The video-sharing app, which launched in the U.S. in 2018, became a force in 2020 when millions of users were swayed to try new dance moves and bake bread while staying indoors. But for the 37-year-old, she wanted to inspire others who were feeling alone and hopeless.
“I decided to post these quick, 60-second prayers for people to offer them hope, the same hope that was given to me during the darkest moments of my life,” the Austin-based wife and mother of a teenage son told Fox News Digital. “I just wanted the message to get to one person. But to my surprise, each video started going viral. It still hasn’t stopped.”
“I was not a social media person,” she shared. “I certainly didn’t see myself as an influencer. But people were having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. People were losing their businesses and their loved ones. We were facing a great crisis. But God doesn’t need a lifetime to make a difference. There was a lot of discouragement out there. And I wanted to offer hope.”
Baker currently has 1 million followers on TikTok and 60,400 on Instagram. Nearly 800,000 followers flock to her TikTok account each day for her one-minute prayer videos, which have racked up more than 9.7 million likes. She recently wrote a book that chronicles her unlikely rise to stardom titled “Hope in 60 Seconds: Encountering the God of the Impossible.” In it, Baker details how she faced dark times long before 2020.
“I went through homelessness at age 15,” she explained. “I was living in a tent on the beach with my dad. I went through drug addiction, a downward spiral into drugs. I faced death and tragedy like so many people. I never thought I could quit drinking. I got arrested and taken to jail for drug possession. But I believe there’s something inside every heart that just wants hope.”
According to Baker, her parents divorced when she was just 7. The split affected her so greatly that she later began self-harming. Baker alleged she also suffered abuse from her stepfather.
“I was cutting myself because I was masking the pain of what I had gone through,” Baker explained. “I was acting out and my mom didn’t know how to deal with it. My stepdad certainly didn’t want to deal with it. I came home one night from a party and he was standing at the top of the stairs… He tells me, ‘You gotta go.’ They put me on a plane from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to Maui, Hawaii, where they believed my dad was.”
“I hadn’t seen my dad in almost 10 years,” she shared. “I show up at the airport with an electric guitar on my back and a black duffle bag with my entire life in it. Six hours went by and my dad shows up. I got in his truck and he just looks at me. He tells me, ‘I need to tell you something – I’m homeless.’”
Baker said that at 15, she was homeless, living in a tent on a beach in Hawaii with her father. During the day, she would go to internet cafés and send emails to relatives informing them of her situation. At 16, she moved to Houston, where she had aunts and uncles. But Baker said they were unsure of how to watch over the troubled teen.
Her brother, who was on an athletic scholarship in Pennsylvania, offered to help. She then found herself on another flight, this one to Pennsylvania, where she stayed at a Red Roof motel near his dorm. Her sibling’s basketball coach, Dave Manzer, learned of her story and went to his church during a staff meeting asking for help. A couple in attendance, Jim and Sharon Hess, offered to take Baker under their wing. She lived with them for three years until she graduated from high school.
“They would take me to church week after week,” Baker recalled. “I had no idea God was starting to plant these little seeds in my heart. Their intention wasn’t to make me become a Christian. Their intention was to make sure that I experienced love. I wasn’t a believer. They did the best that they could. My mother was doing the best that she could.”
But life didn’t get easier as she grew older.
“Things started getting really bad when I started doing cocaine,” said Baker. “I started doing ecstasy and really heavy drugs. I came so close to overdosing and just being on the brink of losing my life so many times. But when you’re entangled in addiction, you just don’t care about your life. You’re already in so much pain at that point that you start to not even care if you lose it.”
In July 2005, Baker said she found work as a school counselor at the University of Phoenix. She admitted to living a double life where she guided others by day but struggled with addiction behind closed doors. In 2009, when Baker was 24, she met a pastor at her job who invited her to attend a prayer session.
“I just figured why not?” said Baker. “I remembered I walked into this room and all of a sudden, these people started putting their hands on my shoulders. I thought it was strange. I certainly never experienced that before. The pastor then reads to me this Scripture from the bible and then says, ‘Would you like to receive the Lord into your heart?’”
“At that moment, it was like the weight I had been carrying for over 20 years of my life was lifted,” said Baker. “I came in one way and left that room a completely different person. My heart was set on fire. I felt free. I wanted to turn my life around. From there, I went through a process of healing. It took a few months to get off the drugs, but I was ready to be free from it all – the drugs, the alcohol, all the things I was doing that were hurting me and others. I just felt like God was breaking the chains one by one.”
Baker said that after she found Christianity, she was compelled to share her story with others.
“I was lost,” she reflected. “I spent most of my life doing horrible things to myself. I was running away from my pain. I now wanted to live the rest of my days telling people about what God had done for me and how he healed my heart.”
In 2007, Baker discovered she had a brain tumor. Horrified, she refused to get further checkups. But after she “gave my life to the Lord,” Baker went to a doctor once more. The tumor had grown significantly. In late 2010, she had surgery.
“As you can imagine, I was upset,” said Baker. “I had already given my life to Jesus. I got off the drugs and all of that. But here I was getting ready for surgery. I couldn’t stop crying. All I kept thinking was, ‘God, why me?’ I think we all reach that point in our lives where we wonder why certain things are happening to us… But we’ve got to find a sense of purpose even when we’re going through those tough times. I just remember saying, ‘God, I know you’re going to make this work for my good at some point, even if I don’t understand it, even if I don’t see it. It will work out for the good.’ Even during those moments of distress, I put my trust in God.”
Baker said her father visited her, and he had a special message for his daughter.
“We got into the elevator and he grabs my hand,” said Baker. “He said, ‘Last night, I told God that if he got you through this, that I would serve him.’ I started crying. I felt it was like a gift to me. When you go into brain surgery, there are a lot of risks… And this was the most major surgery of my life. But God gave this to me. And then my mother gave her life to the Lord while she was taking care of me. There was so much redemption. And we were finally healing.”
Today, Baker is happily connecting with millions of people across the country. She said the support continues to grow.
“I’ve never felt the pressure to change my content on TikTok,” she said. “I think people might feel the need to change their content to appeal to others. But I never felt the need to do anything else… This has been a blessing. The Lord stepped in my life and set me free. Now, I just want to share that with people. I found my way.”