Creative Christian Moments
“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”
Blog Article 31: Email Interview with musician Lisa Mitts
When one thinks of Seattle and its contributions to the United States of America, often thoughts about art, music, technology, and counter culture trends surface in the mind. But this city also possesses a dark attribute that continues to cultivate and taint this city’s reputation: the epidemic of human trafficking. Seattle ranks third in the nation for cities of human trafficking exploitation while this cancerous pandemic continues to expeditiously grow. Every night, 300-500 teenagers are trafficked alone in the Puget Sound. Human trafficking does not distinguish between races, ethnicities, and income levels: all teenagers are considered targets by traffickers.
To counter this onslaught against our communities’ teenagers and children, a coalition has emerged founded in a motley alliance of religious communities, nonprofits, politicians of all political party spectrums, and law enforcement. Together these groups are sharing information and resources as they work tirelessly to retrieve victims from captivity, heal the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual degradation of victims, and reintegrate them back into society. But this coalition is not enough; often it takes a grassroots movement from artists in the community to shift the paradigm of citizens to act. One such musician answering the call to be a voice of the victims through music is Lisa Mitts.
“From small coffee shops to large outdoor festivals, and worship gatherings to concert halls, Lisa’s music is being heard all over the Northwest and many other parts of the U.S.” (Mitts, 2014b, para. 18). To date, Mitts’ has released four albums entitled My Heart Burns (2009), Deeper Love (2010), You Found Me (2011), Waiting for You (2013), and Songbird (2014). Mitts and her husband were founders in establishing The Defender Foundation’s Seattle Chapter and played a key role in establishing a rehabilitation center for victims of human trafficking called Destiny House Restoration Center in Renton, WA.
Check out her her new album at the link here: http://www.reverbnation.com/lisamitts
I originally met Mitts at a partnered human trafficking awareness event hosted by The Defender Foundation’s Seattle Chapter relaunch in May 2014. Being a writer and always looking for new Christian artists to highlight, I was drawn to Mitt’s music and her work with the Destiny House Restoration Center because she has pledged much of her music to raising funds to support this shelter. In her own words, her album Songbird is “dedicated to the countless numbers of young women held in the chains of sex-trafficking” (Mitts, 2014a, n.p.).
Barry Irwin Brophy: For those who may not know about you or your band, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your music?
Lisa Mitts: I was raised in a musical family – my dad had an amazing voice and was part of the famous Cornell Glee Club and had the chance to audition for the Metropolitan Opera. I grew up on the piano from the time I was 6 years old, and then later had some voice lessons and guitar. I then went to college at University of Florida as a Music major but switched to a minor in music performance after my freshman year – I realized I didn’t want to be a concert pianist and chose the School of Journalism and Communications as my major. I then laid my music aside for many years after I got married and had several children… it wasn’t until around the end of 2002 that I began to really play, lead worship and started writing my first songs. Then it started coming very quickly and I started writing in Hebrew also when we moved to Israel for 4 1/2 years (2006-2010). We would come home here to Seattle to visit in the summer and that’s when I began to record professionally- I recorded my first album, “My Heart Burns” in 2009. From there things developed into Lisa Mitts Music and a lot of performing, especially the last two years for raising awareness and funds to rescue and heal women from the sex-trade industry.
Barry Irwin Brophy: How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?
Lisa Mitts: Oh that’s a long story 🙂 We came to faith through the Amway business we were part of back in 1988…it was really through the example of leadership and testimonies of people we respected. But God had a special plan for us because we are Jewish…we would never have walked into a church, no offense but a lot of churches are not real ‘friendly’ to their Hebrew roots. 🙂 So, The Lord connected us directly to other Jewish believers who were able to relate to us. At the same time, we had been in the New Age movement for 7 years, actively seeking Truth and desiring power in our lives…yet, always coming back to emptiness and feeling lost inside. I also have a personal story that people can read on my website (www.lisamitts.com) – I was raped and attacked at knife point at the age of 25 and lived with extreme fear and anxiety. Even though I was raised in a loving Jewish home, celebrating all of The Lord’s feasts, I still did not know God personally and when this trauma happened to me by a total stranger, I didn’t know how to reach out to God to get healed. It was at a major convention back in July 17, 1988 after resisting the drawing of the Holy Spirit for almost a year, we couldn’t resist any more and attended a worship service at the end of the convention weekend…we gave our lives to Jesus, or in Hebrew, Yeshua (I like His Hebrew name since that is what He grew up with) and our lives have never been the same since! We had a total transformation of our hearts and minds and here we are 26 years later and it’s still an amazing journey with The Lord and His Spirit!
Barry Irwin Brophy: Tell us a bit about your current music projects. Music videos, new songs, tours, etc.?
Lisa Mitts: I am so excited that a recording project I have worked on for more than a year is now finally released! Songbird is my best project to date, and was produced at the famous Castle Recording Studios in Franklin, TN. It is a compilation of many genres including rock, worship, country, ballad and there’s even a song that sound a little like the 70’s band “Renaissance”. Several of the songs have some of Nashville’s most well known and respected musicians on the album (Gordon Mote, Joel Keys, Chip Davis and more). All of the songs are original as all of my albums are…but this one is extra special to me because it is dedicated specifically to the sex-trafficked victim who has lost her voice and is forgotten…the silent ones. This is the meaning of the lyrics in the title cut. I am hoping to do another music video to this but need to sell a lot of albums to raise the funds for it. I also would LOVE to get back on tour as I have taken off a year for this project and to recover from a very busy schedule of performing all over the Northwest the last few years.
Barry Irwin Brophy: How has God been using the band to spread His Gospel message? Any stories?
Lisa Mitts: Well, I have two aspects to my music – one is that I lead worship every week at our small congregation here in the Seattle area. I don’t consider that performing and I have always done that now for 12 years without pay…it is my service unto The Lord and it keeps my heart in the right place. In that arena, I am always spreading the gospel for whoever is there with us worshipping and participating. When I go out into the public arena whether it is at a coffee shop, winery or a fundraiser concert, I always try and share a little about my story and God’s love, how He has healed me in so many ways. I am so dependent on His grace and forgiveness and for that I have to give Him thanks!
Barry Irwin Brophy: What do you think are the biggest obstacles within the Christian Church institution in America and how can we change to be more effective in preaching the Gospel?
Lisa Mitts: I think the institution of the Christian Church in America has become exactly that in many ways…an Institution. It can be cold, big, and consumed with numbers and how big they get. Churches seem to be more ‘seeker friendly’ and less concerned about how God would really feel if He walked in the doors. I know there are a lot of positive things that the church has done in reaching people and helping bring the message of salvation and forgiveness to the lost…but I personally think it needs to be more about discipling and empowering others to live a life worthy of the covenant that Jesus died for on our behalf. My husband always preaches that if it’s only about salvation and going to heaven, then there’s no point in being here on earth now. It has to be about living a life that is holy and dedicated to The Lord in all that we do and helping others to leave a legacy for the next generation…not just about how big our church gets, how big the offerings are, how many people get saved, or how many new cell groups get started.
Barry Irwin Brophy: How do you think your music will influence the coming revival?
Lisa Mitts: My prayer is that my music will draw people to know Him and make Him known. I am not the typical contemporary Christian artist – I am virtually still ‘unknown’…and my music has a different sound than what you typically hear on the radio or in churches today. But I think it is SO vital that we stop trying to sound like everyone else. I know there are tremendous worship bands like Jesus Culture, Hillsong, and too many others to name here, that have made a huge impact in the Christian music genre…I love them and have been blessed but I also know that God has a specific sound He wants to bring into the earth through me and through others that don’t fit into that same mold. My hope is that my music will strike a chord in the hearts of people to have a deep encounter with Him, a real encounter, and not just a performance thing with big lights, etc. I also know that people have told me they love the Hebraic foundations I bring into some of my songs – I think that is missing in the contemporary world of Christian music today and people are hungry for it.
Barry Irwin Brophy: I applaud the work you are doing by educating the community about human trafficking through the use of your music and through Destiny House Restoration Center. Can you give me a summation of Destiny House Restoration Center: its founding, services offered, and any other organizations you’re working with?
Lisa Mitts: Here is our mission and purpose statement found on our website: “Destiny House will be a safe harbor where young women can find hope again and healing for the cruel and relentless attack upon their true identity and purpose in life.”
Destiny House is also a unique and vetted program, unlike any other in the U.S., that will be a model for other treatment homes for the healing and restoration of sex-trafficked victims ages 18 and over.
We are very blessed to have Dr. Stacy Cecchet as our Executive Director of Treatment. Dr. Cecchet is the leading expert in the U.S. and the ONLY Ph.D. who did her dissertation on sex-trafficking in the U.S. She has appeared before Congress and has the support of both of our state senators here in Washington State. We also have Phil Martin on our board who is the director of Compassion2One.
Barry Irwin Brophy: I’m currently working on a novel myself about a human trafficked victim and her Cinderella story of escaping captivity and making something of her life through the power of the Gospel message. How do you think music will play a role in standing up for the cause of anti-human trafficking movements? Are there any other artists or organizations you are working with or know about that are doing the same?
Lisa Mitts: I think music is SO key for this cause of anti-human trafficking organizations because music goes straight to the heart. It was a music video we saw a few years ago by Luke Dowler called “Our Silence is Shameful” that inspired us so deeply in our hearts to do something…my husband turned me and said ‘We need to make a music video from your song “Where Has Love Gone?” specifically about this!” From there we raised thousands of dollars needed to produce the music video and hired a professional company with actors here in Seattle…the music video has reached into many places and has impacted so many people in ways that just words cannot do. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRL3thJQsIE
I am also one of the artists working with IJM (International Justice Mission) and they have been SO supportive of my music and getting the word out on Twitter about my recent album, especially in order to raise money for Destiny House, since I am donating half of the albums profit sales.
Barry Irwin Brophy: I’ve done some work with local anti-human trafficking organizations around the community and I’ve experienced quite a lack of support from the Christian community and just apathetic attitudes in general. What are some of your answers to individuals who want to reduce this epidemic down to something not important or dismiss the problem all together?
Lisa Mitts: Yes, we have encountered the same and it is truly sad. I think a lot of people in the church don’t want to face the fact that this problem is in 3rd world countries and not here in our own backyard…but the truth is it is 2nd largest crime in the world and especially here in the U.S. I think a lot want to just give a one time donation to a large church or organization and then be done with it…they don’t want to roll up their sleeves and do something – at least that has been a lot of our experience. But we are thankful that there are some who have come alongside us and are ready to help especially with a hands on project like Destiny House Restoration Center, where we can take in these women and start the process of healing. I think the answers lie in helping others to know the facts and how they can personally make a difference.
Barry Irwin Brophy: On August 9th, I participated in a Men’s March Against Trafficking Demand representing the Christian author community and there was quite a collaboration occurring with religious and secular organizations in Seattle, WA. Some of the organizations represented were REST – Real Escape from Sex Trafficking, Escape to Peace, Seattle Against Slavery (hosted the event), The Defender Foundation Seattle Chapter, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (hosted the event), Seattle VICE police officers, Project I.A.N.A.O., Washington Engage, and multiple Christians from around the Puget Sound. Have you seen similar collaborative efforts arising within the community of organizations you have participated with? What are your opinions on how these organizations and organizations in general can better work together?
Lisa Mitts: I am well familiar with all of those organizations…just as a side note, my husband and I were the ones who coordinated the efforts and people originally to establish The Defender Foundation, Seattle Chapter. That was THE purpose of my music video, “Where Has Love Gone?” On June 16, 2012, we had our first Benefit Concert at Bellevue Foursquare Church, where we announced and established the Seattle Chapter of The Defender Foundation. In attendance that evening were several reps of organizations including The Genesis Project, Compassion2One…we also had Mack Strong, well known retired Seahawk, the director and producer of my music video, Gary Voelker of Experience Studios, most of the cast and production crew and two other artists I invited to perform before me and my band. It was an amazing night that many still remember.
Barry Irwin Brophy: How can the Christian church get more involved in anti-human trafficking prevention than just awareness? What are some local and international organizations you have worked with that are making awesome progress in eradicating enslavement through alternative means?
Lisa Mitts: I think I shared some of that above…obviously large organizations like Shared Hope International and IJM (International Justice Mission) are making huge headway in the nation, effecting and changing laws for justice…especially changing the mindset that these girls want what they are living out, instead of putting the responsibility on the Johns and pimps. I still think we need to deal with eradicating the demand for buying sex and get to the root of men who would do these kinds of things to children and young women. Until we deal with the demand, we will always have the problem.
Barry Irwin Brophy: What advice would you like to give to Christian musicians just getting started? Please provide any helpful tips or painful lessons of what not to do.
Lisa Mitts: I would say that you have to make a fundamental decision early on…I was given good advice from a friend, Derek Hoiem who owns Save the City Records here in Seattle …I recorded most of my albums at Derek’s studio. He told me “Lisa, you need to stick to your ministry and purpose for your music and not get caught up in trying to be big and famous. God will bless the right motive.” And you know that is really the truth and has been the case for me. I think there are so many young people who are truly gifted and talented, much more than me, but their hearts are so vulnerable to having to be famous and tour the world… I would ask them “what kind of eternal value are you bringing through your music into the lives of people one on one?”
Barry Irwin Brophy: What software, equipment, etc. would you recommend to someone on a tight music budget or just getting started?
Lisa Mitts: HAHA! I am totally clueless about that one 🙂 That’s why I always have to raise tons of money to record because I go to places like the Castle Studios where they have AMAZING equipment! I just show up. 🙂
Barry Irwin Brophy: I’ve also encounter many struggling Christian musicians who have given up on pursuing their calling because of chaotic hardships in every form imaginable. These guys and girls are really in the fire right now and have been severely burned. If you were speaking with them one on one what would you say to them?
Lisa Mitts: Again, like your previous question, I would say “Know why you are doing what you are doing and if God is calling you to this as your ministry, then you need to trust Him. He who began a good work in you SHALL complete it until the day of Messiah”. If we don’t know why we are doing our music and to whom our trust belongs, then the chaos and struggles will be devastating because we have lost our purpose and vision for why we are doing what we are called to. If you don’t know that purpose, then I would stop and get that right first with God.
Barry Irwin Brophy’s Closing Thoughts on the Interview: Like the mythical phoenix arising from the ashes, Mitts’ and her work with human trafficking survivors demonstrates the powerful redemptive work that is accomplished by women consumed with the compassion of God while they are ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit. The more and more I work with other anti-human trafficking organizations battling in the trenches of society to end this epidemic, the more altruistic selflessness I witness. Musicians like Mitts understand that their music plays an importance role in the global puzzle piece of God’s redemptive plan for the world. With this understanding, Mitts’ music is honest, emotion producing, and presents her the freedom to state her opinions without the overshadowing enigma of political correctness water down the raw emotions from human trafficking.
I also appreciate the Jewishness Mitts brings to her music. One of the greatest calamities in the Christian faith has been the Church’s willful ignorance of its Jewish roots. Given the rapid growth of Gentile converts to Christianity in the first few centuries after its establishment, the importance of Jewish culture vanished from many western sects. But with such a vast amount of information available in today’s society, the Christian Church has been shifting back to its Jewish roots by understanding Jewish culture. Furthermore, to truly understand the Bible and the birth of Christianity, an understanding of Jewish culture is essential.
You can support Mitts first and foremost in prayer! Volunteers within the anti-human trafficking movement desperately plea for community prayer covering of fellow Christians. Next, you can also support Mitts through registering her for a concert at your church or event. Thirdly, Mitts would also welcome opportunities for people to help support the awesome work Destiny House does in restoring human trafficked victims to wholeness. And finally, connect with Mitts through social media. Like many of the artists I blog about, Mitts values those who support her music and is always looking for ways to partner with other Christians, nonprofits, and community leaders to eradicate human trafficking in the Seattle community. In Mitts own words she writes, “I would love to also hear from you…I value your input and friendship! With so much happening in our lives these days, it is good to stay connected and blogging is one good way to do that!” (Lisa Mitts’s Blog, 2014c, para. 2).
Lisa Mitt’s Pages
Official Website: http://www.lisamitts.com
Anti-human Trafficking Organizations
Destiny House Restoration Center: http://www.destinyhouserc.org/
REST – Real Escape from the Sex Trade: http://www.iwantrest.com
Seattle Against Slavery: http://www.seattleagainstslavery.org/
The Defender Foundation, Seattle Chapter: https://www.facebook.com/TheDefenderFoundationSeattleWA
Escape to Peace: http://www.escapetopeace.com/
Project I.A.N.A.O.: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectIanAo
Washington Engage: http://www.waengage.com/
Lisa Mitt’s Blog. http://www.lisamitts.com/blog/welcome-to-my-blog/ (accessed September 11, 2014)
Lisa Mitts Music. Profile Picture. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/LisaMittsMusic/photos/pb.154715354545041.-2207520000.1410813267./744266868923217/?type=3&theater (accessed September 15, 2014)
Lisa Mitts – Where has the Love Gone? – [Official Video], YouTube, 4:42, posted by david mitts, May 30, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRL3thJQsIE (accessed September 16, 2014)
Mitts, Lisa, email sent to author, August 28, 2014.
Mitts, Lisa. “Home.” http://www.lisamitts.com/index.html (accessed September 15, 2014)
Mitts, Lisa. “Lisa’s Bio.” http://www.lisamitts.com/about.html (accessed September 15, 2014)