2 percent chance of survival. Had she passed away? Most likely. Was she a believer? She seemed overwhelmingly positive, but a lot of people can seem overwhelmingly positive and go to hell. Her song said, “We’re all a little lost, but it’s OK,” and I had theological issues with that.

I looked her up. Yes, she had died. In fact, her cancer had kept her from performing in the AGT finals. Then I read her Wikipedia entry: She’d attended Christian schools, but that didn’t mean anything; she’d later written music that “wasn’t meant to be sung in church” (uh-oh); she’d opened for Christian artist Tori Kelly once? Hmmm.

Then I visited Jane’s Instagram, now run by her family. In so many of the posts, they talked about how much she’d loved the Lord. Well, they might’ve been playing up the faith that they thought they’d seen in her before. Before she got sick. Before she went through a divorce (the same year her cancer came back after remission).

But as I went deeper into Jane’s feed, I saw videos of her singing worship songs about Jesus during her illness. I saw posts from herself that confirmed what her family was saying. I came to the logical conclusion, and I rejoiced. I was so glad that Golden Buzzer wasn’t the best thing to happen to her. Jesus was. And now she was with Him, praise God!

Golden Buzzer moments are designed to be emotional. You just know this performer has worked so hard to get here, and now a judge has used a big shiny button to tell them, “You’re good enough for the live shows.” What sweet relief!

Our salvation usually doesn’t look this dramatic in the Bible Belt. We’re already immersed in church, so when somebody gets immersed in the baptismal, we might not even shed a tear (despite crying over singing competitions).

But what really makes our salvation different than a Golden Buzzer is this: We can’t earn it. To borrow talent show terms, we have no “talent” in and of ourselves. When we “audition,” we’ve smoked a pack a day and shown up unwashed and hungover. We’ve sung off-key and off-beat. Even if we have worked hard to please our Judge, it’s not good enough. God’s standard is perfection.

And yet. If we come to Jesus to turn our lives over to Him, it doesn’t matter how bad our song is. He’s the only Judge at the table, and before we can finish singing, He comes up onstage, hugs our guts out, and tells us we’re home. It is finished. We can rest now.

And wouldn’t you know, we do have some talent after all (given to us by Him), and He shows us how to use it. Amen! What a privilege it is to glorify Him.

Like Jane, cover lady Debi Green’s story also involves divorce and cancer, though she has long outlived her initial prognosis. But more than overcoming these trials, or experiencing “Golden Buzzer” moments in her career, Debi treasures her relationship with Jesus – the God who welcomes the prodigal home. Check out her story on page xx, and enjoy this edition of MCL!

Jane “Nightbirde” Marczewski’s family has started a foundation in her name. Find out more on Instagram @nightbirde.

Pro-Life Mississippi