If I could bring about a change in Southern Gospel Music, I would wish for more young people to be involved in this life-changing ministry, whether it’s singing or just attending a concert. Thankfully, the younger generation is not a facet lacking in The Allen Family. Out of the eight children in their family, six currently travel and sing with their parents. From singing acapella to service in Africa and surviving life on a bus, The Allen Family does it all and all for the glory of God. Their love for Christ and passion to share the Gospel are well displayed through their willingness to use their many talents for Him. This passion and love they all share is especially shown in the youngest daughter of the family, 19-year-old Abby Allen.
Although currently based out of Louisiana, the distance from Africa does not stand as a barrier between this girl and her devotion to ministry. Inhabited with a love for kids, Abby is in charge of the children’s ministry in Uganda, but that is not her only gift. Abby also sings the alto part in her family’s group which has been voted Mixed Group of the Year twice. The message her family wishes to proclaim to others is clearly portrayed in the song Abby is featured on entitled, “God Loves You.” This song and numerous others such as “Life in the Storm” and “Talk About the Lord” have found a place on the Southern Gospel Top 80 radio charts. Although their family lives and travels on a bus full time, Abby’s interests keep her busy outside of their ministry as well with writing, playing instruments, and working with animals. I recently had the opportunity to interview Abby and find out a little more about her and her family. While doing this, I found that, regardless of the task at hand, this talented musician’s utmost desire is to serve the Lord and bring Him honor.
Stacy Compagner: Tell us a little bit about your family’s ministry outside of singing, and what role do you play in this?
Abby Allen: Outside of our ministry in the U.S., we started a mission organization called Hope’s Cry International back in 2013. We’re currently focusing on central Uganda and have several outreach programs, as well as an orphanage that houses 21 children with 2 widows as their caretakers. I’m the Sponsor Relations Coordinator for Hope’s Cry International, so I handle correspondence between sponsors and the orphanage children they support. I also lead children’s ministry when we take teams into Uganda every summer, and help plan and organize mission trips.
SC: What is the most rewarding part of your singing ministry and your ministry in Uganda?
AA: I would definitely say the most rewarding part is being able to encourage people and impact lives. I love ministering to people through our music here in the states, but the work we do in Uganda will always have a special place in my heart. Just being able to see the transforming hope of Jesus Christ in lives as we bring the Ugandan people the gospel – there’s nothing else in the world like it.
SC: What is the best part about living on a bus 24/7, and what is the worst part?
AA: I honestly love traveling and having the privilege of seeing so much of the world. I’d say the best part is waking up to a new place every day. Being able to experience so many different cultures within the U.S.. Ironically, the worst part is also the traveling. Much as I love it, it can also get tiring after a while. Mostly the times when I’m missing family and friends and wish we could stay in one place longer than a few days. But in this case, the good generally outweighs the bad.
SC: When did you first start singing gospel music, and do you plan on doing this in the future?
AA: We’ve been traveling and singing for 21 years, and since I’m only 19, I was born into the ministry. I was on stage with a microphone in my hand before I could walk. I love what we do, and while I want to pursue other things as far as future ministry, I would never want to completely give up traveling and singing.
SC: What is playing in your CD player/phone now?
AA: Either Jason Crabb’s album Whatever the Road”, or Brian Free and Assurance’s album Live Like We’re Redeemed. (Bill Shivers is the greatest lead singer in the southern gospel industry.)
SC: What person in gospel music has had the greatest impact on your life?
AA: Ooh, this is tough. I think I’d have to go with Jason Crabb. Watching the way he interacts with all his fans and makes everyone feel special and important – regardless of how busy he is- has always impressed me. Also, the way he handles his popularity with such humility and grace inspires me. He’s just a really great guy and an amazing role model.
SC: If you could pick another career, what would you do?
AA: I’ve always wanted to start my own equine therapy program with a focus on veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I love working with horses and using the gifts God has blessed me with to reach out and minister to others. I also feel like God is directing me toward training therapy and emotional-support dogs as another ministry outreach.
SC: What was your scariest/most embarrassing/funniest moment on stage?
AA: I would say the scariest moment was on the Sunday morning of my 19th birthday when I got up in front of the church and introduced a song I had written and gave a brief testimony about the song. Talking on stage is a big deal for me anyway, but I was twice as nervous because this was the first time I had ever performed any of my original music in front of anyone before. My parents hadn’t even heard the song before. And I played piano to boot, (for those of you who don’t know, I don’t really play piano). But it went really well, and I was beyond grateful I followed God’s direction and did it.
SC: If you were told you could sing only one more song at one more venue, where would you sing, and what song?
AA: I would sing “Clear the Stage” by Jimmy Needham at my home church, River Fellowship, in Hammond, Louisiana. That song has had such a deep impact on my ministry perspective and I love singing at my church. Being at my church is like coming home, and God has blessed me so much to be part of such an incredible church family.
SC: What is your favorite Bible verse now and why?
AA: Currently my favorite verse is Psalm 61:2, which says, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” A few months ago I was having some struggles with my faith; I recently stumbled back across this verse and it made me think back to those struggles. This verse really encourages me because I know that when my heart is overwhelmed, I don’t have to carry those burdens on my own. Whatever I’m facing, I can always go to the Rock that is higher than I, and He will relieve my spirit of its burden, and I won’t have to struggle on my own.
SC: Tell us something unique about yourself that no one knows?
AA: I’m not sure there is anything about me that no one knows. But if we aren’t counting my family or my best friend, I’d tell you that I’m a huge fan of old black and white movies. Mainly anything starring Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, or Jimmy Stewart. I also have the majority of Anne of Green Gables and the 5-hour Pride and Prejudice committed to memory.
SC: Looking back at your life in the past, what advice would you give to the younger generation?
AA: I would advise them not to waste so much time worrying about what their peers think. Looking back, I regret all the times I allowed the opinions of others to influence my actions more than I allowed what God expected of me to influence my actions. People will judge you regardless of what you do, but when you realize how much God values you, you begin to see yourself through His eyes and value yourself more. So don’t sell yourself short, and never let what others think get in the way of doing what you know is right.
SC: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
AA: I enjoy fooling around with my guitar and writing songs. I also listen to an excessive amount of music, experiment with different recipes, write fiction, and play a lot of sports with my brothers. Aside from playing sports, I also enjoy watching football (mostly pro, but also college (Geaux Tigers!)) and golf on TV. I couldn’t play golf to save my life, but I enjoy watching it, nonetheless.