One Million Arrows Christian Parenting Blog

Posted in: Arrow Stories

Bringing Authentic Hope Through Music
Guest Author: Matt Brouwer
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matt singing

I grew up in an eastern Canadian town called Truro, in Nova Scotia. I'm the sixth of seven kids. My Mom taught music and my Dad ran a dairy farm. When I was three years old, my father was killed in a car accident, leaving my Mom with 2 kids, 5 step-children and a farm to run. Growing up, I had quite a tumultuous relationship with God. But in spite of the anger and doubt I experienced, I believed He was real. He is the only Father I've ever known, and I've felt his presence in my life since I was really young.

Music and spirituality were always connected in my family but it wasn't until high school that I got more serious about pursuing a way to be a part of the music that had touching my heart and soul—a place where I felt God. I was very insecure and unsure about myself at the time, and it was music that reached me. I felt a sense of God's healing and life...I was hooked.

My first year of college, I moved all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia, and I felt like a really small fish in a huge ocean. I began writing some simple songs, but I was too scared to play them for people. One fateful day, a friend dragged me to a coffeehouse on campus and informed me that I was signed up to perform at a singer-songwriter night. I was so scared, but I also really wanted to share my songs. So I got up and started playing an electric keyboard.  At one point in the middle of my song the unthinkable happened. Suddenly, without warning, a breaker flipped off in the building and the keyboard I was playing lost power. I was so embarrassed and had no idea what to do, so I closed my eyes and kept singing a cappella. Afterward, I opened my eyes to a room full of people with eyes closed.

I'd never considered leading worship before that night, but for months after, people came up to me and told me how they had been moved and how God had used my song to touch them. I was shocked! That night I'd tried to prove that I was good enough as a musician to be worthy of their admiration. But when the keyboard died and I had to sing all alone under the harsh spotlight, I was made completely vulnerable. Instead of trying to be cool, it forced me to be real and God was able to speak through me as because I got out of the way.

I transferred to a small school in Alberta the next year. For some reason, there was a surge of young and creative musicians on campus during that time. We were all stuck together in the middle of nowhere, discovering our individual and collaborative gifts. What happened there really changed my life. A group of friends and I started a music community called Monday Night Worship (MNW). It began with a conversation a group of us had about our hunger to begin a journey of truly knowing God. We didn't know exactly what it was that we wanted to see happen, we just knew we believed that something could happen. Soon there were hundreds and hundreds of kids showing up every week, longing to experience God in a fresh way.

MNW grew so fast that I was constantly thrust into situations I was not ready for, but the burden of such a rapid response was shouldered by our community as we stayed grounded in our growing love for God and each other. We had the opportunity to hit the road at that point for a tour that ended up lasting an entire year. We received letters and emails from record companies in Nashville and industry professionals who were hearing about our band. In one month, 5 major Christian labels contacted us. This led to an opportunity to sign a recording contract and make a go at a music career. When the tour ended, the band separated and I moved to Nashville. That next year had a lot of exciting firsts. I recorded my first album, toured across North America, and shared the stage with some of the biggest names in Christian music. I also experienced some of the worst of what the industry is and perpetuates. It derailed me and I ended up in a major crisis of faith.

That's how I ended up at The Woodlands in a church community that caught me as I was falling and gave me the opportunity to serve and get real about life apart from the billion dollar Christian music industry. I learned that a true artist is someone who willing to spend time in the trenches, serving and getting their hands dirty. The process is a lot more real and painful than the illusions of our celebrity obsessed culture, but in the end it's what separates true character from the disposableness of where much of the music world is right now.

This humbling experience has led to some incredible opportunities to see God move in powerful ways. For starters, I went on a series of trips after my first CD was released. I hadn't really found my voice yet as an artist and I didn't want to continue writing and making music until I knew what I was supposed to say. The experiences of working in small villages in Guatemala, Jamaica, the inner city in Caracas, Venezuela, and working with the previously war torn yet fledgling youth culture in Poland affected me deeply. All of a sudden I had a lot of questions. I felt guilt, compassion, rage, and hope all mixed together. It burst open a dam in my soul and everything just came rushing out. I began to see the full power of what music means in all of our lives, how it connects us, and what a gift it is along the pathways of life. There's real power there, and I don't want to take that for granted.

God is calling our generation to revolutionary change. As a generation trying to find meaning, we're discovering that true purpose and calling does exist, but it requires giving our whole lives to it no matter the cost. Jesus paid a high price on the cross, defeating sin in order to make it possible. I am so excited to be able to share this kind of hope.

matt awardMatt's organic pop melodies reveal a lyrical honesty that is both refreshing and, at times, raw. His heart is to serve, and to make a lasting impact where there is great need, both at home and around the globe. He and friends founded New Beginning Resources (NBRI), a relief organization that operates in Guatemala, Haiti and Ecuador. NBRI's goal is to support missionaries and medical work, and to help educate children and give them hope for a brighter future. Amidst mission travels and making music, a grounding factor in Matt's life is his church community where he's a part-time worship leader and artist-in-residence. To learn more about Matt or his latest album, "Where's Our Revolution," visit his website.

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