When Surrender is Gain

COVID-19 swept the globe at a threatening rate. A pandemic was declared, and we were plunged into a period of lockdowns, closures, restrictions, and the unknown. But in Saint-Georges, Que., a lovely voice pushed back against the uncertainty.

Features April 17, 2024

By Heather Grbic

When Surrender is Gain – March 2024 Canadian Adventist Messenger – Cover Stories

COVID-19 swept the globe at a threatening rate. A pandemic was declared, and we were plunged into a period of lockdowns, closures, restrictions, and the unknown.But in Saint-Georges, Que., a lovely voice pushed back against the uncertainty.
  1. When Surrender is Gain – March 2024
  2. The Messengers and The Media – February 2024
  3. The Media and The Message – January 2024
  4. For the Sake of God's Mission – December 2023
  5. Be Fair, Defend, and Rescue – November 2023

They were strange, alarming times. COVID-19 swept the globe at a threatening rate. A pandemic was declared, and we were plunged into a period of lockdowns, closures, restrictions, and the unknown.

            But in Saint-Georges, Que., a lovely voice pushed back against the uncertainty. From her home, young Audréanne Cloutier surrendered her gift of music to God, so He could use it to bless others. She began a project of recording hymns with her piano. These were originally intended to be shared with her home church, a few local churches, and friends during the pandemic. But she never imagined how God would grow her simple project into something that would reach others around the world.

            At 19, Audréanne makes an impression. She is a well-spoken woman with humble confidence and a generous heart. Her love for God and serving others is inspiring.

            One of Audréanne’s unique ways of serving is through her music. She has always been musical. With a laugh, she talked about how when she was as young as two, she would try to find the rhythm of songs and sing along.

            “I started taking piano lessons at about eight years old,” shared Audréanne. “At first, I didn’t like it that much. But I started really loving piano when I started playing by ear. I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. I started being able to play by ear with chords that I learned myself.”

The freedom of playing by ear opened a new world of possibilities for Audréanne. “That’s when I started playing hymns. Before, hymns were way too difficult for me. But with chords and by ear, it became possible.”

            By 14, Audréanne was playing piano for her church, the Saint-Georges Seventh-day Adventist Church. When the pandemic hit, she found a way to continue ministering musically for online services.

            “I just started recording hymns on the piano so it would help these churches. I would record the piano and make a video with the lyrics for the hymns and share them with the churches to use these videos in place of a pianist. I also recorded the same thing but added my voice so people could follow and learn the songs if they didn’t know them. That’s how it started. Churches that did services on Zoom, especially, would use the video, and everyone could sing at home with their microphones off and just follow along.”

            One day Audréanne was struck with inspiration.

“I thought, ‘Since I’m making videos, why not make them public?’” Up to this point, Audréanne had shared the songs directly with the churches and friends. “If others find them and use them, then that’s good. My goal was to produce music for French-speaking people because there’s nothing available on the internet. You search for a [Christian] song in English, and you’ll find tons of versions of it. You search the song in French and there’s almost nothing. I thought this can’t stay like that! We need to have more content in French.”

Audréanne began her YouTube channel. Visitors are greeted with this message: “This channel’s goal is to present Jesus through music. Whether it’s through hymns, scripture songs, or any other song, and whether it’s in French, English, or Spanish, the purpose remains the same. May every listener be blessed! Audréanne is a 19-year-old girl who loves serving the Lord with her whole heart. Her desire through this channel is to publish beautiful Christian music in French especially.”

Over time, Audréanne’s number of subscribers to her channel steadily grew.

“I did not expect anything big. But my younger brother, Xavier, was so encouraging. At first, I had a few subscribers—my close friends and a few people from the church. But after a little while, I started having more and more subscribers. My brother was telling me, ‘You’re going to reach 1,000 subscribers for sure.’ When it happened, I was really surprised! How do 1,000 people want to listen to what I’m doing? It’s not that good, and it’s not that important. But as time passed, I realized there were more than 1,000 people who wanted to listen. Currently, right now, I’m at 6,000 subscribers! It really has grown more than I imagined.”

A long, long time ago, another young person also surrendered his talents to God’s purposes. Young David sang on his harp while watching his father’s flock. Like Audréanne, David’s music was something personal for a small few. But God had a higher calling for the gifts He gave David, as He undoubtedly does for Audréanne’s talents. God took David’s music from the fields to the king’s court. Similarly, He is growing Audréanne’s ministry from a local few to a global community.

Most of these viewers are not even in Canada but hail from other countries in the francophone world. From France, Switzerland, various countries in Africa, and elsewhere, viewers tune in to Audréanne’s channel and her beautiful renditions of beloved French hymns.

“I never imagined that it would get this big,” Audréanne said with amazement. “People from other countries can enjoy these hymns because they don’t have anything else available on the internet. So, anything they can find they just jump on it, and they’re thankful for it. For me, it’s a blessing that people can be touched by this music.

“Many people comment to say thank you, and they use it in their church – which was my goal at first. But they also use it for their family worship. Other times they say they use it for their personal devotions, or they just listen and sing along while they’re praying. Many people have said that they use it in different situations. I am grateful that they benefit from this in different contexts.”

Scrolling through the videos and their comments, you get an idea of just how much this ministry means to those who listen.

“I am moved,” one viewer commented. “May God be praised for your tireless efforts.”

“Thank you, you help us during our evening prayers,” shared another viewer.

After watching one of her hymns, one viewer wrote, “Beautiful close to the Sabbath. May everyone be blessed.”

Some viewers discovered her channel during a challenging time and found comfort and renewed confidence in God from the lyrics and music.

“This song gives me hope,” one viewer confided.

“Thank you for this beautiful hymn that is particularly dear to me,” another viewer commented. “It helps me through difficult moments. I just found this version. Be blessed.”

“Thank you, a beautiful reminder to hold on to faith during this health crisis,” wrote a viewer.

            Audréanne began this project over three years ago. She set a goal of publishing at least one new hymn every Friday night, in time for the start of Sabbath.

“At one point I would publish two videos per week. That was a really busy time for my channel! I don’t know how I did it. I think because I was still in high school, it wasn’t as busy a time.”

 Even as her life is busier now with classes, exams, and other projects, she still tries to find ways to maintain her schedule. During breaks from school, she pre-records as many hymns as she can, then schedules them to release weekly.

But hymns are not all Audréanne shares on her channel. Around the time that she was experimenting with at-home recording equipment such as mics and sound editing software, her brother Xavier was studying videography. They decided to blend their two skills to create stunning music videos.

Audréanne explained, “A few months after starting the hymns, I started to do music videos—just cover songs, songs that I liked, songs that people asked for. My brother, Xavier, filmed them. My brother has filmed and edited each of my music videos.”

            In the beginning, filming the music videos was a full family affair.

            Audréanne spoke warmly of that time. “When I started, I didn’t have my driver’s license. So my parents would come with [Xavier and me], and my younger sister, Laurie, would come. I have really good memories of the whole family being together. I would sing, my brother would film, and my sister and parents watched. And often they would be freezing in the snow—it was really, really cold. You can’t see them in the video,” she laughed, “but behind him, my parents and sister were running around in the snow trying to keep warm!”

            Even though she is more independent now, Audréanne still has the support of her loving family.

She continues to make music videos, with Xavier as the videographer and editor. Sometimes, she collaborates with Laurie or friends. Even viewers who cannot speak French can enjoy the videos’ beauty.

            Looking ahead, Audréanne plans to continue her music ministry.

            “I think it can’t really stop, honestly,” she said, with energy. “I started this and it’s hard for me to stop. But with life, situations change. We use our time differently. But I still do want to continue doing this. I haven’t considered stopping. I just hope that what I’m doing can keep helping other people and other churches. I hope people can keep enjoying [what’s on my channel]. And I’ll just do my best to do what the Lord calls me to do.”

            Audréanne shared, “I hope this can encourage people to do what they like and to find their place in church. I think there’s a place for everyone. And no matter how young or old, there’s a place for everyone. I just want to encourage people to do what they like and to find their place.”   

Her words are reminiscent of Peter’s: “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. … Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 4:10, 11, NLT).

            Perhaps we like to do something for a reason. Our God-given gifts are for God-given reasons. By developing our gifts and surrendering them to Him, we may discover a purpose we didn’t expect! David surely did not expect that his music, or at least his lyrics, would endure for thousands of years, bringing solace, inspiration, and joy to countless generations.

            Audréanne did not expect her music to touch hearts around the world. Who knows how far it will go? Only God does. What is certain is that the surrender of her talents to God is not in vain. He is already blessing many through her.             There are so many things in God’s kingdom that seem upside-down to what we understand on earth. And this is one of them: with God, to surrender is to gain, and even to gain much more than you could ever imagine.