Conversation: Aaron Boyd
God of this City
Belfast, Ireland-based worship band Bluetree, whose
acclaimed album, God of This City, is one of the best-selling Christian
recordings this year, has toured Canada and the United States since the spring.
The band wrote the title track to the album during a 2006 missions trip to
Thailand. Beyond the theological strength of the lyrics, the song is generating
international support for ministries that combat child sex slavery, a crisis
the band observed firsthand during their Thailand tour.
Lead singer Aaron Boyd spoke with Scott Harrup, senior
associate editor, about Bluetree’s commitment to impassion followers of Christ
to meet the world’s crises in the power of the gospel.
evangel: Who is Bluetree?
BOYD: We’re just five local church guys from Belfast.
Blue-tree was formed about five years ago. We started playing and going around
churches in Northern Ireland. We played a few churches in England and Scotland,
and that’s how it went for years.
As a band we want to serve as a platform for worship and to
move people to a place where they understand they’re called to be God’s hands
and feet and be hope and peace and love in people’s lives. In every aspect of
your life, if you start in worship with God as a banner above your life, you
begin to look at the answers Christ offers rather than just the problems.
evangel: Talk about your family. It’s got to be challenging
as you travel.
BOYD: My wife, Jill, is the greatest woman on earth. Lillie
and Josie are 3 and 1. That’s the four of us.
Jill has had grace for this whole thing. It would be wrong
for me to enter into this if she didn’t have peace about it. I’ll be on the
other side of the world, and she’ll know I’m about to walk on stage and I’ll
get this amazing text message that says, “This is what you’ve been called to
do. Go for it.”
evangel: You and Jill have had to deal with Lillie’s cystic
BOYD: Until a few years ago, kids with CF had a projected
lifespan of about 5 years. That really rocked our world when we found out about
it. You think you’ve got your theology all neatly wrapped up, and then you
begin to ask questions like, “Where does this come from?” “Who’s this from?”
And you can either try to work it out yourself in your own head or you can find
out what the Word says.
To be honest, for the first year of her life we tried to
work it out in our own heads, and we just made up something that kind of felt
right — “God’s going to teach us something through this. He’s using this
to teach us something.” But after that first year we really embarked on this
journey of realizing the God we read about in the New Testament is not Someone
who wants my 1-year-old kid to have cystic fibrosis. We believe we’ll see
Lillie fully restored and healed, that God sits up in heaven and He wants her
to be well and wants her to have a great full life.
evangel: You’ve written a song about that journey.
BOYD: I wrote “Each Day” when I found out about Lillie and
was thinking about what that meant in terms of my worshipping God. How does
this all work? Are my emotions involved in worship? And I realized even though
I feel a certain way, even though I feel confused, the promises of God are yes
and amen. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. And He says, “I am the
Lord God your Healer.”
If you take everything in human terms, I’m human, I’m her
dad, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do if I could physically see those symptoms
go away. And the God who created everything, I believe there’s nothing He
wouldn’t do. He proved that 2,000 years ago when He sent Jesus Christ.
And Lillie’s doing great. She’s putting on weight. She just
turned 3, and she’s in the next room playing.
evangel: The story behind the song “God of This City” is
powerful. Could you talk about that?
BOYD: A church we attended before we transferred to a new
church plant organized a short-term missions trip to Thailand. Our band went
along to lead worship.
We knew there was a strong red light district in Thailand,
but we didn’t grasp the extent of it. We were there to encourage local churches
to be a witness in their communities, and we were visiting a coastal town where
prostitution was the principal industry, including child prostitution. Children
are bought from their families, sometimes under false pretenses, and then sold
We were able to play at several sites in the city, and
someone managed to get us into a bar in the very heart of the city’s brothels.
The street runs for about half a mile, and sex tourists can buy whatever they
want to buy. We played an hour and a half in that bar, and that is when God
laid that song on our hearts. The song became the catalyst for launching our
evangel: You’re taking on an international human tragedy.
Does that overwhelm you?
BOYD: When you grow up in Belfast with its conflict, you can
become desensitized to what’s going on. You hear of people being shot, but you
never really feel like you have the responsibility or even the ability to do
something about it. The problem seems infinitely greater than what you feel
your solution could be.
But when you get a revelation of what God’s heart is for the
whole of humanity, and catch a glimpse of His love for the downtrodden, it will
drive you to action. Everyone has their own “God of This City” experience. For
us, we had that experience seeing the child sex industry, seeing people caught
and sold into the most despicable thing ever. But each of us needs to find that
issue we need to do something about.
evangel: What progress are you seeing?
BOYD: Our band has looked for ways to partner with
ministries that are addressing this tragedy. God keeps bringing the right
people into place, and we want to funnel as much funds as we can into
established ministries to abused kids, ministries that get these children out
of that life and care for them and point them to a new life in Christ.
You’re dealing with a multibillion-dollar industry that is
deeply rooted in the governments that allow it, but the Bible tells us that
“greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” More and more
people are realizing that our faith must go beyond going to church on Sunday
morning like some social club. We’re the hope of the world.
evangel: What’s your larger mission?
BOYD: I’m a real local church kind of guy. The church is the
most exciting and dynamic thing out there. And that’s true on a global scale
too. Bluetree exists to partner with churches across the world, to lead them in
worship, to help people come to a place where they can experience God and get a
revelation of who God is in their lives and what God has for them.
The songs I write just take the truth of what the Bible says
and let people lift that over their lives. That’s the simplicity of the gospel,
to take the truths of God’s Word and apply it to our lives to whatever
situations we’re walking through. That’s how we reign in life and soar like
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