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Talk I Ė Beyond the Music: Making a Difference Off Stage
Wednesday, July 2, 2003
Participants: Joe Kirk, Steve Gee, Miranda Stone,
Linda LaFianza, moderator
There were no neatly wrapped answers at this lively discussion. Several of the original panelists were so busy with their ministries they couldnít even break away to attend the discussion. During the fifty-minute Talk, it developed that this was ministry in progress shot through with ambiguity and ample supplies of frustration. Fortunately, the panelists grabbed the topic away from the moderator and ran with it in unexpected directions, resulting in a provocative discussion and a worthwhile read. Ė ModeratorLinda LaFianza: Welcome to todayís Tollbooth Talk, part of The Phantom Tollboothís sponsorship of the Cornerstone Festival Press Tent. As the Internetís most comprehensive and influential publication, we cover edgier artists there; people with some very interesting ideas. These Tollbooth Talks are our chance to talk directly about those ideas; by getting together a group of people who can give us some different perspectives on those ideas and seeing what happens.
This first Tollbooth Talk is entitled, ďBeyond the Music, Making a Difference Offstage. The panelists are now going to introduce themselves, covering a little bit of their background, their past accomplishments, what they are currently involved in, and a description of their ministry. Then they will answer the question, which came first, the music, or the ministry? How did you hear this call to be involved in both worlds?
Joe Kirk: I am with Paste Media, which has Paste Magazine, Paste Records, Paste.com, Paste taking over the world; weíll paste everything before itís over with [laughs]. Iím the Director of Strategy, trying to figure out how Paste can actually be here fifteen years from now and not just be yet another great idea that came along and went away because of lack of funds or not knowing how to make it grow.
We started out as a website selling music that we wanted to buy, but couldnít find. Eventually, we became a magazine, and this past year, we started a record label. The first artist we are going to distribute into retail is Bill Mallonee, formerly of Vigilantes of Love. His new album will be out in August, 2003. I run the label; thatís my job at Paste.
Let me tell you a little bit about what Paste does outside the Christian community. Paste is not a Christian magazine, it is not a Christian label, it is not a Christian website, per se. We cover a lot of Christian artists, and all of the people who are principals in the company are Christian, but what we are trying to do is go into the world and come along side of Blender and Rolling Stone and Spin and whatever is in there in the secular market place and see if we can go toe to toe with them. So we are covering Christian artists and our faith influences the way we write and who we cover, but an awful lot of people have no idea there are Christians behind the magazine. Conversely, a lot of Christians donít know we are doing it. You can buy us at Barnes and Nobles and all those kinds of places. Check it out.
The ministry? Let me tell you something about what came first. Cornerstone came first. Cornerstone comes before everything. I was at the first Cornerstone, back in í84. My wife Betsy, who is sitting in the back row, was pregnant at that time with our first child, Megan, who will turn 19 in August. Betsy was just about to give birth, she was big, and we were living in Florida at the time, and itís hot, and I took off and ran to Chicago because I had to see the 77s. Weíve been coming a long time to this; we raised our children here.
So Cornerstone came first. We had three birth children, three daughters. Ten years ago, we began to feel that there was no ministry in our lives. That we were the good ďfamily valuesĒ couple; we were very involved in our church, that we were trying to do all the right Christian stuff, but our lives were very much focused on us. So we began to actively look for what kind of ministry might God have us do.
We were very convicted, Betsy, actually, first, that it need to be something to do with children. At the risk of getting political, Clinton had just entered office, and we had very great concerns about the Pro-life movement and what was going to be happening in our country. So we were looking a lot at what could we do for kids? Eventually, we came to the conclusion that should adopt children.
In the state of Georgia, we live in Atlanta, and a lot of other states, you have to be licensed to either foster or adopt from the state. We went through some training in order to get licensed and during the course of the training, in a dramatic way, God said, ĎI want you to go adopt four particular children.í It was four sisters, between three and eight. They had been in foster care for three years. We are the tenth set of parents; they had bounced around from home to home. That was April 17, ten years ago, and August 20 of that year we adopted them, the day after we met them. We had no idea who they were, which scared the Department of Family and Child Services a lot, that we would adopt children we had never even met. They thought that we were nuts. I remember the day that they said, ĎWeíve talked a lot about you and weíre trying to decide if you are kooks, and weíve decided that you are kooks. But weíve decided that you are harmless kooks.í That is a label I can live with, ďharmless kooks.Ē So we adopted these four children.
For the last ten years, Iíve had seven daughters. Weíll have some birthdays coming up in the next couple of months, and we will be 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19. So anyone who is a father here, yes I have 7 teen-age daughters living in my house. And my wife is a female, too, so I live with a lot of women.
What is the ministry now? Real recently, weíve noticed that over ten years that weíve told our story a lot; itís a very dramatic story of God directly saying, ĎGo get these kids,í and doing it in a way that we had no choice but to go do it. Weíve told this story to a lot of people over the last ten years and weíve had a lot of people say, ĎWow, thatís a really great story; Iím really inspired,í and weíve never seen a single one of them adopt a child as a result of hearing the story.
Weíve been struggling with that. Why is it that people hear a story that is good and is inspiring, but canít do anything as a result of it? That may sound judgmental; I donít mean that of people. The issue is, people need someone to guide them. So we are working now in our church trying to build a model for support groups that churches could have to support families who would adopt kids.
125,000 kids in America are in the custody of the state whose parental rights have been terminated. 17% of them will ever be adopted. Thatís what we are trying to do.
Steve Gee: Iím a guitarist, and I sing in Last Tuesday. Weíre from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Weíre signed with Dug Records out of Gainesville, Florida, currently have a couple of CDs out; doing well, enjoying some suggest. Most importantly, when I read what the topic was going to be, I was floored because this is exactly what the four of us [in the band] talk about when we are on those long trips, and trying to keep our eyes open, eating a bunch of junk. These are the things that we talk about; our ministry and why we are doing this.
A little background about myself: in college, I felt a calling to kids, high schoolers. I wanted to be in ministry to them, and I felt the best way was to be a high school teacher. So thatís what I went to school for, to be a high school English teacher. I completed my degree, and I taught the two years. Iíve played in the band for five years, but at the end of this [school] year, I realized I was making a difference. I was making an impact on those kidsí lives in my school, but I felt God calling me to do it even more, full time, as much as I could. I decided to quit my job and go out on the road full time, and just meet as many kids as possible.
As far as our ministry goes, our philosophy on what we are doing, we want to be one of the first bands there, we want to be the last ones to leave. We want to meet as many kids as possible whether we are playing at a Christian event, or a secular event.
We are a punk band, and we realized there are a lot of kids in this genre who are a little confused, a little angry at things, not even sure what they are angry at. We just want to be four young men being positive role models, showing them that there is hope, that life doesnít have to be as depressing as it is for them. I understand there are a lot of broken homes, but we just want to meet [the kids] and show them it doesnít have to be like that.
We are musicians, we do practice, but honestly, most of our talk, most of our thought is about what we are doing before and after our show. We have a lot of fun up on stage; itís a great time and Iím glad that God has given us something we enjoy and also part of our mission. But it is after the shows that we are really doing this for. I wouldnít have felt comfortable quitting my job to be a musician, but quitting my job because I believe it is the will of God to meet as many kids as possible, Iíd do it in a heartbeat again. Iíve been at peace about it since Iíve made that decision. My parents, on the other hand, arenít, but Iím still feeling pretty good about it, and I try to explain to them the whole concept of what I am doing. We want to meet as many kids as possible, be positive role models to them, and show them Christís love.
LaFianza: You both love music; you are very involved in it. What did you take from the music industry into these other ways of serving?
Kirk: This may not be quite what you are asking, but I will say one thing about music. When we first adopted the kids, there was music around our house, everywhere. The kids didnít really know what to do with that. I remember I took the oldest of the birth kids and the oldest of the adopted kids, our ďhome grownĒ and ďstore bought,Ē as we call them, and I took them out to a CD store shortly after the adoption. I told each of them they could buy one album. My birth daughter buys Abby Road, and Iím thinking, IĒve raised her well, she has good taste. The oldest of the adopted kids, buys Michael Jacksonís Bad. You have your own opinions of that, but I thought, well, okay, Iím going to have to work on this one. She listened to it a lot, and we spent a lot of time working through the lyrics. She was very confused about why I was actually paying attention to lyrics and thinking about the music. A few months after they were there, we went up to Athens, Georgia to visit with Bill Mallonee. When we came home, I found her in our family room. She had the Michael Jackson album and one of Billís album, I think it was Killing Floor, and sheís holding the two next to one another and going back and forth. I asked her what she was doing, she said, ďWell, this is Michael Jackson, but we just ate dinner with this guy.Ē You could tell that she thought musicians were sort of ďout thereĒ somewhere, that they werenít real humans. And my experience is that they are.
It really helped for them to realize that these were real people. Coming to Cornerstone, what a great place that they can go see bands that they like and afterwards, the bands are hanging around. That oftentimes, we are going to see a concert with one artist that we like and you are standing next to another artist thatís watching the same show and talking about how much you like it. Thatís meant a lot. Itís made them start to identify with musicians. Music has had a very powerful influence on them, and in particular, I donít know how many people listen to Julie Miller here, but her album Orphans and Angels, and Julie deals a lot with child abuse in her albums, our kids listened to that album constantly when first adopted them. They had no idea why. If Iíd asked them to exegete the lyrics for me, theyíd look at me like I was an idiot. But they would just keep playing this album over and over again. Iím convinced that the music was getting inside, and that they were dealing with the abuse through the lyrics that were there. Iíve sat with Julie and talked to her about that, that somehow, she is writing something that has a powerful impact on these kids.
LaFianza: Steve Gee, what are you taking from the music into your ministry?
Gee: Growing up, I listened to a lot of punk music, harder music, and a lot of times, Iíd find myself being angry or just in a bad mood. One of my Christian friends actually came up to me and said, ĎYouíve got to stop listening to that!í The more, especially going through my education to be a teacher, studying psychology and things like that, the more I realized how much the music does effect the youth, and everybody, actually. Itís such a powerful medium and to think that there are so many artists out there that are putting things out that are self-destructive and self-serving, it was disheartening to me. Our goal here is to make music that is not like that. We do not buy into the fact that music does not affect people. We want to use this medium in a positive way instead of the things we are seeing on MTV and things like that that are really hurting our youth.
I saw it every day in school; I could tell when a student walked in dressed a certain way, or looking a certain way, head down, it just didnít surprise me; I know what kind of music they listened to. I know the exact bands they are in to. We realize that music does affect; this is a great vehicle for what we are trying to do, to meet kids, so thatís what weíre trying to do here; to make positive music because we do believe in the power of it.
LaFianza: Letís meet our third panelist, Miranda Stone. Please do a brief introduction of your self, some of your current musical projects, and describe your ministry, which may have nothing to do with your music, and everything to do with your life.
Miranda Stone: Iím from Toronto Canada. I run a little record company that puts out my own stuff, just because the budget is that small. One of the major problems that we have in Toronto is homelessness. Iíve been involved in the past working in a menís shelter, which was part of the Salvation Army, and getting involved with people on the street, just talking with them, hanging out with them and so on.
Iíve been doing music for about ten years independently and have three albums out independently. I often travel solo so I tour mostly by myself. I get in the van, I book my own tour, and a lot of it is very much independent.
LaFianza: Which came first, the music, or the ministry?
Stone: When I started out to just write good music. I wanted to do music that wasnít cliché. My first Christian album I bought when I was young was Michael W. Smithís Go West, Young Man, and that was the last because I just wasnít into it after a couple of listens anymore. No offense, but I wanted to find music that was speaking to some of the issues I was dealing with, and they werenít always on the inside of the Christian kind of circles. When some of your best friends are involved in the gay and lesbian community and some of your best friends are suicidal and some of your best friends are dealing with issues that sometimes the church avoids dealing with, you just end up wanting to find music that is on the outside of that. I gravitated more towards bands like Bruce Cockburn, who is a very political writer from Canada; people like Over the Rhine; and so on. Bands on the outer cusp.
LaFianza: So you tastes have followed your faith?
Stone: The goal that I set out to do was to write good music first, and write music that wasnít cliché. And afterwards, how can I do music that actually shares where Iím at as a follower of Christ in a way that is really grass-rootsy and really in the common language of the people I am talking to? Rather than the cliché talk I was hearing in my church. The issues Iím writing about stems out of a desire to want to connect with people I am connecting with on a regular basis.
Thatís a tough question because I find that that fluctuates. When I started music, my parents wanted me to write Christian music; because that was something they could feel good about. So when Iíd hole up in my room when I was first starting to write music, it freaked them out because they didnít know what I was writing about, and I wouldnít let them hear what I was writing about.
For years, there has always been this struggle about am I doing ministry or am just doing art for the sake of doing art? I still donít know if I can answer that. Sometimes I feel like Iíd like to ditch the whole Christian scene all together because I get frustrated within it.
LaFianza: Joe Kirk, what does youíre adoption give you to take back to the music industry?
Kirk: I have a built-in focus group of what teen-agers are listening to in your house. With seven daughters, I pretty much know what is going on [laughs]. But that is less of a joke that it first appears. Our house is really messy. I donít mean messy like not picked-up messy, but there are just a lot of issues. Itís a household of abused kids. Even last night, my wife and I were up at four oíclock in the morning because one of the kids snuck out of our camp and disappeared in the middle of the night. We were out looking for her. Sheís back, sheís okay, but there is just always this sense of crisis and dealing with kids who are struggling.
I identify a lot with Miranda in not wanting to just be in the sanitized world. Certainly, the things that we are covering in Paste are an attempt to do that. In fact, Miranda has been in the magazine. Three are a lot of great things going on in the world, but there are a lot of really hard things. We want to deal with the hard issues and somehow, having all these kids in the house has forced us to open up and deal with it.
We live in suburbia. Weíre in the north side of Atlanta. Itís a very wealthy, suburban area and all of our neighbors moved there to get away from all of the things that we brought into the house when we adopted these kids. To be honest, we probably did too, before the adoptions. Thatís what you go there for. You get in a nice, family value church and you get away from all that crime and you try to protect your kids. And then all of a sudden, we go get these four kids who have been abused, have pan-handled on the street and had ten sets of parents, all that kind of stuff, and you make them roommates to your birth kids. Suddenly, you are having to deal day in and day out with it.
In terms of what that does for the music side, what that does for Paste, it has pushed me towards artists who are not dealing with a sanitized view of life, which you can see in our magazine, which you can see in the type of artist we are signing.
LaFianza: Steve Gee, you touched on this before, but do you have anything to add?
Gee: I definitely can identify with what they [the other panelists] are saying. Our lyrics are how we would communicate. Our lyrics arenít necessarily contemporary Christian lyrics. Weíre not talking about Jesus a lot; there arenít a lot of Bible verses cited in our lyrics. Most of it comes from things that we see are going on; things that we are dealing with as young men; things that we see other kids struggling with in the real world. Those are the things that we write about. In our songs, we usually we talk about the problems that are going on, and our formula is to make sure that we have left them with a bit of hope that it doesnít have to be that way. What we take back into the music from our ministry is meeting kids, talking to kids, taking their problems and realizing that is what is going on. All four of us have been raised in Christian homes so we see a lot of things out on the road and when we are playing; a lot of things are going on, even teaching. Just a lot of broken households, and itís definitely effected the way we write our music, to address those things, and to relate to those things.
LaFianza: Miranda Stone, what do you take specifically from your work with the homeless back to your music?
Stone: [deep sigh] I donít know. I donít know. Thatís a hard question, too. I can tell you what I experienced when I worked with homeless people. I thought that if I would work with the shelter, I would understand. . . .I was pissed off about the fact that these guys didnít care to get off the street a lot of the time; that a lot of them, a fair amount of them, were expecting handouts, and when the handouts didnít come for them, theyíd call me a whole variety of wonderful names that you call mean women. All kinds of situations that I thought that maybe if I went in with a smile and wanted to help in whatever way, that maybe I would see results, but when you are working as a relief worker, that means that you are coming in one day a week, or you are coming in when someone is sick. You donít get to really walk with people one-on-one to see if there is change happening.
That is why community is so important. Because a lot of the time, as an artist, we come into a town; what I was experiencing at the shelter was what I experience everything I go into a town. I meet people, I try to make an impact, and I leave. And I never ever get to see what the impact is, whether it is a good or bad impact. Except when someone writes me a letter.
What I learned at the shelter is that I need to be really forgiving. I need to forgive people that they are not changing as fast as I want them to change. Iím probably at some point write about those experiences, but I still donít know how to write about homelessness in a way that isnít trite.
During that time, I also went into somewhere in Toronto called Tent City. Itís kind of like the slums of Toronto. Theyíve recently bulldozed them down, but there was a huge area where about fifty people were on a piece of property putting up houses with whatever they could find; pieces of wood, cement block, whatever they could find to put these little shelters together. I went in one day to take some photographs and to talk to some of the people who actually lived in that area. I thought that I would take some photographs as a way of showing that people could still survive, or people could be resourceful. I hung out with a couple for about five hours, and I watched them go through two or three bottles of wine in the course of those hours. And by the time my hanging out with them was through, I was getting pictures from these people that were extremely angry and violent, pictures I donít want to look at anymore, because it is just really tough.
When you work at a homeless shelter, the big question is, are these people here because they became addicted to a drug or substance that took all their life away, or are these people addicted to drugs and substances because something else because something else completely shoved them over the edge and they lost everything?
A person often ends up on the street for two reasons that I figured out. They either grew up on the street, or in some kind of poverty situation, and thatís all theyíve ever known, so their community is there and they donít want to leave their community. Even if someone gives them a house, they wonít leave.
Sometimes, they end up [on the street] because, letís say, their wife walked out on them or their husband walked out on them or something and itís something too big for them to bear so they lose it. They lose their job, they start drinking, they do something to kind of compensate for that pain, and they end up on the street because they lose everything.
Those are the two main reasons and somewhere in there, mental illness plays a very large part in it as well.
As far as how that relates to my music? I havenít been able to write about it yet. I donít know how yet. There are things that I donít know what to write about, or how to write about them because they hurt too much. I donít feel like I have answers for those things yet, so I donít know if that answers anything. . .you are looking at me like Iím on crack. . .
LaFianza: No, no, thatís wonderful. Thank you for that excellent response. We wonít call it an answer.
Stone: Iím the folksinger who will give you no answers! Just a lot of questions.
LaFianza: I want to just throw in here that this panel is intended to be a cliché-buster. There is this idea out there, promulgated by slicker, better-produced people, that your music is a ministry, and it is a wonderful thing, and sometimes it is, but . . .
Stone: You know what? You know what I find is more of a ministry? The letters I write to people. Lyrics are fine, but I find that the time that I spend offstage, sorry to interrupt you.
LaFianza: Thatís fine. Steve Gee has said the same thing. So this panel is a music ministry cliché-buster. Whatís really going on with ministry? What is the real ministry? Where did God call you to? When it is messy and ugly, how do you deal with that and still produce art? Or maybe you start finally to produce art as a result of it.
Starting with Joe Kirk, are these two a good match? Could you talk about your struggle balancing the two, music and ministry? How do you overcome those struggles? Are you going to stay in both worlds, or is one going to win?
Kirk: Iím going to stay in both worlds. I donít know what is going to happen in the future; I really donít. I have no clue what it will pan out to. I donít make a dichotomy between doing the ministry of adoption and doing the work of Paste Records. I think they are all the same things.
It is interesting, Miranda saying she hasnít dealt with homelessness yet, and it may not be directly in your lyrics, but I can feel the things that you are doing in your albums. It informs who we are and the way we approach the world. When we are sitting down to sign a contract, or write a song or do a review, or help my daughter work through her insecurities, itís the same thing. We are called to approach it as Christians. Thatís too vague, ďto be Christians,Ē but I donít put this dichotomy between secular and sacred. You certainly see that in what we are trying to do with Paste. Pete Yorn is on the cover of the new issue of Paste. Thereís nothing particularly Christian about Pete Yorn. Bruce Cockburn got the small inset, Pete Yorn the big picture.
I donít think we have to make that dichotomy that, okay, Iím done, and now Iím going to go do ministry. Our life is ministry, and we are doing it all the time.
LaFianza: But you are being stretched in that life, also.
LaFianza: Steve, what you would add to that?
Kirk: Say you are also being stretched.
Gee: Iím also being stretched.
Stone: Iím also being stretched. Thatís the shortest answer Iíve ever given in any seminar.
Gee: I guess I didnít answer the question earlier, which came first, the music or the ministry? Iíd have to say the ministry came first. The music really is just our vehicle. So to say which one is going to win out, Godís will is going to win out. If Godís will is for us not to do music anymore, then weíre not going to do music anymore, and weíre all okay with that. We talk about that constantly as a band. So which on wins out? Itís always going to be the ministry. If tomorrow God shows us, you know, destroys another one of our vans by having it overheat 67 times, then maybe thatís a sign. Or maybe Godís showing us something. If Godís will is for us to do something else, then thatís what weíre going to do. Like I said before, we all love music, love to do it; Iím glad that God is using our music to do this because it is so much fun, but if it is gone, we would be doing something else.
Stone: I think I beg to differ with you; this is where the blows come! I think that I will probably always have to do art. Itís like breathing for me. Itís a way of seeing. Itís a way that I look at my food. It is the way I see color, it is the way I smell things. Art is everything and how I do everything, every moment all the time.
Music is one small little branch of what I do. When you say you could do something else, maybe tomorrow youíll stop doing music, Iíve often asked myself, if it came to the point where it wouldnít make sense for me to do music any more, would I quite writing, or would I have to write? If you cut off my arms, would I still be able to create? I would probably continue to create with my feet. And if you cut off my feet off, I would probably begin to create with my brain and talk to people about ideas that I wanted to make. If I wasnít really depressed first [laughs]. What do you call a folksinger with no arms, no legs? Depressed.
Kirk: The Black Knight.
Stone: I understand, I think, what you are saying.
Gee: Right. Since I was a teacher, I would readily go back to that.
Stone: You will probably always have this teaching bone in your body.
Gee; Correct: As soon as music does end, thatís what Iíll do. For instance, another member of our band is a missionaryís kid and has always thought about going overseas. So if God shows us thatís the things we need to be doing, thatís what weíre doing. Yes, of course, weíre always going to be doing art and things like that, but as far as Last Tuesday, thatís not where we are approaching it, as these musicians trying to change the world with our song.
Weíre actually, ĎHey, you are going to let us play and then talk to your kids? Thatís awesome.í So give us a venue, thatís great. Weíve had some success with our music, thatís wonderful, we hope that continues, definitely, because thatís what we want to do, itís kind of cool to do, but thatís not really how we are entering it. I understand that there are a lot of people in the Christian and secular world where their art is their music, and thatís what theyíve thought about for a long time. But we didnít starting playing music until we were in college so music isnít what we are about, really, it is the ministry. If Iím being a high school teacher, if someone is being a missionary, if someone else is running a boys and girls club because it is shown to us that thatís no longer what we should be doing for Godís will, then thatís what Iím talking about.
I donít necessarily think you are disagreeing with me at all, but I appreciate it.
Stone: I just wanted to make it look like I am disagreeing with you because it would make it look more exciting.
Kirk: Yeah! I thought it was good.
LaFianza: That was a great sound bite.
Kirk: Over the last ten years, as weíve told people our story, we hear real often from them, ĎThatís really amazing, we really like it, I could never do anything like that.í The response always ends with that phrase. My response back is always, ĎMaybe you canít have seven teen-aged girls in your house, but what is God calling you to?í
Two of the kids, when we went to pick them up in the foster home, the foster home they were living in, this couple specialized in real special-needs kids. There were crack babies, there was a kid there who only had a brainstem, one that was hydro encephalic, it as basically kids you canít do anything for. You are just kind of holding on to them until they die. It was the most depressing place Iíve ever been. I didnít know how they could every day sit around and hold and hug and love these kids that you just knew they were going to die. There was nothing you could do to save them. There is always something out there that you canít do, that looks like ministry that somebody else is doing and is amazing in some way. God has gifted all of us to do something.
I happen to be able to be very in touch with my feminine side and hang out in a house with eight women. That doesnít mean that everybody can, but everybody can do something, and I think we are missing the boat if we think that ministry is a thing that some people are called to and some people arenít. God is calling all of us to minister, and everybody here is hearing Godís call about something, and you better go do it, whatever it is he is telling you to do.
Stone: That might mean cooking a meal for somebody.
Gee: Itís interesting that this is coming up. On our way here, we were playing some other shows in Indiana. Our van did break down. We were taken in by this Christian family. I donít even know how to express their ministry. Heís fixing our van right now. He called his church and the church let us borrow their van.
Stone: No way!
Gee: The church didnít even know us, and if they knew us, they probably wouldnít let us [all laugh]. Thatís beside the fact. The thing is, he was talking to us, he said, ĎSometimes I struggle,í heís a husband, he has two kids, he has a job,í sometimes I struggle about what Godís will and what my ministry is. I should be doing this, I should be out on the road, I should be doing this or that.í But the more we talked about it, the more we just realized and came to this place where we understood the whole head and the whole foot thing, that everybody can minister in whatever they are doing.
Like you said, ĎCooking a meal.í His wife cooked us 16 meals. That was a ministry to us, and definitely helped us get here. I definitely agree with the fact that everybody is called to do something; we are all part of the ministry.
LaFianza: One last round of questions. Please share a scripture verse or a Bible story that guides you in this calling.
Kirk: ďWe love because He loved us first.Ē 1 John 4:19 Thatís why we do it. Weíre not doing it to please God, or to earn favor or anything, but God has forgiven and accepted us and loved us with all of our warts, so weíve got to go and do the same thing.
Gee: As far as what guides us, as far why we do what we do and why our lyrics are the way they are, ďI have called you out to the world,Ē the Great Commission. We want to go out into the world. Yeah, we love playing churches, yeah we love playing Christian events; thatís awesome. Itís great, great to fellowship. But we also want to be playing bars, clubs, anything where we can be part of that world, and be a light. Thatís our real, we feel, calling to be out there, amongst those [that are] lost.
Stone: I was actually reading the other day, someone commented on who the most needy people are in the world, and again, it talks about in the Bible about taking care of the fatherless and the widow. Thereís many references to taking care of the fatherless and the widow and those are the people that need our compassion and our care the most. And those are usually the people that get in trouble down the road the most, because no one was there to give them love in the beginning.
When you have a bunch of people that are desperately needing love at the beginning of their life and they are not getting it, you have major, major turmoil five, ten, twenty years down the road. When I was at the shelter, I was seeing a lot of that, and I think there is a reason God calls us to those people, for that very reason. Because He knows a person devoid of love, especially early on in their life, a person who has had their support in the community taken away, are the people that are going to be at risk for the most disturbing, the most violent, the most sad, and grief later on in life.
Kirk: Linda, I quoted that statistic earlier about 17% of the kids will get adopted, the other 83%, the statistics are just appalling on what happens to them. A large number of them end up in Mirandaís homeless shelter. There are just horrible things that happen, so youíve got to catch them when they are young.
LaFianza: Thank you very
much. I see we have covered the spectrum here in ministry to young people;
from infancy and family life to adolescence to young adulthood to the consequences
of neglect of these important matters. Thatís sort of neat how it all ties