By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
BALTIMORE, Md.—WPOC morning disc jockey, Laurie DeYoung, relaxed with Johnny Cash at Rocky Gap State Park. She joked about labor pains with June Carter Cash. She found Lyle Lovett fascinating, Willie Nelson charming, but it’s her relationship with Jesus that’s sustained her through the years.
The headliner of the Laurie DeYoung Morning Show, DeYoung is a local celebrity with second-generation listeners. She’s been at the station 26 years.
She grew up as a minister’s daughter in Grand Rapids, Mi. She began her radio career as a disc jockey at a rock and roll station and went on to work at a total of nine stations. She moved to San Diego to take a “gig,” but the company was restructuring and DeYoung was left without a job. She began looking for work, telling friends she’d do anything but country.
She got a call from a disc jockey friend, Rocky Marlowe, who took a position in Baltimore and wanted her to come join him. It was a country station.
“I guess that was God’s sense of humor,” DeYoung said with a big smile.
Marlowe stayed for two years, then DeYoung has been on her own since.
God had a plan. “It really suited me well,” DeYoung said. “It fit my world view, the way I look at things,” she said.
DeYoung grew up in a very conservative Christian home. Every week she was at church for worship, Sunday School, prayer meetings and Pioneer Girl meetings. Her mother prayed with her as the 12-year-old DeYoung prayed asking Christ to come into her life.
Looking back, DeYoung said that while she was sincere, the prayer was primarily based on the fear of hell.
“I was a scared little girl,” she admitted. As the years went by, DeYoung said she has just continued “working out her salvation,” admitting to plenty of questions, but through her life she’s sensed God’s presence, known His love for her, and depends on His grace.
DeYoung likes how country music boldly embraces faith, referring to songs like, “God Bless the Broken Road,” and “Red Dirt Road.” In “Red Dirt Road,” the lyrics refer to an old country road where the singer has his first beer, and where it’s also the place where he “found Jesus.”
“It’s real. It’s messy,” she said.
DeYoung will be a guest speaker, along with Erika Clark, who ministers to sex trafficking victims, at a women’s conference at Oak Grove Baptist Church on Mar. 31. The topic is “When Love Takes You In.”
“How do we udnderstand the way God loves us? I’ve been a believer a long time and I still don’t get that piece. I hit my head against the wall on that,” she said. The only way DeYoung says she can try to understand it in the context of a story. As a disc jockey, she has interviewed hundreds of country stars through the years in search of their stories. She’s discovered that everyone has story.
“They might not think they have one, but they do,” she said. The problem, DeYoung continued, is that we judge people based on a snippet of that story. “We meet someone, size them up and stick them in a ‘bucket,” she said. “But that’s not all they are. Jesus knows the entire story.”
DeYoung said she has seen God’s hand frequently in her own story. She experienced the peace that passes all understanding when her father lived with her while struggling with and eventually succumbing to cancer. She saw it when two young women lived with her family for a brief time. One was a Buddhist and the other a Christian. Through acceptance and love, the Buddhist girl eventually gave her life to Christ.
“We have the power to love as Christ loves…to love beyond ourselves,” she said. “People are looking for hope. I know I am.”
DeYoung and her husband, Ed, serve at Grace Fellowship Church in Timonium. Ed is a minister of music and Laurie helps lead worship and teaches women’s studies. The couple has three grown children.