One of my favourite aspects about the weekend was going to the live interviews. The stories behind the songs moved me and I was impressed to see that there was so much more to these bands than just success and PR hype.
Brothers Pete, Jon and Dann Hume put their band, Evermore, together fourteen years ago and began performing at the Parachute festival in New Zealand. As their popularity increased, they took the opportunities that opened up for them in the secular music field and became very successful. They gradually moved away from church and God during those years of travelling and then about four years ago, they realised that something was lacking. They wanted more and returned to their faith and the covering of the Christian community.
'It's just such an amazing journey that we've been on, all the twists and turns of what we've been doing as musicians and people,' says Jon. During their interview, the brothers relayed how important the writing of lyrics are to them.
'A good song, one that has a message, those are the songs that last, those are the songs that you keep coming back to,' says Pete. 'That's more than a sound, more than just something to make you dance. It becomes part of life'.
With lyrics like: 'Let's follow the sun until the shadows fade, cross the desert till we find our place, think of where you're going not where you've come from, just lift your eyes and follow the sun,' you can't help but think these boys have travelled a journey that has taken them right to where they're meant to be.
'There's been so much personal growth and things that have been happening over the last few years,' says Pete, 'There's still fruit to come from that, which is going to be awesome, and Jon's got married, you know - we've grown up'.
But this wasn't the only band with a story.
As Matt Hammitt from band 'Sanctus Real' waited as the doctor's operated on the heart of his fourth child, he thought, 'I can't fix it, I can't do anything'. He and his wife have been on a journey of their own.
'It caused me to trust in a way that I've never had to trust before because I literally had no control in that situation,' he says. 'You can either obsess over it or let it go. So I decided to let it go and just trust in The Lord. He has given me the strength somehow to be strong and I find my strength in Him'.
With life challenges including a child with a heart defect, a tour bus fire and many other unexpected events along the way, their lyrics once again reach into the listeners heart, connect with us and change the way we think. I think the lyrics of their song 'On Our Own' sum it up pretty accurately for them:
'We cannot make it on our own, we need You everywhere we go,
You are the hope of so much more, Jesus, without you we cannot make it on our own.
We've gotta keep our eyes on true hope, set our hearts on a heavenly home.'
Matt and his wife Sarah have felt the pain and heartache that goes with having a seriously sick child and are developing a foundation to help bring practical, financial, emotional and spiritual support to those who have a child affected with a congenital heart defect (www.bowensheart.com).
But Sanctus Real are not alone. It seems pathways, especially difficult ones, lead to opportunity and purpose. So what does opportunity or purpose look like?
'I've been in the valley,' says Audio Adrenaline's bassist Will McGinness, 'I've been on the mountain top and I've been in the places where you're just crying out to God "what's next for me? What do you want to do with me?" And He says, "No, your best days aren't behind you. I've got so much more for you."
Moved by the plight of the survivors of the Haiti earthquake, the band founded the Hands and Feet Project (www.handsandfeetproject.org).
'It's the greatest thing that God's allowed us to do.' Says Will, 'If we never do another thing, we can say, "God you did that work and we're so proud to be able to be a part of it."'
When lead singer Mark Stuart could no longer sing due to losing his voice, it seemed that Audio Adrenaline had played their final song. Several years later, the hand of God brought the band back together with a new lead singer, Kevin Max from DC Talk, who was on his own journey.
'After the earthquake it's just unbelievable how these people live,' says Kevin Max, 'it's absolutely heartbreaking, but when we turned the cameras on to these kids it was amazing to see them just come to life.'
God is using ex-lead singer Mark Stuart to now be a voice for these suffering children. He has adopted a child as his own and spends much time in Haiti helping and living amongst this community. It is encouraging to see the hand of God at work in these musician's lives as they not only carry the Word to millions around the world through their music, but are also living it.
'They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony,'
(Revelation chapter 12 verse 11).
At the end of the weekend, we packed down our brand new tent and I stood in awe as my husband managed to fit it back into the small case we had retrieved it from only three days earlier. I felt as though I could sleep for a week but I smiled in quiet content as the conversations from my children that filled our car on the way home consisted of stories they had heard from these bands. Stories of overcoming obstacles, of faith in adversity, of hope that stays strong even in the hard times.
These are the things that make coming back to these weekends worth every minute. These are the stories that linger in the hearts of those who have heard them and turn songs into more than just music.
Rebecca and her husband Tony, have four children and live on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. She has a passion for God and loves writing children stories, interest articles and teaching piano.
Rebecca Moore's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/rebecca-moore.html