I don’t believe there’s an unfriendly bone in all of our church family, so at the close of last Sunday’s late morning service it wasn’t surprising to see a bunch of regulars congregate around an unfamiliar face.
The equally friendly and warm visitor told us he was in Grand Forks from Nashville, Tenn. He found us on Google while searching for a liturgical church and the opportunity to take communion. He also liked the time of our service and upon arrival was pleased to learn the music was contemporary. When it was all said and done, “I was thankful,” he told me. “I was blessed.”
Turns out our guest was Richard Jordan, one of the cast members of “God’s Not Dead LIVE Rivals,” the group that opened Sunday night for the Newsboys in the UND Chester Fritz Auditorium.
I was one of those who enjoyed visiting with Richard Sunday morning and again at the Fritz Sunday evening before “Rivals” took the stage.
The Newsboys are a Christian pop rock band founded in 1985 in Australia. They have released 17 studio albums, six of which have been certified gold.
Members are: Michael Tait, lead singer; Jeff Frankenstein, keyboard; Jody Davis, lead guitar and Duncan Phillips, drums.
The Newsboys added something new and different for the opening act of their 2017 Love Riot Tour. “Rivals,” is a cast of singers, actors and dancers, who through a theatrical experience, answer the question, “Can God really make a difference. They take the audience to a music venue where stars are born and rivals are met. Through it all friendships are formed and lives are changed.
Every male and female voice in the “Rivals” cast is outstanding. I was partial to Richard’s because on Sunday morning, we heard that very voice sing with us from his pew in Immanuel Lutheran.
My Newsboys ticket allowed me to sit in on a Q and A with the four before their concert. We learned that lead singer, Michael Tait, is the baby brother of Lynda Randle, who sings with the Gaithers and whose signature song is, “God on The Mountain.”
Most of the Q and A questions came from youngsters who wanted to know such things as how long it takes to write a song. Drummer Duncan, in his endearing Australian accent answered, “Some take months, some you write in a day and some write themselves.”
The “Boys,” were asked their favorite Bible story. They named that of Job. “It’s a story of devastation, conversation and restoration,” Michael said. “It’s a story of redemption.”
This tour, which began in February and ends in May, includes stops in 50 cities. Three of the Newsboys are married and between them there are nine children. They were asked how they balance the tour with family life. “We get home to our families and have normalcy once a week,” Duncan said. “We believe we were called and our wives are heroes. If we didn’t have them we couldn’t do this.”
For nearly two hours the Newsboys performed the songs their fans love and know so well they can sing along. Such as, “Crazy,” “Heroes,” “Guilty,” “You Hold It All,” “Committed,” and many more.
As lead singer, Michael Tait also is the spokesperson. “You know,” he began, “you’ve always known that the Newsboys have never been ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. We don’t care what society says, we are going to remain four bonafide Jesus Freaks, this one chocolate boy and these three vanilla boys.”
When the strains to “He Reigns,” began, he told the audience he wanted it to sound like a “big black choir with a lot of white people.”
With the music, Michael intersperses many food-for-thought messages. He mentioned the last two presidential campaign slogans: “Change We Can Believe In,” and “Make America Great Again.” He followed that with, “America will never be great again if we don’t let Jesus back in. When truth and love come together, that will change the world. Love is a verb. It takes action.”
He also took time to address the topics of “worry,” and “prayer.” People often ask him, “Michael Tait, aren’t you worried? What’s going to happen to my country?” His answer: “Nope! My Bible says, ‘don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.’ Why do we wait until the wheels come off the wagon before we pray?”
When the Newsboys had left the stage without having done the theme song from the popular 2014 movie, they were summoned back by the 2,400-member sold out audience chanting, “God’s Not Dead.” I think every single audience member then rose to their feet and sang along.
Their concert here the Sunday after Easter was good timing as Michael said the words to their very popular song, “We Believe,” have become their creed:
We believe in God the Father, We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in the Holy Spirit, that He’s given us new life. We believe in the crucifixion, we believe that He conquered death, we believe in the resurrection, and He’s coming back again, we believe. ”
Tip of my hat to Richard Jordan who knows the importance of weekly worship even when he’s away from home.