Joanne Cash may carry the talent and legendary last name of her big brother Johnny, but her heart is not centered on recognition or gold records. She is completely focused on using the stories that shaped her life to make the gospel message known.
In fact, she just finished recording a cover of the song “12 Gates” with the Oak Ridge Boys. “It talks about the New Jerusalem that’s coming down out of heaven. That’s my heart: Jesus is coming soon. I know it, and I want to take as many people with me as I can.”
Not only does Joanne continue to record albums and perform, every Sunday morning you can find her ministering with her husband, Pastor Harry Yates, at the Nashville Cowboy Church
located at The Texas Troubadour Theatre in Opryland. Recently, she took time out to to share her journey with Leading Hearts mag editor, Amber Weigand-Buckley.
cotton, popcorn, peanuts, and Jesus
I grew up on a 40-acre cotton farm in northeast Arkansas in a little town called Dyess.
I was literally raised on cotton, popcorn, peanuts, and Jesus. In fact, that is what I named one of the songs on my Gospel album.
My mother was a strong Christian. She was the first to tell me about Jesus, and so would my 14-year-old brother Jack.
Jack was called to preach; he was the godliest person that I had ever met at that point in my life. He’d take me to church, and he told me about the love Jesus.
So when he died in a horrible accident when I was
little, I thought Jesus must not love me to take someone away from me whom I loved so much.
I was just so young, I didn’t understand. I didn’t talk or pray about my feelings. I held things on the inside, and it began to affect my life and my heart. Gradually I let that fear take over my life.
When I grew up, I got into drugs and alcohol, trying to cover up the fear that was controlling my life.
In my head, I was convinced that Jesus didn’t want me. Looking back, I see how ridiculous that was. It was such a lie of the enemy.
return to the house of Cash
So in the early 60s I was living in Houston Texas. I had just come out of a divorce and was adjusting to life as a single mom to two beautiful daughters and a son, when Johnny called me.
He said, “Joanne, I just want you to do what I ask you. We’re bringing you home to Nashville; we love you, and we will help you.”
He told me to put what we needed in the car and that he would send a moving van. I didn’t fully realize the extent of love and help they were extending to me.
It was during that time I began working for Johnny in his office—he had named it “The House of Cash.” In the Bible you can read about the House of Joseph or the House of Paul—he called his office the House of Cash.
While I was there, one of my co-workers kept asking me to go to church. I later found out that she was a pastor’s wife. In my head, I knew she didn’t know my secret—that God didn’t want me. So I didn’t accept her invitation.
Shortly after that, we were flying back from a Cash family reunion in southern Arkansas when we ran into a hailstorm. There were five of us and the pilot on a one-engine, six-seater plane. It looked like we weren’t going to make it.
It was one of the most horrible experiences I ever remember; we all thought we were going to die.
In that moment I cried out to God: “If you will love me and show me how to find You, I will give you all the rest of my days of my life.” All of a sudden, like a jolt, we came out into the sunshine, and I knew Someone had heard my prayer.
A short time later the pilot landed the plane safely in a suburb of Nashville. When he landed, everyone was silent. Johnny’s face was as white as chalk, and so was the pilot’s. When we got out of the plane, the pilot walked around it—it looked as if it had been beaten with a hammer. He shook his head and walked away.
So, the very next morning—Sunday, October 17, 1970—I was at the church before the pastor’s wife.
That day, I received Christ. I can’t even explain the feeling I felt. I felt a warmth from my feet all the way to the tips of my fingers. No one had to tell me I was saved and delivered. I was free. Since that day I
haven’t had drugs or a drop of alcohol.
The youth leader in the service that Sunday was Harry Yates. This December we have spent 45
wonderful years married, and together we pastor the Nashville Cowboy Church.
i am not Ashamed
Every Tuesday night for 16 years I’ve held a concert in the Opryland area. I start my concert by raising my hand and saying I am Joanne Cash. I’m saved, and I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I share it everywhere I go.
As Christians, we can be so afraid of offending others but not afraid of offending Jesus. Remember: Stand up and Be Bold for Jesus.
You can find Joanne’s music and her feature-length documentary,“I Do Believe,” and info about the Nashville Cowboy Church at her website: www.Joannecash.com. Every Sunday at 10 a.m. CST tune into www.NashvilleCowboychurch.com to watch the livestream of services.
Article in the Feb 2017 issue of Leading Hearts magazine. Text LEADINGHEARTS to 95577 to get this issue delivered free to mobile device. Get more info at leadinghearts.com.