ATLANTA (AP) — James Fortune used to watch his children sleep in the bathtub before he lay beside his pregnant wife at night in a motel wondering how he was going to provide for his family the next day.
For the gospel singer, being homeless for seven months in 2007 was the most strenuous stint of his life. The constant letdown of watching others get hired for jobs while he and his wife Cheryl went overlooked weakened his faith. He asked in a prayer why God seemingly abandoned them during their most stressful time.
But, during his prayer, Fortune said he went from being emotionally stifled to at peace. That's when he wrote his 2009 hit song I Trust You which topped the Gospel National Airplay chart for 28 straight weeks.
“I questioned God,” he recalled. “It seemed like God wasn't even there and had forgotten about us … But, in that situation, God gave me the song that changed my life.”
The 34-year-old Fortune and his ensemble called F.I.Y.A (Free In Yahweh's Abundance) recently released their fourth album, Identity, which debuted in the top spot on Billboard's Gospel, Christian and Independent album charts. He is a rising a star in the genre and has opened concerts for some of gospel's best, including Kirk Franklin, Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams and Fred Hammond.
Last year, Fortune launched FIYA World Music Group with his wife, who is the vice president of the record label. Life is totally different these days for the Fortunes, who now have their own home in Houston.
“It's a beautiful testimony,” Franklin said of the Fortunes. “It's amazing how God takes people that have had horrible experiences and (they) use it as a tool to write songs and music that will speak to other people who are going through the same things.”
Now, James Fortune looks at their situation as a “living testimony.” For those who are struggling to find a job and may have found themselves homeless, he hopes his music and story can help others pull through like the lyrics of I Trust You did for him.
“We are an example, a demonstration of God's power and sovereignty,” he said. “To us, we really didn't know what God was doing. But the whole time, he was just setting us up for a great blessing.”
Photo: James Fortune