"Ending Poverty": A Q&A with Third Day
So yes, I'm optimistic that this can be a better world where people have a shot. And I know that sometimes puts me at odds with a certain more conservative way of looking at the world, where the idea is that the world is all going to hell, so what's the point? I think a more complete biblical perspective is that first, we're supposed to be the people who stand against that, and second, the whole story is about redemption and restoration—all the "re-" words. Resurrection, that's what the faith story is about—the "re-" words. Isn't that what grace is about? Your own life getting a re-do, a re-start, getting to hit re-fresh.
What's one practical thing that we as Christians can do to help end extreme poverty?
I always talk about three first steps:
1) The ONE campaign. The ONE campaign has this really annoying way of reminding you that there are "have-nots" in the world. So it's a great first step. It brings these issues to you and reminds you of the poor. Let's be honest, we can go to church for a year and not be reminded of the poor. But you can't read a page in your Bible and not have God say something about the poor. So many moral issues get painted as right or wrong, but it's really a matter of priorities, aligning our priorities to God's priorities. God is very concerned about the poor and how we treat the poor.
2) There's an author named Randy Alcorn and he has a little book called The Treasure Principle. It comes from a Bible story that concludes with the idea that where your treasure is, so your heart will be also. The ONE campaign asks for your voice; but I believe as Christians you also need to give some money. In the same way you buy Apple stock or Google stock, you care. So whether it's a child sponsorship through Compassion International or World Vision, or supporting Food for the Hungry, give money. And I'm not talking about thousands of dollars, I'm talking about $38-40 a month. So say you're not going to go out one night a month, as an extra sacrifice.
3) Engage with your church or small group in a project that you take on as your own, whether it's local, or in Africa. There's tremendous value in being exposed to the poor and being connected to another community that's living this reality every day.
You guys have been playing for more than twenty years now. How has your music changed over the years?
It's a good time to ask. I just came from the recording studio and we're working on new music now, and we were just having that conversation. When you're a new band, you don't know if you're going to get another shot, so your statements are really big and really bold because you're trying to sum it all up in case this is your only record! Now, with the longevity we've had, we've realized we don't have to be quite as bold, we don't have to paint with primary colors. We can mix it up a little bit, there's room to talk about more personal things.
Our faith has matured too. It's really hard to listen to our first album. There are some great songs on it that we still play, but overall, it was like we were the guys on the street screaming at people. As a band matures, you're able to not yell so much but have a lot more to say.
What would say your music is about now?
I think the overall message of Third Day music is hope. It's carried throughout our career, but especially now in songs like "Cry Out to Jesus," "Tunnel," and "I Need a Miracle." We feel like we've been given this gift of a small measure of influence and we want to use it to encourage people. We have the testimonies that we have and now we don't want to settle for anything less.
In the same way a band like U2 is hard at work on another record, and people are asking why they're taking so long ... why is it getting punted yet another year? It can be frustrating for U2 fans, but the reason is, they're not going to settle for a trite record that doesn't encourage people, that doesn't lift people up, that doesn't help people in their darkest hours. Because they've done it before. And once you've done it, anything else is just not worthy of it.
And that's how we feel. People can be critical of that—maybe that doesn't sound very rock and roll—but man, we meet women who are wearing bandanas because they've just gone through another round of chemo, and they tell us that our music is what's getting them through. And parents who have lost children who tell us the only reason their marriage survived is because our music encouraged them in that darkest time. We don't take that for granted. For us, once you have that, anything less doesn't seem worth striving for.
Deborah Arca joined the Patheos team after more than ten years managing programs for the Program in Christian Spirituality at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Deborah has also been a youth minister, a director of Christian Education and music/theatre programs for young people and has served as a music director for worship and special retreats.