November 2011 – Two-year-old Haley lost her battle to leukemia in 2004. But her brief life inspired a legacy that is ministering to countless cancer patients across the nation. Music artist Stanton Lanier was deeply moved by his friendship with Haley and her parents, who had played Lanier’s music at the little girl’s hospital bedside. Her valiant struggle inspired Lanier to write “Peace,” a piano composition in her memory.
“The night I got the phone call about her passing, God gave me the sense that Haley would have a lot to tell us about the amazing peace she was experiencing in heaven,” Lanier recalled. Soon thereafter, he found himself drawn to play at cancer centers, and then to donate his CDs to families who have lost children to cancer, a unique ministry he calls Give Music, Give Hope.
Lanier said, “As I began composing ‘Peace,’ John 14:27 – ‘Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you’ – was the verse I was meditating on. Haley’s story and life were composed into this instrumental melody that began our ministry’s reach to cancer and hospital patients.”
Pursue, surrender, obey
The peaceful mood he creates with his music today reflects experiences from his youth. “I remember climbing trees and working at a canoe rental place in Florida,” he told AFA Journal. “From the top of a tree or out on a creek by myself, I look back and see God developing that longing to hear His voice in quiet times.”
Even then, he was learning to pursue God as he grew in his faith in Christ. Having taken piano lessons for years, he still did not see music as his future. In fact, he majored in chemistry at Georgia Tech, and his first job was in a carpet mill. A few years down the road, after earning an MBA degree, he transitioned to a career in financial planning with Ron Blue and Company in 1995.
“I thought that was going to be my whole career,” he said. “[But] there was a nudge about investing in my music, so I bought a keyboard and, about six months later, a computer to be able to record in my basement.”
Full surrender rarely comes easy for a Christ follower, and that was true for Lanier. “I had moments of surrender,” he said. For example, at age 21, a machine broke in that Georgia carpet mill and, at 3:00 a.m., he was suddenly on his knees pulling up wet carpet. He remembers the incident vividly and cites it as one of those early moments of surrender.
“That began the process that took several more years to surrender my career life to Him,” he said. “Surrender took a while – it’s a lifelong pursuit to trust God fully with our lives.”
By 2000, Lanier was growing more and more willing to obey God. He had always enjoyed his music and song writing as a hobby, but now he sensed God moving him in new directions. He said, “It was becoming clear that, instead of writing songs like I had always done, that I would begin to compose instrumentals inspired by Scriptures.”
He continued to work as a financial planner until 2004, the year when Haley died and when Lanier established Music to Light the World as a non-profit, full-time ministry. He had already done three CDs. But still, going into this minisry full-time was a big step of faith.
“We’ve been living this kind of missionary journey financially,” he said. “It’s faith-stretching. It’s inspiring, but it can be hard at times.”
Hope, healing, witness
From the outset, MLW was to be a ministry. Lanier’s CDs are available for purchase, but for every CD sold, he gives one CD away – to a cancer victim, to a hospital, to a suffering family. “This year, during the Thanksgiving-Christmas season, we’re giving at least 10,000 CDs to children in 100 hospitals,” he said.
His latest CD, titled A Thousand Years, features his original compositions. December Peace, a seasonal CD, includes nine Christmas favorites arranged in his unique style plus six of his original compositions. “It’s definitely a Christmas album,” he said, “but I didn’t call it that because of the reach to non-Christians who might long for peace during the season. People are kind of open spiritually, and they’re searching, maybe hurting. Music is a real witness to draw them closer to Christ. It’s just a gift, a gift of hope and healing through beautiful music.”
To learn more about Music to Light the World or to help bring peace to your life and the families of cancer victims, call 404-643-1587 or visit www.stantonlanier.com. Scroll down and click on “CDs, MP3s.”