Wess Stafford says there are around 2000 scriptures about the poor and our responsibility to them as Christians. That’s more than twice the number dealing with heaven and hell combined. Yet, he also says, 80% of pastors in America have NEVER spoken about poverty from the pulpit.
I’m a preacher of sorts, I suppose. My songs are my sermons. My CDs and blog and concert stages are my pulpit. So I preach about this. But I can do a better job. So I’ve made this subject the focus of my reading, prayer and song writing lately, hoping to create an entire album and concert experience eventually that illuminates the problem of poverty and our role in fighting it while not being completely unlistenable, preachy, heavy-handed and about a dozen other adjectives that would keep the music and the message from spreading far and wide.
The problem is I’m stuck lyrically. And it’s been worrying me. Until tonight. I had an idea.
I’ve contacted a painter whose work inspires me. He also happens to know a lot and care a lot about children and the poor. He’s dedicated a great deal of time over the last few years to communicating these ideas through his work.
I’ve asked him if we could form a partnership of sorts. I’d expose him to everything I know about Compassion International – take him to see their work, meet their workers, play with the kids etc. I’d send him informative or inspiring stuff to read, to watch or to hear. We’d take in those 2000 verses of scripture and digest them together, having a continual dialogue about what hits us and what we discern should be passed on to our audiences.
Then, he’d paint. And I’d write. His pictures would birth the thousand words or so I need to finish a record.
Then the dream is to offer the entire album for free as a download – no e-mail addresses asked for, no sign up necessary, just click and it’s yours. BUT, a physical CD would be sold as well, on-line and at shows, packaged with the paintings. Think of it as a coffee table book with a bonus disc inside – lyrics and artwork and other bits of inspiration packaged together. Every picture would be on a perforated page that could be torn out and framed. A tour with the two of us could hit the road afterward, the paintings created on the tour could be sold to pay tour expenses and benefit Compassion International.
The whole thing might be called “1000 Words.”
The idea came from thinking back on Jackie’s story. She said she was hopeless until they took her picture at the Compassion Project. That picture was eventually turned into a sponsorship packet like the ones we hand out at my concerts every week. I started a song recently that talks about how a picture is worth a thousand words but all she needed were three: I love you. For Jackie that’s what that picture said. It said she was loved, hope was coming, she would live.
I’d like to give that hope to many more kids and a free download would spread the word, create more fans, get more people to the shows, and result in more kids being sponsored through Compassion.
Before all this can happen I need to know if it’s a good idea. So tell me what you think. I’m praying to that end. And I need to raise the money needed to cover all CD costs upfront so it can be given away. And I need to convince a painter who barely knows me that this is a project worth him pouring hundreds of hours into when he’s already very busy as it is. Any suggestions or thoughts are welcome. Let’s think through this together. Prayers are of course welcomed.