By Jeff Goins, Editor
As an artist, do you believe that the arts can challenge fans to help change the world? How?
Yes, I think so. Art can pull on human emotions in a way that no other form of entertainment can. Art has a way of seeping into our consciousness and sticking there. Songs can instantly rewind you to an experience or a time. Paintings can remind you of smells and places. Art is powerful! Weve seen God use music to melt the coldest of hearts and take people from spiritual death, to life! If art can do that, challenging us to change the world is not such a tall order after all.
As a fan, have you ever listened to a song, watched a film, or seen a piece of artwork that challenged you in your day-to-day life? How did this piece make an impact on you?
Yes! I can think of two right away. Am I allowed to have two?
One. The movie Blood Diamond had an enormous effect on me. We were in the middle of recording the album Hello and got stuck creatively. It was late at night and we just thought a movie would clear our heads. If youve seen this movie then you know that just the opposite occurred. All I could think about was that engagement ring I bought for my wife. Did children die? Did a man lose him family? How many people were oppressed as a result of a corrupt industry I knew nothing about? Talk about fuel for creativity!
Two. The song Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2 from the 1983 album War also had a huge impact on me. The song is the only reason Im even aware of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Bonos infectious chant describing bodies strewn across the dead end streets, challenged my appreciation for religious freedom.
How have you personally experienced poverty? What effect did that encounter have on you and your art?
Other than a steady diet of microwavable noodles for 4 years of collegiate poverty I havent experienced true poverty by any stretch of the imagination. However, I have seen it. More than my art, I think what Ive seen has affected my lifestyle and contentment for where I am in life. I feel more than blessed and Im thankful for every pair of shoes I own. Chasing a certain income bracket simply for the sake of a chance to buy more stuff has been erased from my list of life goals. I am content being who I am and I am thankful for what God has given me.
Are you or your group doing anything special to fight poverty or raise awareness for how people can live more compassionately towards the needy?
The band just recently teamed up with Compassion International. We visited one of the Compassion projects in the Dominican Republic just a few weeks ago. I will never forget the way God worked on my heart as we visited families in a shantytown who have nothing but a makeshift roof and a few clothes. We are so moved and excited to use our stage to share about sponsoring these children and giving our fans the opportunity to get involved.
How can Christians better reach out to the poor and needy around the world as well as in their own back yards?
We, as American Christians for sure should be getting involved wherever we can. I think we start with prayer. The power of prayer is huge!! Weve seen Jesus do amazing things in peoples lives through prayer. Imagine what could happen if Christians united in prayer on behalf of the poor worldwide…how many people would God then instruct to go, give or whatever?! There are so many organizations that fight for everything from social justice to finding new treatments for patients with HIV/AIDS; personal involvement in something like that is a great way to impact lives. For us as a band, our partnership with Compassion International is allowing us to work with extreme poverty relief, early intervention for pregnant women & education for young people that will help them escape the grip of poverty.
While out on tour and as part of the work that you do, how have you encountered those in serious need? What was your response?
In addition to our recent trip to the Dominican Republic, we have had several sobering moments along the way through touring and our overall involvement in
music. Ben and I were able to work with an organization that put together mission camps for youth during the summers. We helped lead teams into the mountains of Tennessee to do whatever was needed. It was at that moment that I saw true poverty up close and personal for the first time. God tugged on my heart and brought my consciousness to a sobering realization that it was my responsibility, as someone who professes to know Jesus, to help. No matter how much money we have, we all have a voice that can be heard if we will take the time to be aware and care.
Have you written or created anything that was specifically inspired by the poor and Gods heart for them?
One of the songs on our Album Hello called Come And Rain Down was written after the Katrina disaster in the US. People along the US gulf coast went headfi
rst into poverty overnight. Imagining that experience inspired the lyrics. The song is from the perspective of the victims that lost everything and from the perspective of God expressing His desire to comfort and meet their needs.
How do you hope people will live differently after coming in contact with your music?
Hopefully our art causes people to think and act on the world around them. To us, art is expression and communication. First it expresses emotion, feeling or thought. Secondly, and hopefully, it communicates giving room for a response. We want to look beyond our mirrors & to do lists and hopefully inspire others to do so as well. We t to make it obvious that Jesus loves people and wants to know each of us! Realizing the desperation humanity has for a relationship with its creator is paramount; realizing our own individual responsibility to live in submission to Jesus is simply the response.
If you liked this article, check out: Voices in Culture: After Edmund Interview
Jeff graduated from Illinois College, a small liberal arts school, with a degree in Spanish and Religion. He lives in Nashville, TN. He works for Adventures in Missions, edits this silly little magazine, and loves to do new things. He just got married in January.