Christina Tucker, otherwise known as ChrissyT, is a singer-songwriter and head of creative missions for The Message Trust in Cape Town, South Africa. She has witnessed God transform young people’s sense of identity and belonging…starting with her own
“My message isn’t me, my message is Jesus,” Chrissy shares with conviction and humility. For most of her adult life she’s served with the Message Trust, which describes itself as “a worldwide movement passionately sharing the love of Jesus Christ in words and actions with the hardest-to-reach young people and communities”. The former Twelve24 band member is accustomed to being on the stage and having all eyes on her, but is passionate about doing everything she can to point young people to the transformational love of Jesus.
Trying to fit in
“Identity was a massive thing for me during my teenage years,” Chrissy shares. Having spent most of her childhood in Ghana, surrounded by family and cocooned by acceptance, the experience of moving to the UK aged 14 and starting a new secondary school halfway through the academic year was jarring. “Year nine is a tough year for most teenagers, as they figure out how to fit in. I was dealing with this, alongside culture shock and generally feeling like an outcast.”
‘There are a lot of heartbroken young women and girls. I feel God calling me to stand with them’
Chrissy’s mission became clear: to fit in, at all costs. She removed her braids, worked on her British accent and went out drinking. “My message was ‘me’ for a long time, just trying to fit in and project myself into the world.”
Despite growing up going to church in Ghana, it wasn’t until Chrissy’s sister, Dora, became a Christian that she began to wonder whether there was something more to it. “My sister could hang out with anyone and yet still be herself. I was jealous of the relationship she had with Jesus. I wanted my identity to be so secure that I could be truly me.” So, in 2002 aged 19, Chrissy agreed to go to church with her sister and found herself responding to an altar call to accept Jesus. “This was the beginning of everything changing. It took a while for me to fully commit, but after two years I was all in.”
“I wasn’t prepared for how much God would transform my life. I knew I was making a hard decision in following him, but I thought hard would mean boring when in reality the journey’s been wild! I remember when I was at university in London, but had a part time job in Milton Keynes, and I was waiting for my bus after a work shift…I was watching a group of teenagers at a bus stop and I found my heart breaking for them. I remember saying: “Lord, I would love to be able to impact young people.” But, despite this heartfelt prayer, when university finished and Chrissy’s sister-in-law suggested she joined Genetik (The Message Trust’s youthwork and evangelism training programme) she felt unexpectedly resistant. She eventually agreed to go to a three-day youth event at Hyde Park in Manchester; just three days, no big commitment.
But three days changed her heart. “The World Wide Message Tribe came on the stage and I was like: ‘What is this! You can be Christian and do this?!’ I turned my face upward and simply said: ‘Lord, I would love to do this.’”
Chrissy felt compelled to join Genetik, now named The Message Academy in Manchester, and experienced God bringing to life her whispered prayers. By the end of the year, she was part of a newly formed Message Trust band called Twelve24, working in Manchester schools, and then touring the country and later, Europe, USA and South Africa, impacting young people with messages of truth and acceptance. This was her ministry for the next nine years.
“I was going back into schools, but seeing things from a different perspective,” Chrissy reflects. “All these vulnerable teenage girls with no sense of self-worth, using make-up as a shield and hiding from the world. They would look at me, singing on stage and say things like: ‘Wow you’re so amazing!’ I loved the opportunity to share my testimony, to tell them that they are amazing, and that I’d been just as lost, but Jesus changed everything.
“There was one time when we were playing at a school assembly and there was a girl listening who had been self-harming. In the assembly she prayed and that day changed everything for her, as she decided enough was enough. She listened to one of our songs on repeat and joined our afterschool creative arts programme, Genetik Sessions. She went on to start a Twitter page called ‘no more self-harming’, which over the years helped many who were struggling with what she had been through. She has since been to university and is now travelling the world. She even performed with us on stage at the Apollo once!”
Twelve24 was clearly having significant impact, and there was talk of becoming a signed band, independent from The Message Trust, and touring further afield. But despite this being such a longed-for dream, Chrissy felt God tugging her in a different direction. Her ministry involved seeing young people from the stage, snatching conversations and interactions with them after performances or at school clubs. She wanted to walk more closely with them, to be face-to-face rather than at a distance. In October 2015 she made the decision to leave Twelve24 and follow God’s call to work with The Message Trust in South Africa.
It was in South Africa that God brought a man into Chrissy’s life. “I came to scout out the land in 2016, and I remember having an interview with my now husband, Tim, who was then CEO of The Message, South Africa and another exec member. Tim was actually married at the time. I met his wife then, and we had this beautiful conversation about how their daughter loved music. They asked me to mentor her when I moved. But in August 2016, Chrissy heard that his wife had passed away. “I was totally heartbroken by the news.”
In January 2017 Chrissy moved to Cape Town. “I messaged Tim, to tell him that I’d landed because obviously, he’s my boss, but also, I said to him: ‘Do you still want me to mentor your daughter?’ He said, ‘Yes, please.’ So I would go to the house, to hang out with her.”
I wanted my identity to be so secure that I could be truly me
Tim had created three rules. He wasn’t going to keep alcohol in the house. He wasn’t going to watch TV, apart from sport. And he wasn’t going to be around anyone that was single. So Chrissy would go to the house, and then he would leave. “I would pick all three kids up from school, drop them off at home, hang out with them, in particular our eldest daughter, and then he would arrive and I’d go.”
Eventually, because they saw each other at work as well, they started having conversations that turned into quick lunches together. “Our friendship started to grow like that. I had a moment where I was at the house. I looked at him, and I thought: ‘Oh my gosh, he’s really good looking.’ I remember calling one of my close friends saying: ‘I think I like my boss!’”
In April 2017, Tim asked to speak with Chrissy. “I thought that he was going to say to me: ‘You need to leave, because I’m a grieving man.’ After talking for ages, eventually, he said: ‘I really like you. I would like to start a relationship with you.’ I was completely shocked, because I didn’t prepare for that.
“He said: ‘Would you please give me permission to pursue you?’ Now, this is so significant because for about three or four years, I’ve been on a journey with the Holy Spirit about being pursued as a woman of God. I felt God say to me: ‘The person that you marry is to pursue you like I pursue you.’ So I knew in that moment that this guy was my husband.”
Tim and Chrissy got married in 2018. “I inherited three love babies, as I call them, aged 10, 13 and 15 at the time.” They now also have a three-year-old daughter together.
BLOOM is born
Chrissy has been working in Cape Town for six years and, amid the myriad of ministries taking place, finds herself most drawn to young women. “There are a lot of heartbroken young women and girls. I feel God calling me to stand with them.”
In 2021, Chrissy and a friend, Naomi, established BLOOM, a yearly conference where young women and girls can be discipled and encouraged. “BLOOM gives us a platform to reach young women with the truth of who they are in Jesus. It’s an opportunity for them to be the VIP. We’re there to serve them; to sit among them.”
In faith, Chrissy committed to face-to-face ministry, walking alongside young women to see transformation. Singing and songwriting took second place, until 2019 when God inspired her first solo album. “‘Even Though’ was the first song I wrote,” Chrissy shares. “It’s my heart’s cry. I’ve been doing this creative ministry for such a long time and I’ve seen so much change, but there is still so much brokenness.” Chrissy has witnessed God’s goodness and breakthrough in her own life and refuses to give up hope.
Find out more about The Message Trust at message.org.za
Chrissy’s new EP will be released in February: you can follow her on @chrissytmusic