wo years ago, our band, Bloodline Severed, was invited to play at a large Christian festival known as “Cornerstone.” We were signed to a small record label at the time and had the opportunity to play shows under different tents in front of hundreds of people. To us this was a huge deal. We hoped this would be a breakout event for our band . . . but we could not have anticipated what actually happened.
On June 20, 2009, our band members gathered in Hamptonville, North Carolina, to drive to Cornerstone in Bushnell, Illinois. Every year, this festival plays host to renowned Christian artists past, present, and future. Crowds come to worship together without the ties and boundaries of race or denomination.
After an almost 18-hour drive, we finally arrived, and as soon as we got there we checked in, got our security passes, and hit the ground running. We passed out flyers and talked to anyone and everyone we could stop. Throughout the first few days, we met so many people and knew this was going to be the event that put our band on the map.
As the week progressed, our adrenaline faded and the lack of sleep crept in. Yet, when the time came each night to hit the stage, we would feel rejuvenated . . . if only for the hour we were performing. Most nights we performed in front of what we thought were subpar crowds and, because of our high expectations, discouragement set in.
On Thursday night, we were not scheduled to play, so we decided to check out our favorite Christian artist. One of the other artists on the docket was a band called Sleeping Giant. We had heard many positive things about them but wanted to see evidence of what we had heard for ourselves. Growing up as a Church of God minister’s son, I had always known what it was like to be in a Spirit-filled church and see spiritual gifts in action. On the other hand, given my taste in music, I had always wondered if there could be a place for the Holy Spirit to move in a heavy-metal show.
The show started like many others, with the guys from the band all over the stage and the crowd going crazy. In the back of my mind, I didn’t think I would be seeing any move of the Spirit with the way these kids were going at it. Then, about midway through the set, the tone changed—I could feel a stirring in the tent. The lead vocalist, Tom Green, started speaking almost as if he were preaching from a pulpit. The guitars only played a few chords for several minutes, allowing the words of his message to permeate through the packed-out tent of a couple thousand listeners. Then the band started singing one of their well-known anthems, “Oh Praise Him,” and the audience started singing as well. They got louder and more people joined in. Soon everyone was sing- ing those three small words with so much emotion.
I started to cry as if a billowing river was overflowing with joy. I got so lost in praise that I didn’t realize the same phenomenon was happening all over the tent. At one point I did open my eyes long enough to see there were kids facedown on their knees in dirt and tall grass crying out to God for salvation of their friends and family. They were praying for miracles and healings. I heard some speaking in tongues, and it flowed from their lips like honey. Then God spoke to me as if He were standing right beside me, saying, “This is where it’s at!” I asked God, “What do You mean?” His words kept repeating in my mind, This is where it’s at!
After the show, my band members and I went back to our campsite. Unlike anytime in the existence of our band, no one had a word to say. We went for minutes under the darkness of night in complete silence. Finally, the silence was broken. One by one we spoke of what we had felt and the awesomeness of being a part of such an inspirational movement. The same message that God had placed in my spirit for the direction of our band was confirmed by everyone else! Bloodline Severed was destined to do more than perform shows. We were called to be ministers of the gospel—light in the darkness and a new hope to those who had fallen away! The next question was, After years of doing things our way, how would we adapt to this calling?
After hearing God’s calling in the summer of 2009, the band slowly started evolving. We endured a few line-up changes and tweaked our sound. In the last year, we have finally started to scratch the surface of what this band is called to do.
In early 2011, we started venturing out of our comfort zone. In joint efforts with our local churches, we have fed the homeless. We have partnered with Billy Graham Ministries to raise funds for the rebuilding efforts of those who were affected by the tsunami in Japan.
Bloodline Severed has continued to play in secular settings, but the Lord led us to also play in Sunday-morning church services to expose more believers to our style of worship. We want to help bridge the gap between Christians like us and the mainstream church, while continuing to minister to the world. By helping church- goers see our heart, connections are being made that only God could forge.
I can recall the first time we practiced our praise-and-worship set. We were all like, Wow . . . not sure if we can do this. It is quite different playing guitars in “drop tuning” with the gain/volume turned to the midway point and then playing a song on the clean channel and actually singing instead of screaming the words. It took us all a while to feel comfortable, which led us to our next valuable learning lesson:
No matter what kind of ministry God calls us to, He asks us to step out of our com- fort zone and have faith.
After a few months of practice, we played our first praise-and-worship set in front of a group of mixed ages. Admittedly, it was scary! For the first time we had many in attendance who were over the age of 65. Before the set, we prayed that God’s Spirit would rain and that He would allow us to feel His presence while playing. We also felt led to play one of our hard-core songs at the end of our set to reach out to the youth.
Since that day, Bloodline Severed has been blessed to play in many Sunday morning worship services after spending a couple of nights ministering in secular settings of the town we are visiting. We have witnessed healings, deliverances, and salvation inside and outside churches.
A few months ago, Bloodline Severed signed a record deal that allows our music the opportunity to go worldwide. Our new album is fittingly titled Letters to Decapolis.
Seeing the doors God has opened for us, I say to anyone who has struggled to find their place in society, “Rely on God.” He has all the answers and can bring a light to your life even in the darkest of nights.