There’s something about Kari Jobe that has always intrigued me: No matter how many people know her, how many times her songs are played on the local radio stations and how many times she sings on the platform at Gateway Church in front of thousands of people, she is still humbly dependent on the Lord and focused on pleasing Him. When I asked her what helps her stay so connected to the Lord in the midst of all that is happening around her, she said, “I stay grounded because of the experiences I have had of absolutely knowing that God is real. It’s not about me. It’s all about Him.”
I’ve attended Gateway Church now for nearly five years, and I’ve always been blessed by Kari’s melodious voice and her songs of love and adoration to the Lord. Since I’ve never had the opportunity to sit down with her for a one-on-one chat, I eagerly awaited our rendezvous over coffee at one of her favorite little spots—Sandella’s Cafe. Sitting down with coffee in hand, Kari settled into the overstuffed sofa. “I would love to one day buy a house and turn it into a coffee shop where all of the rooms would have different themes, and I would live upstairs,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
While twirling her silver necklace around her finger, Kari told me about her family and what a wonderful influence they’ve been on her. Before she was even born, her parents, Mark and Sandy Jobe, were given a grave verdict regarding her health. Kari’s mother, Sandy, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and underwent surgery. After her surgery, Sandy continued to feel sick. So the doctor ordered extensive x-rays to make sure there were no more tumors throughout her body. During this time, Sandy was exposed to high levels of radiation. When the doctor performed more tests on her, they discovered she was pregnant. The bad news was, the x-rays and the surgery that had been performed were extremely harmful for unborn babies.
Kari explains: “The doctor gently told my parents what was wrong and then proceeded to tell them that they should just abort me due to all the radiation my mom was exposed to and the medicine she was given for the surgery. The doctor believed I wouldn’t develop properly and that I would be a vegetable for the rest of my life. Well, through tear-stained faces, my parents told the doctor that they would never dream of having an abortion. They would just trust God and carry me for nine months. So that’s what my mom did, and although she was very sick the majority of the time, she carried me to full term. I was a miracle baby; I came out completely healthy! The Lord made sure I was protected during the surgery and throughout all the treatments. I think He just put His hand over my little body and protected me from any complications.”
When I asked Kari what she wanted to be when she was a little girl, she said, “Honestly, I wanted to be a singer.” She continued, “I’ve always loved music and would watch other girls who sang at church or on a stage, and I had such a great amount of admiration for them. I started singing when I was two. My mom and dad traveled and ministered in churches, and they would have me sing because they thought it was cute. After that, I just never wanted to quit singing.”
Through traveling with her parents and experiencing the presence of God at such an early age, Kari knew from the time she was young that life was all about God and having a vibrant and real relationship with Him. I asked her to talk about when she first started to feel God’s call to ministry. “When I was 10 years old, my parents were counseling and helping some of my extended family with marital problems. Even though I was very young, I understood that my family members were hurting. At one point in time, I was riding in the back seat of our van listening to the song ‘I Wait for the Day’ by Michelle Patterson, and I was so moved. I wanted to sing like that. I wanted to minister to people through songs that bring life and healing.”
When she wasn’t singing with worship teams and enjoying God’s presence during youth group, Kari enjoyed playing volleyball for seven years, dancing her way through ballet classes and experiencing the delights of being the homecoming queen of L.D. Bell High School in Hurst, Texas. She later went on to attend Oral Roberts University, Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI) and Dallas Baptist University and received her Bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministries and Psychology with a minor in music.
At the age of 25, Kari is the oldest of three children, and she says that her sister Kristen is one of her closest friends. “Kris knows me—all of me—and she sees me as more than just a singer. She sees me for who I really am and loves me unconditionally. Also, my brother, Caleb, is the most amazing brother ever!”
Kari has always had a strong love from God for people and a desire for people to love the Lord through worship. In her eyes, “Worship is an intersection. It’s where heaven and earth kiss.” Kari says her greatest dream in life “would be to stand in a stadium full of lost people who have come seeking God’s presence. As people gave their lives to Him, I would be singing to the Lord. I don’t even know if I’d actually be able to sing though, because I’m sure I would just be weeping. Salvation is the most beautiful gift. I would also love to start an orphanage some day to help take care of God’s little kids.”
As I was speaking with Kari, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the passion and excitement for life that emanates through her. This passion, she tells me, “comes from moments spent on my face in God’s presence. Whether that’s been in a worship service in my youth group growing up, at NewBreed youth camps, Oral Roberts University, CFNI or in my own bedroom, God has revealed Himself and His presence to me in such real ways through visions, dreams and glimpses of His glory. I like to say that ‘I have been wrecked by Him.’ I desire nothing less than more of Him. He is so good.”
Kari’s knowledge of God and experience with Him causes her to live a life devoted completely to worshipping God in all that she does. “Worship is one of the only things we do here on earth that we’ll also do in heaven.” Kari explained, “I don’t think we understand even a mere glimpse of all that God is worth. He deserves our everything. I wish we all understood more of the power we have in the authority of Jesus. He conquered death and the grave; He’s not limited by anything. In the Bible, God says He will exchange our spirit of heaviness with a garment of praise. The atmosphere of our lives can be altered by His presence because He is so good. His name is above every other name. His name and His ways are all that we need. So no matter the circumstances, whether big or small, He can cover, shelter, rescue, love and forgive. This is why the enemy fights so hard to keep us from worshipping and spending time with the Lord. If we don’t worship, I think we forget just how powerful God is and how powerless Satan is.”
As I watched Kari interact with the people walking in and out of Sandella’s who recognized her, I was once again reminded by how kindhearted she is. She shows kindness to all those around her without partiality. Kari is an amazing role model, not only for women and the younger generation but also for all those who wish to experience God deeper in worship. When I asked her about how she’d like to impact the next generation, she said, “If I could say anything to the next generation, I would tell them to never ever, no matter what, settle for less than God’s best for their life. He knows our dreams and goals better than we do, and He will completely and totally direct our steps and help us to guard our hearts all throughout our lives. I could have been saved from many heartbreaks and heartaches if I would have held onto this truth. Let Him have your heart until He lets you give it away … whether to your dreams or a future mate. He’s more committed to seeing your destiny come to pass than you are.”
Kari is passionate for God, life, people, worship and living her dreams. As her three friends entered the café to join her for what was now the lunch hour, Kari left me with one last thought: “You only live once, so live life to the fullest, without regret, and follow your heart!”
Getting to know Kari
What are your favorite movies?
Ever After, Pride & Prejudice, Toy Story and Ice Age (I love Sid the sloth!)
Where are your favorite shopping spots?
Anthropologie, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters and vintage thrift stores
What is your favorite flower?
What is your favoritetype of food?
Greek or Japanese
What do you doto just chill out?
Watch a chick flick, get a massage or go shopping
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Hanging out with my adoptedgrandpa and learning how to drive his Model T car
What is your favorite place to hang out?
Coffee shops when it’s freezing cold or raining outside
What is your favorite type of music?
Worship or Christmas music
If you could have dinner with any four living people, who would they be?
President George W. and First Lady Laura Bush, Darlene Zschech and the Queen of England
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I worked at Sonic for seven years as a carhop
Purchase Kari’s album at www.karijobe.com or in the Gateway Bookstore.
Learn more aboutKari and her music at myspace.com/karijobemusic.
By Sarah Wronko -
header photo by Jessica Sheppard - jessicasheppard.com
Sarah is the Managing Editor for Studio G. Sarah and her husband, Aaron, have attended Gateway Church for over four years and live in Keller. Together they lead a Gateway Group for young married couples.