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Valentine for Tsunami-stricken Souls: 
Artists Catch the Wave of Compassion 
By psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka, Dr. B.L.T. 

Have mercy, tsunami
There's a chill inside the air
There's a haunting, daunting silence
Though I know you do not care
You will leave so much destruction
In the sea of teardrops there...
extracted from: "Have Mercy, Tsunami"
words and music by Dr. B.L.Thiessen, (c)2005

In 2004, Mother Nature dealt the mother of all catastrophes. She sandwiched her bitter tsunamis right between two grand celebrations-Christmas and New Year's Day.  For those directly affected, the "Merry" in "Merry Christmas" became a distant memory and the "Happy" in "Happy New Year" felt like a gruesome greeting offered out of a spirit of bitter sarcasm.  

Where was God when the forces of nature wreaked havoc on so many innocent souls?  Why does God allow such torment to take over?  Why were the fierce, unstoppable tsunami waves allowed to crash in on the just and the unjust?  I may be forever haunted by these questions, at least until I get to heaven.  But I do believe in the words of that old hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness:"

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning
New mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord until me...
Extracted from "Great is Thy Faithfulness," Thomas O. Chisholm, 1923

Although the song came from his heart and was based on his understanding of the wonderful nature and character of God, Chisholm, the songwriter, was unaware of any particular circumstance or set of circumstances that prompted him to write it. although the song was written 82 years ago, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" seems to represent the ideal balm to relieve the grief of those who have lost loved ones in the face of the tsunamis.  The song speaks to me every time misfortune or suffering falls upon me or someone close to me.  God is a God of compassion, and nothing can change that about His glorious nature.  Human beings on the other hand vary in their ability or willingness to feel compassion, and to act in a compassionate way. 

For those in the ministry, or for those of us in the care-giving profession, compassion is something we need to dispense on a regular basis and yet sometimes we grow weary of feeling it and delivering it.  We may even entertain fantasies of never having to show empathy or compassion again.  

Don't worry
You won't feel a thing
When you look inside the eyes
Of someone suffering
When you hear the news
About tsunami waves
Compassion will be swept 
So far away...
Extracted from "Compassion Fatique," 
words and music by Dr. B.L.T. (c) 2004

What kind of world would we live in if compassion were considered a disease? Would we seek out surgeons to perform operations that would be called,   "compassion-otomies?"  I tried to imagine such a world.  The trail of my imagination led to the creation of a song I call, "Compassion Fatigue."  What came to mind was not a pretty world.  It was a cold, cruel one.  Perhaps more disturbing was the realization that it was not too hard to imagine such a world.   It was a world not too far removed from the one we live in.  Although you would never know it when you add up the massive sums of money donated to victims of the tsunamis, there is a shortage of compassion in the world today.  Like the Bee Gees once said in a song, "...nobody gets to much heaven no more/it's much harder to come by/I'm waitin' in line/nobody gets too much love anymore/it's as high as a mountain/and harder to climb..."  

Faithful Followers of His Faithfulness 

Yes, hell and high water may be just around the corner, and the Bee Gees may be right, "...nobody gets too much heaven no more..."  But a group I call "faithful followers of His faithfulness..." are reaching up to heaven and bringing it down to touch the lives of those afflicted by the horrific tsunami waves.  God has raised up a grand chorus of compassion and they are hearing it and feeling it in a glorious way in all of the afflicted nations.   Artists all over the world are using their gifts to raise lots of money as well as sending out Valentines in the form of concerts, new songs of comfort and inspiration.

I just wanna give
A valentine to you
Send it 'round the world
From a heart that's true
We just wanna give
All that we can give
With this valentine
Please accept this gift
Our valentine to you...
Extracted from: 
"Valentine for Tsunami-stricken Souls"
words and music by Dr. B.L.Thiessen, (c)2005

I am particularly struck by the impressive line-up of artists lending their support through Project Restore, a comprehensive tsunami relief program launched by the Gospel Music Association (GMA), in conjunction with World Vision.  That line-up includes Steven Curtis Chapman, Third Day, CeCe Winans, Kirk Franklin, Casting Crowns and over 40 other artists who have unselfishly offered their time and talents towards meeting the overwhelming need wrought by this vast disaster.   


In related developments, indie bands, Clemency and Plain Jane, both high profile Christian bands, laid their time and talent on the alter at Hope for Sri Lanka, a tsunami benefit concert held near Nashville, Tennessee and sponsored by and Mission of Mercy. 

Meanwhile, the band, Caedmon's Call has teamed up with ministry partners Dalit Freedom Network and Compassion International for their relief work in the tsunami-stricken nations.  

...wave of compassion
Come to save the day
Comfort broken spirits
We can pave the way
To a new tomorrow
Take away the pain
Wave of compassion
Come and save the day...
extracted from: "Wave of Compassion"
words and music by Dr. B.L.Thiessen, (c)2005

The wave of compassion is growing daily.  It has spread well beyond the shores of gospel and contemporary Christian music.  On January 15, 2005, to be specific, celebrities of all walks of life and spiritual belief systems pooled their resources in a magnanimous display of generosity.  Artists like Madonna, Diana Ross, Nora Jones, and Stevie Wonder sang from the bottom of their hearts and the money poured in at Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope.  These musical ambassadors were joined by a host of other celebrities---Clint Eastwood, Renee Zellwegger, Ben Afflect, and Robert De Niro, to name a few.   Others like Paul and Heather McCartney, Sting, Celine Dion, Incubus, Lenny Kravitz donated gargantuan sums of money and/or offered to give of themselves and their talents to ease tsunami suffering.

Tenacious D tenaciously pleaded for tsunami relief during a sold-out performance of music and comedy that included the likes of Beck, Will Ferrell, Dave Grohl and Eddie Vedder.  Of course everything's big in Texas, including generosity, and in Austin, Willie Nelson, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Fly and numerous other Americana artists performed a benefit concert to raise money for tsunami relief.  

Did I forget the land down under?  They burned the midnight oil for victims of the tsunami disaster at Waveaid, a massive event featuring such stellar Australian acts as Midnight Oil, Sydney Big Day Out, The John Butler Trio, Kasey Chambers, The Waifs, The Finn Brothers, Missy Higgins, Peter Murry, The Wrights (featuring members of Jet), Powderfinger, Spiderbait, The Living End, Grinspoon, and more.  The event was even enough to make Silverchair come out of their two-year slumber for a sizzling performance..  

In my neck of the woods, Bakersfield, California, up-and-coming local acts like Sick Trigger, Active Ingrediants, American Standard and Karmahitlist rocked the house down with their own tsunami relief concert.   Some of these artists, along with acts like The Had and The Been, Practically Poetz, Daniel Sisco, Jerry Rothberg of The Slap Happy Blues Band, Alyssa Kaess, and Lost Ocean have  joined me in putting together a compilation CD that will feature their songs, and multi-band/multi-artist versions of songs I wrote specifically for tsunami survivors.   In our efforts to raise money for tsunami relief, we may be like the trees in the forests that fall, but are never seen.  It doesn't matter.  God takes notice even when one sparrow falls.  

I'm sure there are compassionate artists I've left out, and there are small tsunami projects all over the world that are taking place that are big in the eyes of God.  God notices it all.  Whatever time, talents and monies you can afford to direct to tsunami relief, I would encourage you to take action.  No action is too big or too small.   

You may be tempted to stand by and criticize, or speculate about the motives of musicians, ostensibly moved by the need and the suffering.  Keep in mind that most of us have mixed motives for everything we do.  Most of us receive every time we give, and receiving may become a big part of the incentive for giving the second time around.  We can only dedicate our efforts to God and pray that he will help our motives to become increasingly aligned with his will.   

Speaking of giving and receiving, if you will give a small or large amount to the Salvation Army for their tsunami relief efforts, I will give you the link to some free, rare, if rough, solo versions of some original Dr. B.L.Tunes from our forthcoming multi-band, multi-artist tsunami relief compilation CD.  You could consider it a type of 'soundtrack' corresponding to this article.  Please write: "For tsunami relief" on your check or money order.  You can send your gift to: 

Captain David Edel 
The Salvation Army 
4417 Wilson Road 
Bakersfield, CA 93309 

To download Have Mercy Tsunami, Wave of Compassion, Compassion Fatigue and Valentine for a Tsunami-stricken Soul, visit this link: 

If you are an artist or band that would like to submit a song or two to be considered for our tsunami relief CD, send your song(s) on a CD to:

Dr. B.L.T Music 
PO Box 82012 
Bakersfield, California, 93380-2012 

Well, that's all for now, my friend.  I'm going surfing on the waves of compassion.  Care to join me?  Happy Valentines Day! 


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