Judy Felts can be utilized as a keynote speaker, singer or a worship leader for your conferences ministry events, church services, fundraisers and non-profit organizations. For booking contact Lee Porter with Aspiring Mark Agency at Booking@JudyFelts.com or call 615-656-5987
I was raised in a Christian home and actively involved in church all of my life. I came to know the Lord as my personal Savior when I was 9 years old. I understand that it is through faith alone and by grace alone that I am saved. It is the finished work of Christ that paid for all of my sins, and gave me his righteousness. I understand that it is a gift from God and not of works. I was dead and Christ breathed in me new life that I may walk in Spirit and in Truth.
I had two wonderful opportunities to travel with my Pastor to the Holy Land. It was such a life changing experience that I felt a call to serve in some form of mission work. As a teenager, our youth choir sang once a month in Cummins State Prison. I also went on several mission trips with our youth choir. I later became actively involved in community outreach through our church and eventually attended and graduated from a Christian university.
While in college, I had a new experience each summer. One summer I served on a revival team that traveled around the state of Arkansas leading youth revivals. I was responsible for playing piano and singing solos. I later traveled with a Christian group called “Continental Singers & Orchestra” out of California. I served in Baptist Student Union missions and lived in a state park one summer leading back yard Bible studies in Devil’s Den State Park. In my last summer of college, I took a job as music and youth director for a small church in Arkansas, where I served until after I graduated. White in college I had my own gospel radio show on KCLA in Pine Bluff, Arkansas called "The Judy Garman Show. " I have traveled to over 15 countries and served on mission teams in several countries.
After graduating from college, I took a position teaching High School Choral Music in the high school that I graduated from. I established the Choral Music program there along with establishing an elementary music program for one of the elementary schools in that district. I worked there four years until I came to Nashville to be in a show at Opryland, and then later worked as singer and keyboard player for Bill Anderson, Grand Ole Opry Star. It was during this time that I met my husband Michael Felts. We were married in 1982. It was also during this time that I came down with a debilitating eye disease that I struggled with for over 12 years.
Although I have been a Christian for many years, this time of struggle was a defining time in my life. I have spent a lot of years desiring to serve and reach out to women who struggle with many issues in their life. I believe this affliction tuned my heart and opened my eyes to a hurting world. I have often thought about the scripture that speaks of the fields being white unto harvest and the laborers being so few. I feel compelled to share the gospel and encourage others in the service of the Lord. This is how I want to spend the rest of my life.
There are certain people in this world who warm your heart no matter what mood you're in. Judy Felts is one of those people.
Early Signs of Talent
She’d played the piano and sung since the age of 4. She had a great ear for music. So by the time the young prodigy entered high school she was playing piano for the stage band, and became proficient in other musical instruments as well, mastering the clarinet and the oboe. As a result of her coming to love God at an early age, it was clear that His love and blessing had begun to flow through the music of Judy Garman in ways that will clearly last her entire life.
At sixteen Judy was challenged by her pastor, Dr. L. H. Coleman, to accompany him and three other teenagers on a trip to Israel, a trip that proved to be a life-changer. Her time in Israel not only made Jesus more real to her, it cemented her commitment to serve Him in ministry as her lifelong focus.
Her Ministry Widens
Her opportunity to do so was immediate. She joined 100 of her church choir soul mates as they began singing to inmates in prisons. On graduating from high school and enrolling at Ouachita Baptist University with a major in Music Education, Judy expanded on her musical outreaches by singing in choirs all over the state of Arkansas. While in college she took on the task of youth and music director for a small church in Arkansas. She also had her own gospel radio show on KCLA in her hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
After college graduation, she expanded the scope of her ministry joining the Continental Singers and Orchestra. She began a series of tours and outreaches to several countries. She also became the choral music director at her old high school and she established a music program for one of the elementary schools. For four years, she methodically and powerfully built something out of nothing establishing a lifelong pattern of starting slow and turning something into a huge success.
Judy Garman was not just serving the Lord Jesus Christ, she was exploding for Him! She loved Him, and she loved the music He gave her. So she prayed and it seemed His answer for her was as exciting as it was logical: Nashville.
Headed for Nashville and the Stage--Maybe
In 1980, she arrived in Nashville in time to audition for a role in a musical show at Opryland U.S.A., ”For Me and My Gal.” She impressed the producers enough to be invited for a call back audition in Jackson, Mississippi. After that audition, as Judy headed on to her parent’s Arkansas home, the unexpected happened: she contracted strep throat.
But there seemed to be a problem beyond the strep. Unbeknownst to Judy, the strep throat weakened her autoimmune system allowing an insidious virus to invade her body. She was totally unprepared for the devastation the virus was going to cause. The next morning she looked in the mirror and was horrified at her reflection. She could no longer see the details of her own countenance. Something had affected her eyes. She was almost completely blind.
Believing her fuzzy eyesight a temporary thing, she finished getting ready for work, got into her car and started to drive to her college campus. It was then she sensed something more serious was going on. She drove to her mother’s instead and shared her confusion. They hoped it was a temporary condition. But not so.
The virus had taken hold in Judy’s system, directly attacking her eyesight. Something so off the radar, Judy had no defense against it. It was not only debilitating for that moment, it could potentially be devastating for the rest of her days. And it tested Judy’s relationship with God all the way to her core. She suddenly realized this problem with her eyesight could end her career before it had even begun.
A Rare Disease
The doctors told Judy she had a rare disease of the eye, chorioretinitis, an inflammation of the choroid and retina in the eye that could leave her blind for the rest of her life. Without warning—just like that, it came with the devastating side affects of floating black spots, blurred vision accompanied by a hyper-sensitivity to light. In other words, Judy’s life, as she knew it, would never be the same.
The words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7 came to life, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from exalting myself!” Now, Judy had a thorn, too. She struggled with her music. She had trouble with anything relating to sight. She was constantly off balance, like a yo-yo of grief and anger, happy one day and down the next. The optic condition would eventually disappear, giving her hope she would be okay. But then back it would come like her worst nightmare, a storm of frightening proportions that obliterated her dreams—of healing, and of a music career and ministry.
Having the gift of good eyesight suddenly ripped away not only impacts one’s quality of life, it can devastate one’s confidence. At least it did to Judy. Though she still held on to her faith in God, hurt and grief pulsed through her over the dramatic loss of her sight. Each time the disease resurfaced she would lose all of her center vision. She could not drive, read or recognize people. A cruel illness that seemingly refused to go away.
Decision Time—Pity or Progress
After two years of struggling with the disease, it finally appeared to be healed. Judy was filled with relief and joy and was grateful to God for saving some of her eyesight. But, her celebration was cut short. Within a year the disease returned to resurface several times a year, leaving permanent scar tissue damage each time it returned. Judy was slowly losing here vision, and hope.
In 1982 the attacks lessened to the point where she could musically function again. And as a result she began working as a singer and keyboard player for the Grand Ole Opry star named “Whispering” Bill Anderson, who had seven #1 country hits including the classic, “Still.” Yes, that Bill Anderson. Judy was not only playing alongside this legend, she was slowly but surely growing as a professional musician in the country and Christian music capital of the world. In spite of her eye problems, Judy was beginning to live her musical dream.
Also during these Nashville days Judy met God’s man for her life, Mike Felts. They fell in love and were married in 1982. He was now part of the Garman family parcel.
At the end of 1983, Mike asked her to move to Louisiana where his company was transferring him. So, as a loving and supportive wife, she of course moved with him, making a huge music career sacrifice. Judy’s Nashville dream was over. But joyously, God moved to start a new season of blessing. She was expecting their first child. Then, disaster struck again: the virus came back.
Emotional about leaving Nashville, weighed down with the actual details of the move, needing to be strong for her baby and supportive of her husband, Judy was hit with a wrecking ball right between the eyes—or more specifically, in her eyes. Beyond her human comprehension, but because she knew God is sovereign, she prayed for healing. He answered yes. Miraculously, the disease stabilized until three weeks after she had her son. Then, she lost all of her center vision for four months.
Working through the anger and grief, she cried out to God that He would heal her eyes. He chose not to heal, but rather do something much more life-altering: He gave her a gift from Philippians 4:7, “a peace that passes all understanding.” Judy accepted it and she had a new determination to make the most of her blindness, even if it meant she would have to attend a school-for-the-blind. She prayed, “You are more important to me than my eyesight, Lord.” She meant it, too. She was ready to give up everything for Him; as Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
For seven years, Judy Felts was tossed back and forth by the waves of a virus that came and went at will. She clung to the hope that He was faithful in her struggle. She never allowed depression to overwhelm her. She believed that someday, God would heal her. Her prayer was finally answered in 1991.
After twelve years of struggling with the disease, her perseverance paid off through God providing her the eye specialist, Dr. John Bond. He contacted Judy to tell her he had heard about a new bacterial medicine that could possibly cure her. He told her that he had found a virus in her blood test that could have been there for several years. If this was the virus that was causing her eye problems, and there was a good chance this drug would heal it, or at least arrest it. Bingo!
A New Season
Judy was ready to show her gratitude to God. Over the next several years, as her eyes healed and her confidence returned, it was time for her to get moving again. In 1995, soon after the Soviet Union collapsed, she joined a mission trip to the Ukraine
and was mightily used by God to share the gospel of Christ through her music. At her 5000-strong local church, Judy became one of the regular featured soloists. She also began again to do some recording. During those days Judy attended a church-meeting where guest the speaker, musician and arts-in-missions specialist Rev. Byron Spradlin, gave a message on ‘Music & the Arts in Ministry and Missions.’ She was blown away. Could there still exist ministry options for a musically-gifted mom, with two kiddos? So she went up after the talk and asked just that. Byron’s reply? “Judy you have not yet begun to really minister through your music. These next years will be the best years for your ministry-through-music.”
By this time Judy and her husband, Mike, had begun a real estate business. Judy had also launched a region-wide women's ministry called Christian Women in the Marketplace (now Christian Women Connect, http://www.christianwomenconnect.org). For over a decade Judy and her team have declared the Gospel through testimony and song at a monthly luncheon at a regional country club, designed specifically for women from all walks of life.
In 2000 Spradlin introduced Judy to his ministry efforts in the Chapel services at Nashville’s Tennessee Prison for Women. Now, Hundreds of incarcerated women, without hope and incapacitated by guilt and loneliness, meet Judy Felts. She challenges women behind bars to not only give their hearts to Christ but to share His message with their cellmates.
What is her future from here? Judy continues to minister in the women's prison. She is on the Board of Artists in Christian Testimony Intl (since 2000), offering her unique perspective on ministry, locally and around the world. Over the past twenty years, Judy and Mike have used their profession as REALTORS to serve the Lord by helping people find the perfect home for their families and careers. The Felts see this as their unique way of ministering in the community.
Judy is now following a new vision God has given her—a teaching ministry to women with her gifts of music and teaching. She's still moving out, offering her life experiences to invigorate luncheons, banquets, Bible conferences, worship services and any other meetings where women gather to be challenged by His Word and His Spirit. All of this flows out of her ministry philosophy, which began on that little family parcel of land in Arkansas—a blend of harmonies made up of sweetness, joy, spiritual warmth and a charming determination, all brought together through the beautiful working of God’s Word and Spirit. Judy says, “I believe that it’s vital for God's people to have a solid foundation in what the Bible teaches. A good understanding of the Bible is crucial for a healthy, effective life, one that is only found in Jesus Christ. It is my heart’s desire to declare His glory and sing His story to those inside and outside His Church. I simply want to serve His purposes in the lives of others!”
The girl from Arkansas who loved music, through all her trials and troubles never stopped smiling. She's taught us to be faithful to Him under the most personally painful of circumstances.
The Miracle Updated
January, 2013 found Judy blessed with another angel from the medical profession, Dr. Bob Turney, who fitted her with a powerful contact lens that now allows her to see almost as well as someone with normal vision. The miracles just keep coming.
Judy lives with her husband, Mike in Franklin, TN. They have two children and one grandchild. She currently serves on the Board of Artists in Christian Testimony Intl (A.C.T.) which sees its ultimate objective to worship God and express its faith through people around the world using their own language and cultural style to mobilize and train church and mission leaders in being more effective in communicating the Gospel through music and the arts.
See Judy Felts’ new videos on YouTube:
Contact Judy Felts to come to your church, women’s retreat, or banquet at Judy@JudyFelts.com, or 615-400-4789