Introducing Jean Christen, The New COO for Influence Lab Women

Introducing Jean Christen, The New COO for Influence Lab Women

It’s our privilege to introduce the new Influence Lab Chief Operating Officer Jean Christen! Read below as Jean shares the life journey God has helped her walk, what compelled her to dive head-first into volunteering with The Influence Lab, and what’s next on the docket for mentorship programs, events and building the IN Lab community.

 

Kathleen Cooke: As the new COO of Influence Lab Women, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Jean Christen: I come from a long line of determined (stubborn) but forward-thinking women. My grandmother, a Buddhist, gave my mother the freedom to choose her faith. My mother chose Catholicism, and while she took my sister and me to mass every Sunday, she refrained from baptizing us as babies and passed on the gift of religious freedom.

Through my upbringing, I knew of a distant God, a “force” that was good. I felt He cared about me, but I never wanted to bother Him when there were more important people and more significant problems that needed His attention. With my background in Eastern religion, I was more open than most to the philosophies and practices of the New Age Movement. As a result, I not only adapted various beliefs and thoughts but propagated them. My father passed away while I was in college and the depression that visited me drove me deeper into an awareness of my spiritual emptiness. Having explored every major world religion, I finally decided to give Christianity a try. With no expectations or trust in its belief system, I said the Sinner’s Prayer with abandon because I didn’t think it would affect me. I was wrong. Not long after saying that prayer, I experienced physical manifestations and a spiritual attack, but along with this attack, I also had an insatiable hunger that only the Biblical Word could satisfy. I had been ‘born again.’

I was later ‘baptized in the Spirit’ at a Catholic retreat during my first experience with Taizé prayer. As we chanted, I began to recognize the depths of my unworthiness as the recipient of His love and grace, and I wept like I’ve never wept before in my life.

I met and married my college sweetheart, who was a believer at the time when I was not. He evidently was not blessed with the gift of evangelism but had an abundance of unconditional love for me (that’s a story for another time). God blessed us with six daughters and a home in Palos Verdes (CA).

Professionally, God led me into the business world. I was head of product development and global sourcing for Thomas Kinkade, “the famous Painter of Light” and a brother in Christ. I then went into the publishing world as the managing director of gifts and children’s books for Harvest House Publishers. I needed a break from the corporate world to take care of my family and unexpectedly found myself leading several community nonprofit boards. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt called to enter the media/entertainment business. I initially ran away from God’s leading and calling, like Jonah. But God kept bringing me back. Within a year, I found myself working with companies like Mandeville and the Gotham Group, producing projects with Emmy-winning producers, Oscar-nominated crews, and celebrated directors. I’ve since formed my own company, 8C Entertainment, to acquire and produce content that I would want to watch with Jesus.

Kathleen: Why have you gotten involved with The Influence Lab and Influence Lab Women?

Jean: As a new implant in entertainment, I actively sought spiritual encouragement, inspiration, and fellowship with other believers in the industry. After vetting several “Christian” organizations, I settled on following the Hollywood Prayer Network, where I learned about The Influence Lab. I attended a couple of webinars and wrote in after the one with producer Cindy Bond. She was so encouraging and inspiring, and I got so much out of that webinar that I decided I would give more than a donation. I wrote in and offered my time and talents, too. Two months later, I got a reply from you, Kathleen Cooke, the founder herself!

You graciously offered to meet for coffee, and our delightful meeting (God’s ordained meeting) lasted well past three hours and would have gone on for hours more had I not needed to pick up my kids from school. You asked me to be the COO (Chief Operating Officer) for Influence Lab Women on the spot. I think you saw that I was a little taken aback because you said, “Jean, there have been a few times in my life where I feel God tap me on the shoulder, and this is one of them.” You didn’t know this then, but one of my life Scriptures is “judge the tree by the fruit that it bears.” As I considered that scripture in my head, your request, and the decades of good fruit you and Phil have produced in ministry, I felt a peace that was not humanly possible given my daily “to-do” list. I knew I had to come alongside you like Aaron did for Moses and hold up your arms as you lead. So, I immediately said yes. That was the Monday before my first in-person Influence Lab Women event on Friday, April 29, 2022. It’s only been a couple of months, but we have already put together exciting new programs and initiatives that I cannot wait to roll out to our Influence Lab family!

 Kathleen: I am over the moon blessed with you saying yes, too! You have been such a gift and an answer to my prayer that God would bring me my “Aaron and Hur” to hold up my arms and enable me to fight the cultural battles “for such a time as this.” Moses needed a priestly hand – that was Aaron (who is also represented by Jesus in our lives), and He needed an administrative/business hand that was Hur.

I find it so beautiful and encouraging that God somehow always inserts women into the stories in the Bible. Hur is said to have been the son of Miriam, the sister to Moses and Aaron. Women wouldn’t have been allowed on the battlefields then, so I believe God sent a woman representative – her son.

So, what’s happening and coming up that you have been working on for The Influence Lab and Influence Lab Women?

Jean: Oh, my goodness, so many good things! I want first to thank everyone who took the time out of their day to complete and turn in the Member Survey. It’s because of their input that we’re finalizing our mentorship/ life coaching program; setting up personal prayer partners with our ministry partner, the Hollywood Prayer Network; selecting teachers for a 6-week Bible study program; and changing up our Friday night in-person events to Saturday brunches to give ourselves more time for fellowship and networking. The master calendar with webinars and in-person events for our Hollywood and Atlanta (soon Nashville) Chapter groups will be posted shortly.
Attention Readers: be sure to save the dates and check in regularly for updates and exciting new events! By the way, we are extending the survey collection window for those who want to share their thoughts and ideas and haven’t yet.

 

If you haven’t filled out our survey yet, click here to answer a few quick questions!

Have a heart for arts and entertainment, media and leadership? Let us know if you would like to get involved with The Influence Lab! We are expanding our reach and we have new roles and leadership opportunities waiting for your unique talents. The best part of volunteering is getting to serve with other like-minded women. We need to hold up each other’s arms in the challenging careers and culture we’re engaged in. I am beyond excited to uplift and build up our Influence Lab community TOGETHER!

 

 

The Maddening Truth

The Maddening Truth

“While we were still under arrest, my father, out of love for me, was trying to persuade me and shake my resolution. ‘Father,’ said I, ‘do you see this vase here, for example, or waterpot or whatever?’

‘Yes, I do,’ said he.

And I told him: ‘Could it be called by any other name than what it is?’

And he said: ‘No.’

‘Well, so too I cannot be called anything other than what I am, a Christian.’

At this, my father was so angered by the word ‘Christian’ that he moved towards me as though he would pluck my eyes out. But he left it at that and departed, vanquished along with his diabolical arguments.” 

Account from a prison diary of Perpetua and Felicitas martyred in Carthage in 202/203 B.C.

 

Perpetua, along with her infant son and maid, friend and fellow believer, Felicitas, were unmercifully starved and brutally tortured. She was given one last chance to recant her faith before being thrown into the Roman gladiator arena. Wild animals were released into the arena to kill the prisoners, but when the animals were unsuccessful in their task, the huge crowd became bored and chanted for blood. Prompted by the mob, the gladiators entered the arena with their swords drawn. As they approached, Perpetua guided a gladiator’s sword to her throat in a final act of willingness to die for her faith in Jesus.

Reading Perpetua and Felicitas’ story of martyrdom reminds us that we’re called to a high purpose and one that will include sacrifice, suffering, and even perhaps death. We are called to embody the life of a follower of Jesus, not just embrace Christianity in name only. As world and cultural views change, “The Truth” –God’s presence and His Word– aggravates those who resist it, and evil grows more robust. I am convinced we will see and experience more suffering and martyrdom. It’s predicted in the Bible. The godless will continue to be relentless and attempt to fast-track their beliefs into every aspect of our lives to increasing degrees. Choosing The Truth and His truths will become steadily more difficult.

This is not “breaking news.”

Just as air slowly leaks out of a tire due to a small nail puncture and is initially undetected by the human eye, so too are we seeing the deflation of God’s truths on the earth and in the lives of people. Our world is losing the Breath of Life. Evil is increasing and is creating an irreparable path of destruction. It’s not difficult to see the enormous effects of our culture’s brokenness and sinful choices.

Are you ready for what’s coming? Is God dead?

In 1882, well-known atheist Friedrich Nietzsche cynically wrote The Parable of the Madman, in which the Madman makes a profound statement: “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him – you and I.  All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this?”

It’s still a relevant question today. How did we get so off-course and deceived from The Truth? It’s one thing to disagree with a truth and another to disagree that there is A Truth. We know the very existence of planet earth depends on the sun’s gravitational pull (it’s a proven scientific truth). If we lose the sun’s connection, the planet will instantly go spinning out of control ending all life on earth. Our connection to the sun is foundational and nonnegotiable.

When we lose the foundational truth of who God is in our life, we too spin out of control.

That is precisely what is happening in our culture today. Award-winning author Eric Metaxas interviewed documentary filmmaker Matt Walsh on his recent feature film, What is a Woman?. They discussed the incredible inability of those pushing for a gender-neutral world to define one simple term: Woman. Those who were supposed to know –scholars, doctors, and even other women– could not define who or what a woman was. Matt Walsh (very comically, I might add) was able to show that those pushing for this agenda had to deny the foundational scriptural truth that God created us “male and female.” Genesis 1:27

There is no confusion or gender dysphoria in God’s eyes. When you accept foundational Biblical truths, you are anchored (like the earth to the sun) in God’s unchanging gravity. When you’re not fastened to truth, you are left spinning out of control, lost in complete confusion. And you in turn cause irreversible damage to others, as Abigail Shrier writes about in her book of the same name. Perpetua and Felicitas stood in the gladiator arena, anchored to truth despite the atrocities happening around them and to them. They refused to recant the one thing they knew to be true. In the same way, our grounding foundational truths are and will always be in God and His son, Jesus.

Will you stand on The Truth, or will you deny Him?

 

 

An INNER VIEW with Destiny Rambo Khouri

An INNER VIEW with Destiny Rambo Khouri

Do you believe your unique voice can impact others? Does your silence or inability to embrace yourself leave a void that God created you to fill? Read this week’s INNER VIEW as Destiny Rambo Khouri shares her personal journey of a stifled voice turned powerful truth-teller.

BIO
Destiny Rambo Khouri is a sought after singer, worship leader, writer, artist, session vocalist, actress, teacher, and choreographer. She’s had a vibrant heritage of music and ministry. Her grandparents, Buck and Dottie Rambo, were pioneers in the Southern Gospel movement, and her parents, Dony McGuire and Reba Rambo were trendsetters in contemporary Christian music. All have received multiple Grammy and Dove Awards.

Destiny began traveling and singing with her parents as a child, but her work extends outside the gospel music realm and into theater. She has performed in dozens of productions and has sung on several original cast albums for Disney Theatrical, Sight And Sound Theater, and many others. Destiny has performed in multiple languages, including a project sung in Mandarin for Sea World Beijing.

In 2012, Destiny and her family’s group, Rambo McGuire, were privileged to win the Dove Award for bluegrass album of the year. In 2013, she released her highly anticipated solo album, Journal of a Songstress, and in 2020, she released a Christmas EP titled Oh Night Divine that was featured in the top 10 lists on iTunes and Amazon Music. Her most recent release was a single entitled Calvary Will Never Run Out Of Songs. She is also the writer and host of her weekly podcast and video series Divine Musing With Destiny Rambo Khouri.

In 2018, Destiny married Joel Khouri, a producer, composer, and writer with hundreds of recording credits. Together they create music and art in exciting and out-of-the-box ways. They are the founders of The Rambo Family Gospel Hour, a quarterly music and ministry event live-streamed worldwide. Destiny and Joel live in Charlotte, North Carolina with their sweet puppy, Nora.

 

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke: A career in the music industry is often daunting. What has God taught you recently that keeps you going?

Destiny Rambo Khouri: God has been teaching me the power of using your voice. I grew up in a household of singers and naturally stepped into that role. I loved to sing but also knew I had a testimony to share. As a young girl, I survived multiple sexual assaults and physical abuse. I felt such a pull to share my story in a way that could be a lifeline for others. At that time though, there was such an atmosphere of suppression and secrecy surrounding trauma. Therapy was almost a curse word, and the overall narrative was to “walk by faith” by keeping the darkness you struggled with to yourself.

I felt like the Lord was calling me to begin a weekly series that would be a safe place to discuss faith, trauma, art, and story. I was young and excited and started to tell people I respected my idea, thinking they would be supportive. Instead, I met one shutdown after another. They said to me that no one wanted to hear me talk. That I was a singer and just needed to stick to that. They also strongly discouraged my testimony, like it was going to reflect poorly on my family’s ministry. I was crushed and sadly believed them. I continued to sing but kept my story to myself.

In the last couple of years, Divine has done profound work to remove the shackles from my tongue. In February, I launched “Divine Musing With Destiny Rambo Khouri.” Each episode focuses on a singular topic and the growth journey it’s led me on. I have been blown away by the response in such a short time! I realize now more than ever that people want something real.

Your voice is one of the greatest gifts Divine has given you, and you shouldn’t be afraid to use it! Scripture says that we are overcome by the blood of the Lamb AND by the word of our testimony. Your story might be the hope someone needs to believe that survival, healing, and restoration are possible!

Kathleen: Wow, Destiny! Thanks for being brave and sharing that. What would you say to someone in a dark place right now who needs hope?

Destiny: In the craziness of life today, it is easy to get drained. The expectations we all have weighing on us every day can get so heavy that before we know it, we are being crushed beneath them. Finding time to center my thoughts, spirit, soul, and body is not only important; it’s vital. How can I give of myself when I’m running on empty?

When I feel myself beginning to be depleted, I have found a few things that help me recharge. The first thing is a hot bath. There is something about soaking for a bit that allows me to wind down my mind and re-center my body. Sometimes I soak in silence; other times, I will listen to an encouraging podcast, or I’ll put on calming music. I am particularly fond of pianists like Dustin O’Halloran and Chad Lawson.

I am also an avid reader. When I seek the comfort of scripture, as opposed to studying, I love “The Message” translation. It reads like poetry and is so soothing. I regularly revisit the Psalms, The Gospels, and my favorite of Paul’s writings, Colossians. I love all kinds of books, but especially those that play with my imagination. My go-to author is Madeleine L’Engle because even her works of fiction shed light on spiritual principles. Another way I like to feel inspired is by watching nature or historical documentaries. Taking in the beauty of God’s creation or learning about where we come from gives me so much hope.

And last but certainly not least, I find so much inspiration in our garden. My husband Joel and I plant lots of vegetables and herbs every year, and it’s a beautiful way to connect with Divine and with each other. There’s nothing like getting your hands dirty to help remind yourself of life’s simple wonders.

Kathleen: Finding peace and contentment is what we long for, but is hard to attain. What has God taught you about overcoming our culture that’s constantly telling us we aren’t enough?

Destiny: Everywhere we turn nowadays, advertisements tell us what we need or who we need to be. The pressure to buy into those things is dangerously heavy. That pressure is fed by comparison. We see the life people present on social media and covet their seemingly perfect existence and then spiral into mourning that we will never have what they have. The world around us has almost become a “funhouse” full of warped mirrors that cause us to see ourselves as anything but “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I have struggled my whole life with insecurities about my weight, talent, and what I have to offer the world. The mirror of comparison is unrelenting as it fights to destroy me.

 A couple of years ago, I had just taken a shower, looked at myself in the mirror, and began beating myself up over every flaw I saw. The added pounds, the imperfections, and the fact I look very different from most women in ministry, covered in tattoos and scars. I went at it for a while until I erupted in tears. In the midst of my breakdown, I heard the voice of Divine so sweetly say to me, “I looked into the whole world and saw that something was missing, and I created you to fill that void.” Wow! How could I continue to beat myself up after that! Am I perfect? No way! But Divine didn’t create me to be perfect. He created me to be that missing piece! Look, I’m a woman, so naturally, those struggles still come up from time to time, but I have learned how to silence those negative thoughts by reminding myself who He made me to be!

Kathleen: The Bible tells us to be a “sweet aroma” – in our language today, “influencer” comes to mind. How can we bring the fragrance of Jesus into our work and life? 

Destiny: One of my absolute favorite scriptures is 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, “But thank God! He has made us His captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume (aroma). Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.”

Jesus was the perfect example of what a life of influence should be. Even though He was born into humanity, He carried the atmosphere of Heaven with Him. That atmosphere radiated from His pores and impacted the lives of all who came into contact with Him. As believers who are alive to the reality of Christ in us, we have that same ability! We are the light that radiates His light. We are the beacon that pierces through the fog and lights the way home. We are the perpetual fragrance of Christ that should smell so delicious that lost and hurting people can’t help but be curious. Jesus met people where they were without judgment or condemnation and, through His perfect love, transformed them. I believe it is our responsibility to do the same. To me, influence means reaching people no matter where they are, what they’ve done, or where they’ve been. Only through the love of Jesus have we made it this far. The more we are willing to share that love, the greater the chance we then have to be a witness to the world. My greatest prayer surrounding the spaces I have been privileged to “influence” is that those sweet people walk away from our encounter feeling seen, known, loved, and always enough!

 

Connect with Destiny:

Website: www.rambokhouri.com
YouTube: RamboKhouri
Facebook: Destiny Rambo Khouri
Instagram & Twitter: DesRamboMusic
New weekly episodes of “Divine Musing With Destiny Rambo Khouri” are available on Mondays on YouTube and most major podcast platforms.
Music by Destiny Rambo Khouri is available in all digital stores.

Launching Out Into the Deep

Launching Out Into the Deep

This week we launch a new Influence Lab Women chapter in Atlanta. As we embark on this new adventure starting June 10th, I was reminded of Jesus as He told His future disciples to throw their nets to the “other side of the boat”. They had been fishing all night and had not caught one fish because they were casting their nets to the wrong side of the boat. Jesus wanted them to learn how to cast their nets in the right direction, and in partnership with Him.

We often miss opportunities because we keep throwing our nets out to the same place, where most fish aren’t swimming anymore. When talking about Hollywood, most outsiders think that you have to live here or in New York to make it in the industry as a professional. This might have been true in the past, but not today. These past hubs of media and entertainment and the arts have spread to many new and thriving media cities. Many longtime Hollywood professionals are moving out and into these new cities – Atlanta being one. Seeing this change has stirred my heart and I am thrilled that The Influence Lab is casting its net outside of California.

As a Christian industry professional for over 30 years, I have worked and supported many different Christian ministries and groups in Hollywood. I moved to Hollywood in the 1990s when most Christians were “in the closet” with their faith. We were an unwelcome remnant of believers. But we were called to make a difference and see lives changed by bringing God’s love to those working in the business. Over the years, I have seen the few grow to be hundreds, and now even thousands of believers in Hollywood. Today, I am seeing more top celebrities affirming their faith and it’s exciting. Those of us who committed our lives to not only our industry careers, but to the lives of others, grew stronger in the ability to “defend our faith”, as the Bible calls us to do. When COVID-19 shut down Hollywood production, the Christians ramped up and ran into the storm by producing and creating more content than even secular media and entertainment at one point.

But now Hollywood Christians are moving out. We have seen a vast migration out of California and across the U.S. in the past few years, which ultimately opened the door to launch The Influence Lab Women chapter in Atlanta. We are joining other Hollywood ministries that have also launched chapters in Atlanta—like our friends at The Hollywood Prayer Network and Master Media, both of which I have served and supported for many years. The Hollywood Christian remnant community is launching into deeper waters. They are bringing the light of Jesus to production sets and offices throughout the U.S. I invite you to pray for us and God’s remnant in the industry, support the work of The Influence Lab, and join us in-person at our upcoming events!

 

Cast your net with us on the other side of the boat!

If you are in the Atlanta area, join us for Influence Lab Atlanta Women on June 10th!

Register!