Estina launches a ministry in gospel
For years, Estina Francis was content singing with choirs or hiding behind her piano. Gradually, the Lord ushered her into the spotlight.
This month, the 33-year-old will take her boldest step by far, Estina Music.
The aim is to use stories, music and acts of service to bring others closer to God. Ms Francis tells Religion about her endeavour Ö
Q: How long have you been singing? What is your earliest memory of performing?
A: If you ask my mother, sheíd say Iíve been singing as long as Iíve been talking. Ironically, my journey didnít begin with singing. I started out playing the piano at four years old, being classically trained at The Bermuda School of Music.
My first exposure to music ministry was at 12 years old when I became the pianist for my church, New Testament Church of God, Healing Centre.
My love for the performing arts came from being a part of the Berkeley Institute choir, as well as Ah! Tempo, Bermudaís premiere show choir and performing arts programme.
Q: How did it evolve from that into a passion/ ministry for you?
A: Growing up, I preferred the comfort of the background, singing in my church and school choirs.
However years later, while attending Oral Roberts University, I joined the worship department and eventually became one of the lead singers.
I led worship in several ORU chapel services and on missions trips throughout the US, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, before audiences from as small as the number of fingers on my hand to literally thousands.
I am currently one of the worship leaders at the Healing Centre. Regardless of the size of the audience, the results have been the same ó Godís presence shows up and the focus turns to Him, where it belongs. And I gladly take the background.
Q: Had you always dreamt of pursuing this type of ministry? How did God impress upon you this was what He wanted you to do with your time/talents?
A: Becoming a worship leader, singer and songwriter was the farthest thing from my mind growing up. Iím much more comfortable hiding behind a piano.
I was always afraid of the limelight ó and still am to a degree ó and never volunteered to be in the forefront. However, my experiences with ORU worship and missions revealed part of Godís destiny for my life.
The only time I ever sense this is what I was made to do is when Iím leading worship.
Iíve tried to resist and abort this calling many times, but no matter where I run, I end up running right into it. I canít escape the calling of God any more than I can escape my own skin. So, I simply yielded.
Q: Did you grow up in the church? If not, what led you to getting saved/ giving your heart over to the Lord?
A: Yes, I was born and raised in the church. For a few years my parents pastored the church Iím currently a member of. I loved church so much that my grandfather nicknamed me ďChurchĒ. The presence of God is what drew me to Him.
My encounters with His presence are the reason no one can convince me He doesnít exist. I gave my heart to the Lord around the age of seven years old, shortly after my biological father passed away.
I believe not having my father in my life is why I clung so tightly to God in my youth. However, I didnít remain on the straight and narrow as I entered my teen and young adult years. My relationship with the Lord has definitely been tested many times, but His love continues to relentlessly pursue my heart.
Q: How would you describe your music? What is the underlying message, purpose or hope behind your songs?
A: The vision of Estina Music is to make people aware of Godís presence through songs, stories and acts of service. My music primarily shares my conversations with God, and are most suitable for worship settings.
However, I absolutely love to tell stories ó both about my personal journey and those Iíve observed in the lives of others. I hope to convey a message that captures the reality of human experiences while highlighting Godís personal investment and involvement in our journeys through life.
Q: Have you seen God use you/your ministry to impact peopleís lives?
A: Yes, I have, and it is a very humbling experience. One of my most memorable ministry moments was on a missions trip in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Our team was leading an evangelistic service in an area overtaken by drugs and prostitution.
So much so, that the community was ďgatedĒ in an effort to control the spread of crime in the area. I was unexpectedly asked by the host to lead worship ó he said heíd heard about my voice from someone who had attended a previous service.
What he did not know, and I did not disclose, was that I was sick with a recurring cough that compromised my vocal cords and wasnít sure I could pull through. Initially, there was hardly anyone in the building. Just my team, our host and a few of the people from the streets.
I started to sing in English and closed my eyes.
When I reopened my eyes, several more people had come in from the streets ó known drug addicts and prostitutes. Iíll never forget the tranquility on their faces as we led worship. Remember, I wasnít singing in their language, Spanish, and so I know it wasnít my words that drew them in.
I knew the presence of God was in the building and that He was touching their hearts.
I must also mention that I had literally been coughing every moment of every day that we were there. I didnít cough, not once, while leading worship, or thereafter.
God had healed me in the midst of worship. Iíve witnessed this kind of impact more times than I can count. This is how I know Iím called to connect people with Godís presence.
Q: What do you think has been the most important lesson God has taught you?
A: The most important lesson actually came through my maternal grandmother.
She tells me every time we speak, ďNever let go of the Lordís handĒ. Iíve learnt the hard way that I do not exist apart from God. Every time that Iíve tried to live by my own terms without consulting Him, everything falls apart. As a gifted individual, it becomes really easy to become confident in my talents.
Itís tempting to believe that Iíve attained success by my own strength but nothing is farther from the truth.
I am nothing without God. Everything good that comes to and through me, is from and through Him.
Q: You have something special happening on December 15. What is that and how can people support?
A: I will be making a special announcement on social media about my upcoming projects. I will also be leading a small worship set. People can view live at 7.30pm Bermuda time, or catch the replay, by following my Facebook page, Estina Music.
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